To help further the nation’s ambitious research agenda, Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development hosted the annual Qatar National Research Strategy Forum 2013 last week, in collaboration with The New York Academy of Sciences. During the forum six ‘grand’ challenges were identified as fundamental to advancing the Qatar National Research Strategy (QNRS).
The two-day conference,held at Qatar National Convention Centre, gathered stakeholders from across the QNRS’s key sectors including academia, government and research institutes who collaborated in a series of workshops that narrowed a dozen identified grand challenges down to six. Those chosen included the development and deployment of solar energy and production of high value hydrocarbon products, integrated mobility and road safety, integrated health management systems, desalination and water reuse, cyber security and human capacity.
Evaluating them based on their relevance to Qatar’s development priorities, the criteria included their applicability to natural resource preservation, urbanisation, healthcare and information communication technologies. Working to overcome these challenges will set a clear agenda to further the QNRS and achieve the Qatar National Vision 2030.
During his closing remarks, Faisal M. Alsuwaidi, President of Research and Development at Qatar Foundation also revealed next steps for overcoming the six major challenges. The coming phase of the strategy will be executed across the nation’s institutes, universities, service providers, government, industries and funders and is expected to nurture and enhance innovative research.
“I am proud to announce that six grand challenges have been prioritised today. Through our efforts to refine our agenda for the Qatar National Research Strategy, these six will also capture many of the other challenges we are still facing. But by selecting six, we can focus the approach in our strategy implementation and give ourselves the chance to build capacity across a number of sectors nationwide,” explained Mr Alsuwaidi.
“We will continue to pursue other challenges, but the six identified in this conference are what Qatar needs to take urgent action on and will have the most positive impact on Qatar in the near future. We also need to make sure we have both the capacity and the interest from stakeholders to undertake these challenges.”
In his remarks, Michael Goldrich, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of The New York Academy of Sciences, echoed Mr Alsuwaidi’s commitment to aligning the nation’s science and research objectives with stakeholder priorities, capabilities and interests.
“This forum is the third step in the Academy’s engagement with Qatar Foundation Research and Development. We sought reactions and advice from all stakeholders to examine a set of recommendations related to the Qatar National Research Strategy 2013. Their efforts were critical to helping create a set of high priority projects that are both meaningful for the nation’s citizens and contributing to building a sustainable future,” said Mr Gold rich.
“The special value of working with Qatar Foundation’s leadership is that they have continued to place great emphasis on allowing different sectors and disciplines to work together to establish synergies between them that foster mutual growth. The grand challenges identified here today are proof that their efforts will help to fulfil the Qatar National Vision 2030 objectives.”
Qatar Foundation Research and Development will encourage input from all QNRS stakeholders in order to work towards overcoming the challenges. It will also assess human capacity and research capabilities before creating comprehensive implementation plans.
In keeping with the objectives of QNRS, which was launched last October, the annual forum will continue to provide researchers with the opportunity to network and cooperate on future research projects, nationally and internationally. It will also provide stakeholders with an ideal platform to advance the nation’s research objective of becoming an international centre for research and development by identifying, discussing and confronting a host of pertinent challenges.