Qatar Research, Development, and Innovation (QRDI) Council Elevates Qatar’s Open Innovation Status at SWITCH 2023

Media OutReach – 2 November 2023 – The Qatar Research, Development, and Innovation (QRDI) Council, and Enterprise Singapore (EnterpriseSG), announced the
Qatar – Singapore Joint Innovation Challenge (QSJIC) as part of its participation at the Singapore Week of Innovation and Technology (SWITCH), held in Singapore from October 31 to November 2, 2023. This collaboration signifies a historic moment in the global advancement of innovation and technology. The event was attended by HE Ambassador of the State of Qatar to Singapore Saoud bin Jassim Al Jufairi.

Panel discussion (from left to right): Dr. Francis Yeoh, Senior Advisor, QRDI Council, David Luong, Senior Manager IT – Digital Systems & Projects, MATAR, Nada M. Al-Olaqi, RDI Program Director, QRDI Council, Dr. Soud K. Al-Thani, Director of Green Development and Environmental Sustainability Department at Qatar’s Ministry of Environment and Climate Change | Opening remarks by Hind A. Zaki, International Partnerships Director, QRDI Council | Event attended by HE Ambassador of the State of Qatar to Singapore Saoud bin Jassim Al Jufairi

Three challenge statement owners, namely the Qatar Company for Airport Operation and Management (MATAR), Qatar Insurance Co. (QIC) Digital Venture Partners, and the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change (MoECC) have put up seven problem statements, seeking new ideas and solutions from Singapore-based companies in areas such as energy, sustainability, and insurtech.
The SWITCH flagship conference, organised by EnterpriseSG, is the leading startup festival in Asia that serves as a nexus for deep tech, and champions the growth of Singapore’s startup and innovation ecosystem by catalysing conversations and collaboration among eminent members of the global business and tech community.
The QRDI Council was established in 2018 to drive research, development, and innovation (RDI) efforts on a national level in line with the Qatar National Vision 2030 and the Second National Development Strategy (2018-2022). QRDI Council has developed its ten-year strategy, QRDI 2030, which seeks to create a locally empowered, globally connected RDI ecosystem, mobilizing leadership across government, academia, and industry to transform Qatar’s social and economic future. QRDI Council members include prominent national and international figures from various government and academic entities and industry experts.
Ms. Nada Al-Olaqi, RDI Program Director of the QRDI Council, who was on the panel discussion held as part of the QRDI Council engagement activities at SWITCH 2023, expressed her enthusiasm about this collaboration and participation, saying, “Our participation in SWITCH is a remarkable milestone in the QRDI Council’s journey. We are excited to join hands with Enterprise Singapore in launching the Qatar-Singapore Joint Innovation Challenge, to provide valuable opportunities for Singapore companies to offer their innovations to Qatari entities. This initiative is a testament to our commitment to driving innovation and growth for Qatar while strengthening our global partnerships.”
In collaboration with EnterpriseSG and SWITCH, the QRDI Council participated in a market access panel as well as a networking session with businesses, providing a platform for innovative ideas to burgeon into implementable solutions. The initiative commenced with a riveting Panel Discussion centered around the Qatar-Singapore Joint Innovation Challenge (QSJIC). Dr. Francis Yeoh, Senior Advisor to QRDI Council, adeptly moderated the session, engaging with panelists that are challenge owners of QSJIC – MATAR, and MoECC.
Their insightful discourse set an enlightening prelude to the subsequent Networking Session, aptly titled ‘Bridging Innovations: Qatar – Singapore Joint Innovation Challenges’, where potential Singapore solution providers scored the opportunity to engage the Qatari entities directly to understand their innovation needs. These innovation needs beckoned Singapore’s vibrant startup community and innovative minds to propose viable solutions, nurturing a collaborative ethos between Qatar and Singapore while accentuating the boundless prospects of open innovation.
Mr G. Jayakrishnan, Executive Director for South Asia, Middle East & Africa at EnterpriseSG, shared, “The joint innovation call will further deepen innovation collaboration between Qatar and Singapore. Singapore companies have relevant expertise in areas of energy, environmental sustainability, and insurtech, and we are confident that they can be effective partners to the participating Qatar entities in developing solutions and products which contribute to Qatar’s sustainable development goals.”
Winners of the QSJIC get to embark on pilot projects with the three challenge statement owners and will receive solution development support of up to SGD150,000 each.
To learn more about the QSJIC, please visit
this link.
About the Qatar Open Innovation program
The Qatar Open Innovation (QOI) program has been the primary platform for startups and innovators to showcase products and solutions that address the nation’s most pressing challenges. Covering the five national priorities of energy, health, resource sustainability, society, and digital technology, as outlined in the QRDI Strategy 2030, the QOI program identifies opportunities for innovation collaborations to drive economic prosperity.
More on the QRDI Council in Singapore
The QSJIC is among the first activities between the QRDI Council and EnterpriseSG since the two parties signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in June 2023. This strategic partnership aims to stimulate cross-border collaboration and open innovation, propelling Qatar towards becoming an innovation and knowledge-based economy. The MoU underscores the commitment to promote joint innovation programs, events, and initiatives that benefit both Qatari and Singaporean enterprises.
Key highlights of the QRDI Council and EnterpriseSG MoU include:

Creation of product innovation and commercialization opportunities through unique challenge statements and proof-of-concept opportunities.

