Dr Abdul Sattar Al-Taie, Executive Director of QNRF and Chair of the NPRP-EP Committee, recently presided over the latest batch of submissions and here he throws light on the application procedure, which differs somewhat from the standard online submission procedure associated with the NPRP.
How do the proposals considered for funding under the NPRP-EP differ from those under the NPRP?
"First, let me be clear,” said Dr Al-Taie, “all the proposals funded by QNRF are of exceptional scientific merit. However, it is sometimes the case that proposals require resources in excess of those offered by the NPRP, and that is where the NPRP-EP makes a contribution. It offers a greater level of funding together with a longer period over which to perform the research and it is only reasonable that, as custodian of QNRF’s assets, we look more closely at such proposals."
"The majority of the NPRP terms and conditions apply, with a few amendments such as requirements for the LPI to have secured an increased number of publications and that they reside in Qatar for the duration of the project. There are also increases in the amount of effort and budget that are expended inside Qatar, and we don’t think these are unreasonable conditions given the size of the investment that QNRF is prepared to make."
So, is the application process the same online system as used in the NPRP?
"It differs slightly. As usual everything is subjected to RO vetting at the submitting institution. The LPI will upload an Initial Research Proposal (IRP) to QNRF along with a PowerPoint presentation in which the very essence of the project should be distilled down to 15 minutes. Their RO will vet these documents and vetted proposals will go on to the next stage, where it gets a little more personal! Each submitting LPI will be invited to QNRF’s offices to attend one of QNRF’s regular NPRP-EP evaluation sessions. Separately, each LPI will be invited to give a presentation, in person and based on the file submitted, to an invited NPRP-EP panel of experts. And he, or she, will be quizzed on aspects of the proposal, in line with QNRF’s guidelines. This is what we call a “gating procedure” and it acts as a filter prior to the next stage. Those that pass this interview stage will be invited to go ahead and build a full proposal online, which will be subject to QNRF’s normal vetting and compliance procedures."
Is the decision to fund or not fund made there and then?
"As I said, this is stage one. The second stage is matching the fully vetted proposal with up to seven peer reviewers – and, once again, they are selected from our roster of global experts. Once the peer reviewer’s comments and scores are received the LPIs may be asked to address any concerns raised by the peer reviewers but I have to say that this is a one-time offer, by which I mean that resubmissions are not allowed. After that the score will be compared to the cut-off point and a funding decision made."
How long will the LPI have to wait until he or she receives the funding decision?
On average, we expect it to be about nine months, from start to finish."
Are there any expectations with respect to output?
“Ultimately the state of Qatar requires a return on its investment and, in this respect, QNRF acts as a catalyst by offering the opportunity to turn a great idea into a great business, positioning Qatar on the road to developing an entrepreneurial, innovation-based economy. Of course, we recognize that new technologies are not developed overnight, but QNRFs’ support system is one way that we can improve the innovation process and make Qatar into an entrepreneurial hot-spot.”
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