A Forward-Looking Evaluation of the Qatar Science and Technology Park

City skyline of Doha, Qatar

Project Summary

In 2010, Qatar Foundation's President of Research and Development asked the RAND-Qatar Policy Institute to carry out an independent forward-looking evaluation of Qatar Science & Technology Park (QSTP) and how it promoted meeting goals set forth in Qatar's National Research Strategy and the Qatar National Vision 2030. RAND's evaluation of QSTP focused on identifying strategies for QSTP to enhance Qatar's technology innovation ecosystem. It identified areas of success, areas for further development, and additional strategic orientations in support of technology business incubation.

Initiated by Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser in 2002, with operations beginning in 2004, QSTP was envisioned to be a catalyst of technology innovation, promote the translation of research in Qatar into commercial products, and support Qatar's goals of becoming a knowledge-based economy. At the time of the evaluation, QSTP hosted 41 technology companies, funded 18 research projects that integrated international and local partners, and offered training to entrepreneurs.


Only a few decades ago, Qatar's economy rested on fishing and pearl diving. Today, thanks to having one of the world's largest supplies of natural gas, its economy has grown at an astonishing rate; its citizens enjoy one of the highest gross domestic product (GDP) rates per capita in the world. But Qatar's leaders recognize the peril of relying on a single economic sector and want to diversify the nation's economy. One path to such diversity is by developing a knowledge-based economy. Accordingly, Qatar has crafted a National Vision 2030, which calls for a diversified economy that reduces dependence on hydrocarbon industries, invests in higher education and research, and fosters the private sector. But there are obstacles to achieving such a vision, most notably the ability to generate and sustain new technology-based businesses. A combination of regulatory and financing hurdles, a small population, shortage of skilled employees, and a cultural aversion to risk make it difficult to launch businesses. As one step towards overcoming these hurdles and to promote a culture of innovation, Qatar Science & Technology Park (QSTP) opened its doors in early 2004.


In conducting the evaluation, RAND researchers employed a mixed-method approach to the analysis, which included workshops with QSTP management; over 60 interviews with QSTP companies, QSTP leadership, and external stakeholders; analysis of QSTP data and documents; a review of the literature on science and technology parks; and a logic model that enabled them to examine inputs, processes, outputs, and outcomes within the larger framework of the context within which QSTP operates. This examination enabled the research team to make judgments about the success of key activities and to develop recommendations about how they might be improved. The multidisciplinary team included RAND researchers based in Qatar, the US, and the UK.


QSTP has achieved substantial accomplishments in comparison with other science parks that have been operational for a similar length of time (three years from the completion of construction). The evaluation took stock of achievements since QSTP's original conception, its launching in 2004 in a temporary location, and its official opening in 2009. In addition, the RAND team made recommendations to strategically define QSTP's future role in Qatar's innovation ecosystem, and suggested additional steps to make QSTP's accomplishments sustainable. In particular, the evaluation proposed a renewed emphasis on technology business incubation, with supporting policy proposals.

Qatar Foundation for Education, Science, and Community Development