Qatar Foundation (QF) has held a multi-sectoral forum providing leading Qatari and French institutions with the opportunity to identify areas of common interest in the fields of energy and the environment.

The ‘Qatar France Academia-Industry Initiative 2016’, which brought together representatives from industry, academia, and science and research, was jointly organised by QF, the French Embassy in Qatar, Total EP Qatar, and Qatar University (QU).

The opening of the forum was attended by Her Excellency Sheikha Hind bint Hamad Al Thani, Vice Chairperson and CEO of QF; His Excellency Eric Chevallier, French Ambassador to Qatar; and Guillaume Chalmin, Managing Director of Total EP Qatar.

The theme of the forum, which concluded on 6 December, was Energy and Environment, and sought to create timely dialogue among partners in Qatar, the region, and beyond, around global concerns facing the energy industry.

Dr Hamad Al Ibrahim, Executive Vice President, Qatar Foundation Research and Development (QF R&D), said: “By bringing together representatives from industry, academia, and science and research, this forum has reflected the essential role of multi-sectoral collaboration in addressing the most pressing challenges facing societies throughout the world.”

Dr Al Ibrahim continued: “Qatar’s dynamic, ambitious research and development ecosystem, focused on innovation and impact, is encouraging industry and academia to recognise the value of their distinct contributions to the development of solutions that bring economic and social benefit. We hope that this opportunity for Qatari and French institutions identifies areas of common interest in the field of energy and environment – one of Qatar’s Research Grand Challenges; will strengthen collaboration between these sectors and pave the way for new skills, capabilities, and knowledge that will drive Qatar’s research enterprise forward.”

The forum saw the participation of academics from top French higher education institutes with a focus on engineering, as well as representatives of French companies with a presence in Qatar including Total, Engie, Suez, Véolia, Alstom, SNCF, QDVC, EDF – and Qatar-based companies Qatalum, Kahramaa, Muntajat, and QAPCO.

Dr Hassan Al Derham, President of QU stated: “The Forum reflects the Qatari-French bilateral ties which play an important role in promoting cultural and economic relations between the two countries. The theme of the forum – energy and environment – is a timely one for dialogue among partners in Qatar, the region, and beyond. This is a global concern at a time when the energy industry is the main cause of many environment issues such as pollution, climate change and global warming.”

Workgroups on education, training, and research and development were organised to identify areas for collaboration between the public and private sectors in Qatar and France, and delivered a series of tangible outcomes and projects.

In the field of training and education, more than 30 internships in the participating companies will be offered in 2017 to Qatari students. Ecole Polytechnique, the leading French graduate school for science and technology, laid the first foundations for this initiative by proposing tutoring activities by their students.

Research and development opportunities were identified in technology hotspot areas identified through the 10th cycle of the National Priorities Research Program (NPRP) of Qatar National Research Fund (QNRF), part of QF R&D, such as environmental monitoring and the use of new materials for energy storage and water treatment.

According to H.E. Mr Chevallier: “The Qatar France Academia-Industry Forum Initiative aims to reinforce academic and industrial French participation to Qatar’s knowledge-based economy and capacity building within the framework of Qatar National Vision 2030, which has engaged the country in sustainable development, relying on groundbreaking research, innovation and cutting-edge technology. In this context, we expected very concrete outcomes from this forum, and I am happy the results went beyond our expectations.”

Total’s Mr Chalmin said: “We are honored to have been a part of the Qatari-French Academia & Industry Initiative 2016, which was a platform for fruitful discussion in energy and environment matters. We would like to thank Qatar Foundation and Qatar University, under whose patronage this event took place, and Institut Francais du Qatar, Engie, Veolia, and Alstom for being co-sponsors of the event. Our collaboration not only entails us to help create a dynamic global community where educators and industry stakeholders can work openly to identify common projects, and develop the energy sector, it also enables us to support the building of a knowledge-based economy in Qatar through supporting innovation and sustainable initiatives.”

French engineering schools and universities will develop joint projects with Qatari counterparts at Qatar Environment and Energy Research Institute (QEERI), a research institute of QF member Hamad bin Khalifa University (HBKU), QF partner university Texas A&M University at Qatar (TAMUQ), and QU. These projects will include French and Qatari companies as partners and will be submitted to the 10th cycle of NPRP and its subsequent cycles.

The partnership approach between French industry and Qatari academia was also reinforced during the Forum though the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between Suez and QU’s College of Arts and Sciences to develop internships and training. Meanwhile, the event concluded that the outcomes of scientific gatherings should extend into projects involving stakeholders in the public and private sectors, as well as government ministries, in fields including energy efficiency.