Cross-promotion of Qatar and Singapore innovation programs, events, and opportunities.

Knowledge exchange and expertise sharing to enhance innovation ecosystems.

Facilitation of connections, expansion of innovation opportunities, and access to global markets.

The QRDI Council, entrusted with developing and implementing the QRDI 2030 Strategy, is pivotal in strengthening Qatar’s innovation ecosystem. EnterpriseSG, a statutory board under Singapore’s Ministry of Trade and Industry, champions enterprise development and innovation in Singapore.
In August 2023, the QRDI Council has also entered into another MoU with the Public Utilities Board (PUB) in Singapore. This was signed when Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of the State of Qatar, His Excellency Sheikh Mohammed Bin Abdulrahman Bin Jassim Al Thani, visited the city state at the invitation of the Prime Minister of Singapore, Mr. Lee Hsien Loong. This MoU focuses on initiatives to digitize small and medium-sized companies and incubation programs, further cementing the QRDI Council’s commitment to nurturing innovation and entrepreneurship.
The partnership with SWITCH, the groundbreaking collaborations established through the MoUs, and the upcoming QSJIC collectively underscore the QRDI Council’s dedication to fostering a culture of innovation and driving economic growth through technology and knowledge.
Appendix A: QSJIC Challenge Details
Airport Operations: MATAR (Qatar Company for Airport Operation and Management)
Playing a critical role in managing and operating Hamad International Airport (DOH) since the facility’s inception in 2014, MATAR continues to elevate the aviation industry with its renowned forward-thinking plans and investments – winning multiple awards and accolades.

The challenges from MATAR are as follows:
Challenge no. 1: ‘Recovery and Recycling of Sludge from Wastewater Treatment’
The challenge is to find innovative and economically viable solutions for the recycling and recovery of sludge produced by wastewater treatment plants, addressing issues such as environmental impact, resource recovery, and cost-effectiveness in alignment with MATAR’s commitment to sustainable sludge management.
Challenge no. 2: ‘Optimised Allocation of High Value and Limited Asset Resources’
The challenge is to harness deep reinforcement learning to revolutionize resource allocation strategies in transportation and logistics, aiming for a 10% increase in efficiency by optimizing high-value resources like planes, stands, trucks, and ships across various critical sectors, such as airports, seaports, and logistics centers, ultimately offering a cost-effective alternative to infrastructure expansion while considering multifaceted factors like customer experience and commercial considerations.
Challenge no.3: ‘Floating Solar Panels’
The challenge is to source for novel floating solar solutions that is durable against environmental factors, have an adaptive and resilient designs that can optimise the performance and stability in different conditions, and is able to achieve high level of efficiency.
Insurance: QIC (Qatar Insurance Co.)
Established in 1964, QIC is Qatar’s pioneering insurance company. With a leading presence in Qatar and a strong foothold in the GCC and MENA regions, it ranks among the largest insurers in the MENA area. QIC is publicly listed on the Qatar Stock Exchange with a market capitalization exceeding QAR 7 billion. Additionally, it is the first digital insurance company in Qatar and was honored as the top online insurance company in the Middle East at the 2022 Global Banking & Finance Review Awards.
The challenges from QIC Digital Venture Partners, a part of QIC Group, are as follows:
Challenge no. 1: ‘Any ESG Project that could impact positively or get impacted by Insurance Companies’
The challenge is to identify ESG issues that insurance can address as a value lever within various insurance sectors, with a focus on the MENA region or global applicability through reinsurance/Lloyds. Successful solutions should have a validated MVP in collaboration with a regional industry partner, preferably an insurer.
Challenge no. 2: ‘(Generative) AI in the Insurance Value Chain’
The challenge is to innovate and implement AI solutions that transform various aspects of the insurance industry, from customer interactions to value creation, across retail, commercial, and reinsurance sectors. Successful partners should possess a validated insurance use case with another insurer, backed by a proven MVP within the insurance value chain in collaboration with a regional insurer.
Environmental Sustainability: The Ministry of Environment and Climate Change (MoECC)
The Ministry of Environment and Climate Change (MoECC) is a service ministry that set up a number of goals, foremost of which are protecting the environment, preserving natural resources, and reducing emissions that contribute to climate change.
The challenges from the MoECC are as follows:
Challenge no.1: ‘Carbon footprint for Aluminum Production’
The challenge is to create a tool for the Environmental Assessment Department that can quickly and accurately assess the environmental impact of new projects. The tool should include models for air, emissions, seawater, land data, and historical information. It should help decision making on new projects and verify environmental impact studies. The goal is to save time and improve accuracy.
Challenge no.2: ‘Environment Impact Assessment’
The challenge is to create a tool for the Environmental Assessment Department to streamline the assessment of environmental impact studies for new projects, addressing the current issue of time-consuming reviews. The tool should incorporate air, seawater, and land models historical data and provide decision-making support for new projects. It must meet environmental standards, with a focus on Qatar’s region.
Hashtag: #QRDICouncil

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