The World Innovation Summit for Health (WISH) recently participated in one of the world’s largest technology events, Web Summit 2021, which took place from November 1-4.
WISH was at the event as part of ongoing efforts to link with global healthcare tech innovation companies and startups. Representatives of the organization welcomed event attendees to a purpose-built pavilion where various WISH initiatives were highlighted, and a number of WISH’s innovation competitions winners were given the opportunity to showcase their products.
During Web Summit, WISH, a member of Qatar Foundation (QF), delivered a masterclass titled, “A Healthy Approach to Success in the Arabian Gulf”, which offered guidance for startups in the healthcare industry looking to expand into the region.
Mahmoud El-Achi, Head of Innovation at WISH, spoke on how organizations should take their time to really get to know the business landscape of the region in order to better understand the market and how it fits within their own business model, saying: “There are some unique ecosystems in the Gulf region, such as within our own parent organization QF. QF was set up to build capacity in Qatar by diversifying the local economy through promoting initiatives in the areas of education, health, research, innovation, and community development. As a business, you need to know such ecosystems well before approaching them.”
Nick Bradshaw, Director of Partnerships and Outreach at WISH, highlighted that international startups can benefit greatly by setting up in Qatar as the country can become a valuable foothold for expanding into the neighboring GCC countries due to similarities in nature of audiences and how the overall entrepreneurial systems function.
Bradshaw further encouraged startups to thoroughly research potential gaps in the market and to value the knowledge local partners can bring to ventures new to the region. The need to find strong and like-minded partners within the Qatari ecosystem was further emphasized by Christophe Billiottet, co-founder and CEO of Application Design for Global Solutions Computer Systems (ADGS), a Qatar-based deep technology that uses fundamental science and advanced technologies to build futuristic applications.
The ADGS team were sponsored by WISH to participate at the Web Summit, alongside representatives from a Russian startup, Sensor Tech, that creates technological devices for those with sensory impairments, and Lebanese startup, Find A Nurse, which provides an online platform for people to find a homecare nurse that suits their specific needs. All three startups are among those that have received support from the WISH Innovation Award Program in the past.
The masterclass also explored topics such as leveraging the benefits of language to reach people, meaning startups should aim to learn basic Arabic phrases to help them communicate and ultimately work more efficiently and harmoniously in new markets, and advised startups to avoid the assumption that securing investment is not as competitive as it is in the rest of the world.
WISH invited Mohammed Al-Emadi, Head of Angel Investment at Qatar Development Bank, to offer tips to attendees at the session. Al-Emadi urged international startups to utilize the unique benefits of expanding their businesses in Qatar, highlighting the fact that the state offers a lot of opportunities, including synergies with existing companies, the ability to form new partnerships, and funding prospects through various organizations dedicated to supporting global innovation.
Attendees of Web Summit were able to find out more about the range of WISH initiatives available for startups, including its long-standing Innovation Award Program. Running since 2013, the program includes two competitions; Spark is aimed at entrepreneurs seeking to solve healthcare challenges by developing and validating a scalable project – typically early-stage schemes or startups – while Booster identifies exciting inventions that are looking to scale-up and grow.
Held annually in Lisbon, Portugal, Web Summit attracts world leaders, policymakers, activists and innovators. The event offers networking opportunities, team building, and learning and development with over 700 global speakers offering their insights on a range of technology-based topics.