Virginia Commonwealth University in Qatar recently launched its Graduate Incubator – the first industry sponsored design incubator in Qatar.
The Graduate Incubator is part of VCUQatar’s Young Entrepreneur Series (YES) and fosters collaboration between VCUQatar and Qatar’s leading businesses to build an entrepreneurial ecosystem delivering real-world design challenges within a world-class educational environment.
Housed in the Center for Research, Design and Entrepreneurship, the Graduate Incubator is sponsored by companies that commission design services who wish to help build local design capacity and seek to support education, often through their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programs.
One such industry partner is Maersk Oil Qatar. In the first agreement struck under the initiative, Maersk has provided 12-month sponsorships to graphic design graduates Haneen Al Sharif and Lama Abu Dheays. The graduates will work on a variety of projects under Maersk’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) program, which aligns with the Qatar National Vision 2030. Faisal Al Medaihki, associate communication manager at Maersk Oil Qatar, said that the company is committed to supporting opportunities in which talent and skills can be built locally.
The Incubator provides a dedicated space for students and alumni to support and mentor their entrepreneurial ambitions. During their 12-month sponsorship, exceptional design graduates receive mentorship, business planning guidance and technical training.
Sponsors provide real world design projects and a competitive starting salary for the elite VCUQatar graduates who undertake a rigorous selection process to join the incubator. As part of their commitment to the program, sponsors agree that a percentage of the graduate’s time can be spent on their personal development and training program to enhance their education. Staff at the Center for Research, Design and Entrepreneurship provide day-to-day project management, computer facilities and all other office amenities.
“Our aim is to build a culture around entrepreneurship,” explains Roger Griffiths, director of Entrepreneurship at VCUQatar. “The Graduate Incubator will bring local businesses and aspiring young designers together to produce exceptional creative work and help the graduates to develop the skills they need to eventually establish their own businesses in design.”
“Through this incubator and the Young Entrepreneur Series (YES) we want to support a generation of young designers to create a thriving, vibrant and sustainable design sector for Qatar - the foundation for Qatar’s diversified economy. We envisage a seamless transition for our students, from initial support as undergraduates, through our graduate incubator, to company registration. Throughout this period our graduates will have access to business and personal development workshops and technical training provided by our network of partner organizations, teaching faculty and external consultants,” added Griffiths.
Companies wishing to sponsor Qatar’s first Graduate Incubator should contact Roger Griffiths, director of Entrepreneurship at VCUQatar on email@example.com  or call +974 3013 3451 or +974 4402 0727.