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WCM-Q event supports Qatar’s growing biomedical R&D industry

Speakers at the Industry Academia Interactions event.
Speakers at the Industry Academia Interactions event.

Biomedical researchers and industry representatives from across the globe met to discuss strategies for translating innovation from the laboratory to the marketplace at WCM-Q’s Industry Academia Interactions event.

Held at the Hilton Hotel in collaboration with Qatar Foundation, Qatar National Research Fund, Sidra Medical and Research Center and Qatar Science and Technology Park, the event explored ways to foster productive partnerships among researchers, funding institutions and businesses in order to develop commercially viable Intellectual Property (IP), a key aim of Qatar National Vision 2030.

The two-day event featured presentations by academic and industry experts on issues such as research funding, development of new pharmaceuticals, encouraging biotech startups, building a knowledge economy, investment in the biomedical sector in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, and startup incubation.

Opening the event, Dr. Javaid Sheikh, dean of WCM-Q, said:

“The pace of change in Qatar’s knowledge-based economy has been incredibly swift - in the past decade the country has built a level of capacity in research and development that took more than 100 years in the countries of the OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development). This rapid growth and development is what makes Qatar such an exciting place to work.

Through the Industry Academia Interactions event we aim to facilitate relationships that will help translate Qatar’s capacity for research into new ventures that will make significant and sustainable contributions to the growing hi-tech sector here.”

Dr. Sheikh spoke on ‘Guideposts for Angel Investors in Biomed Sectors in the MENA Region’.

The international group of expert speakers included Dr. Hsiao D. Lieu, managing director of Chorus, the integrated clinical research division of Lilly Research Laboratories, a global pharmaceutical research and development organization; Dr. Bruce Conway, program director of the Robertson Therapeutic Development Fund and faculty member at the Clinical Center for Translational Science at The Rockefeller University, New York; and Dr. Danny Ramadan, acting director of strategic research and technology investment advisor at QSTP, among many others.

Dr. Louis Herlands, executive director, Sidra ventures business development and external relations at Sidra Medical and Research Center, is responsible for the commercial development of technologies emanating from Sidra. Dr. Herlands, who gave a presentation titled ‘Reduced Risk Biotech Startups’, specializes in assessing the commercial viability of early-stage technologies and establishing productive collaborations at the intersection between academia, entrepreneurship, finance and industry.

The event included multiple panel discussions where local and international experts tackled the issues of translation of research findings in the biomedical arena to commercially viable entities in Qatar, the Gulf and regionally. Multiple novel and creative paths were suggested and discussed and will form an important framework for future work in this area.

Dr. Khaled Machaca, associate dean for research at WCM-Q said:

“With the support of Qatar Foundation, the research program at WCM-Q has become a regional center of excellence in biomedical research, leading to important and valuable discoveries in many fields. Gatherings like the Industry Academia Interactions event provide a platform where influential people from industry can interact with talented researchers, which we believe can foster strategic partnerships that will drive innovation and the creation of commercially viable new Intellectual Property.

In this way, we believe the center of excellence established at WCM-Q can make a significant and important contribution to the mission to diversify economy of Qatar.”