New fund to spur innovation and tech startups announced at the opening of QITCOM Conference in Doha.

Business Reporter Shoshana knows her way around Europe and the Middle East with a notebook and video camera. She has worked as a multi-media journalist for Channel NewsAsia, Ruptly video news agency, the UN, and most recently, with 7Days in Dubai. She speaks Arabic and English and has degrees in Middle East History and Political Science.

A QAR6 billion fund for tech startups and multinational companies was announced by the Ministry of Transport and Communications of Qatar on Monday.

The Qatar Smart Nation project, “Tasmu” will help companies develop solutions to tech problems of the future, HE Sheikh Abdullah Bin Khalifa Al-Thani, Prime Minister and Minister of Interior of Qatar said at the opening ceremony of the QITCOM Conference in Doha.

Qatar Smart Nation aims to bridge the gap between policy-makers and society across five sectors, including transport, logistics, environment, health, and sports, Rashid Al-Naimi, CEO of Qatar Fund investments told Inc. Arabia.

“We tried to build a bridge between the people who need help, and the people who want to offer help, and aim to build this bridge using technological solutions that are cheaper, faster, and more efficient in every way,” he said.

“QAR6 billion is the money we’re expecting to spend over the next five years of implementing all these solutions, expecting it will return QAR40 billion in the country as well as a 10% year-on-year increase in terms of the number of technologically capable staff and employees.

Nuami urged companies at the implementation stage of their projects to apply for the funds from the Qatar Development Bank (QDB), who will cover 80% of costs of the feasibility study.

“The money is open to everyone as long as we realize the project is feasible, required, and doable by the counter-party.”

Some of the projects launched so far with help from the fund include video analytic software to monitor the city port, a drone that collects trash as small as a lighter in the desert and analytic software installed on buses to help decrease carbon emissions by optimising bus routes.

“We launched the Smart Qatar strategy Tasmu, which we hope will help us meet our goals in making people’s lives better and diversifying the social income for our economy,” he added.

The fund would also be used to help foster startups across three government incubators; the Digital Incubation Centre at the Ministry of Transport and Communications, the Qatar Development Bank’s program for SMEs and Entrepreneurs, and QBIC (Qatar Business Incubation Centre).

One of biggest challenges faced by companies in the small Qatari market is being able to commercialize their innovations, Amin Matni, program manager at QBIC, said.

“The fund will support and nurture the ecosystem and help square out innovations,” Matni said. “The market is small here. You just run it to test a business model, but you need to take it to the global economy, that’s where the real deal is.”

QITCOM is on at the Qatar National Convention Centre in Doha, with March 8th being the last day.