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Haya H Al Muhannadi
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Qatar National Research Fund to award $140.5 million to new research projects

QNRF to announce the results of the 5th Cycle of its National Priorities Research Program (NPRP) at their
4th annual forum which will be held at Qatar National Convention Centre

At its 4th Annual Forum, Qatar National Research Fund (QNRF) announced that it has awarded $140.5 million to research proposals that come under the scope of the National Priorities Research Program (NPRP), which has been specifically designed to foster a culture of research in Qatar.

Now in its fifth cycle, this substantial amount marks a considerable increase of 16% percent over the previous cycle. Proposals received covered a broad range of disciplines such as the natural sciences, engineering and technology, medical and health sciences, agricultural sciences, social sciences and humanities.

QNRF, a member of Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development (QF), launched the fifth cycle of the NPRP in September 2011. Since then, it has received over 1460 Letters of Intent, generating a large number of research proposals. The 632 proposals that qualified were sent for external review and evaluation by up to five international peer reviewers.

During the forum’s keynote speech Mr. Faisal M. Alsuwaidi, QF President of Research and Development, highlighted the importance of research to the development of Qatar. “Qatar will be an international centre for research and development, excellence, and innovation,” he predicted.

Mr Alsuwaidi explained that the principles governing scientific growth in Qatar are three-fold - societal, economic and strategic needs; the presence of local expertise and planned future capacity; and the opportunity for substantive impact locally, regionally, and globally.

His engaging speech was followed by a short film that showcased the development of QNRF over the previous five years and some of the achievements it has accomplished through its funding programs, which have encompassed all levels from secondary school students to qualified researchers.

QNRF adheres to strict guidelines. Its criteria for selecting proposals take into account originality, potential benefits for Qatar and the region, as well as the relevant qualifications of the research team.

Projects are awarded funds on a competitive basis and are subject to rigorous analysis by QNRF, with the successful submissions representing 25% percent of all proposals received.

The results of the fifth cycle of the NPRP were announced by Dr Abdul Sattar Al-Taie , Executive Director of QNRF, who said, "With the forum now in its fourth year, QNRF, through its comprehensive range of research funding programs, continues to advance Qatar Foundation's mission of promoting a culture of scientific research in Qatar across all disciplines and across all sectors."

Dr Al-Taie's presentation revealed a 57% increase in the number of awarded institutions in Qatar this year, indicating an upward trend from last year's figure. More importantly, a total of 156 projects were awarded $140.5 million in research grants.

By funding such projects, the NPRP continues to build upon human capital in Qatar and benefit the nation, the region and the world through a broad range of innovative initiatives. Dr Al-Taie explained that NPRP continues to enjoy an unprecedented level of success, attracting increasing attention from world-class researchers. The sixth cycle of the NPRP is scheduled to begin on September 2012.

Dr Omar Boukhris, Senior Manager, Award Administration at QNRF, gave a presentation on the new grant management initiatives being undertaken. These new initiatives are great enhancements to the QNRF grant management model and will ease the work of scientists and research administrators, inspiring productivity and ensuring compliance, he enthused. Dr Boukhris also introduced the new QNRF annual merit awards, with Texas A&M University at Qatar being awarded Research Office of the Year, whilst Dr. Belic, a key investigator from Texas A&M University at Qatar collected the award for Best Research Team of the Year. on behalf of his colleagues in the NPRP project number 25-6-7-2

Following that, Ms Tamara El Shibib, IP Specialist, Qatar Science and Technology Park  (QSTP) spoke about the outcome of a collaborative project between QNRF and QSTP on intellectual property (IP) management. Ms El Shibib described how IP emanating from successful QNRF-sponsored research can then move on to QSTP for commercialization.

Finally Mr. Haytham Ali, Head of IT, QNRF, spoke of forthcoming developments to QNRF's state-of-the-art online submission system. Plans include a mobile solution that would allow researchers to access their files via a smart phone.

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