France ready to support Qatari SMEs
21 Feb 2017 - 16:53
Mohammad Shoeb | The Peninsula
France, which is going to open the world’s largest startup incubator very soon, has stressed that it is “fully committed” to share its expertise in the sector with Qatar and support Qatar’s emerging small and mid-sized enterprises (SMEs).
In an interveiw with The Peninsula, Eric Chevallier (pictured), French Ambassador to Qatar,said his coutnry is more than happy to support Qatar's ambitious plans to diverssify the local economy.
Both France and Qatar are exploring ways to expanding and deepening economic relations in areas of common concern, with special focus on innovation, ICT and SME sector, Chevallier said.“We are keen to establish partnership in the field of innovation, technology and SME development. We want our SMEs to grow and be more developed, and we also know that Qatari authorities would like to see more local SMEs to be developed.
So the best way is to develop together”, said the envoy.
“We will have soon opening in the coming days the first incubator in the world with 1,000 startups gathered in our centre in Paris.”
The “mega-incubator” is a very ambitious project which is being developed in Paris by converting a century old railway building, spread across an area of 323,000 square foot, into room for up to 1,000 startups.
Since both the countries share the same goal of developing a vibrant SME sector, we can work together by establishing more partnership like the one inked recently between Qatar Business Incubation Centre (QBIC) and Paris&Co, the economic development and innovation agency of Paris, the ambassador said.
The MoU, Chevallier referred to, was signed in November 2016 on the sidelines of the Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW) event, by QBIC Chairman Abdulaziz bin Nasser Al Khalifa and the Mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, during her visit to Qatar.
The MoU aims to establish a mutually beneficial relationship between Doha and Paris that supports the incubation of startups through the sharing of knowledge and services provided by each incubator.
Chevallier also noted that more partnership in the area will not only be beneficial for Qatari SMEs but would be also provide the companies from both sides market access and the opportunity to work together in Qatar, GCC and other countries in the Middle East as well as Europe.
“It is very important for Qatar to be connected with the EU, the first market in the world with over 500 million consumers. And also it is equally important for Europe to be connected with Qatar, which is a very prominent country in terms of development,” said the ambassador of Europe’s third largest economy. The most EU members, especially France, fully support the idea of diversification of the Qatari economy.
Nearly a 200-member EU business mission, which included representatives from SME-dedicated organisations, participated recently at a business networking and match-making event hosted by Qatar Chamber. The participating firms from Germany, France, Italy, Belgium, and Spain represented a wide range of sectors, including communication, sports, infrastructure, and security and other services.