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Qatar plans $5bn UK-Doha green tech centre

A Rolls-Royce aircraft engine on display in Dubai in 2019. The British manufacturer will provide technical expertise to Qatar's Project Oryx Shutterstock/Aerospace Trek
A Rolls-Royce aircraft engine on display in Dubai in 2019. The British manufacturer will provide technical expertise to Qatar's Project Oryx
  • Project called ‘MIT for UK energy transition’
  • Doha research facility to be built
  • Qatar and Rolls-Royce signed 2021 MoU

The not-for-profit Qatar Foundation, which supports education, research and community development projects, is to invest in a £4 billion ($5 billion) green energy research and development centre spanning the UK and Qatar. 

The project has been dubbed the “MIT for UK energy transition” by organisers at management consultancy McKinsey & Co, The Sunday Times reported, a reference to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the US.

The foundation’s £4 billion investment includes the creation of a £1.5 billion fund to support UK startups developing ideas for green energy innovations, with the aim of starting “unicorn” companies eventually worth $1 billion. 

A sizeable base near the UK’s “golden triangle” of tech-focused research cities – London, Cambridge and Oxford – will be set up to attract entrepreneurs. 

The centre was described as having “considerable facilities around it – laboratories, conference centres and event spaces”, according to an unnamed source quoted in The Sunday Times

Under the plans, a second, university-style research facility in Qatar’s capital city of Doha will be built, aiming to support research into green aircraft fuel, carbon capture and storage, and long-term energy storage.  

The plans include a partnership with Rolls-Royce to bring in technical expertise but no capital, the newspaper added. In time, two further campuses are mooted for other parts of the UK, intended to specialise in piloting advanced manufacturing processes. 

McKinsey, which is involved in the plan known as “Project Oryx”, claims the facilities will create 7,500 high-skilled jobs by 2030 and develop businesses employing a further 30,000 people in 15 years.  

In October 2021, the Qatar Foundation and Rolls-Royce signed a memorandum of understanding pledging to create a “groundbreaking centre for climate-tech innovations that will combine R&D, accelerator activities and venture capital funding in a new global hub”.

The plans are expected to be formally announced in the coming weeks. 

AGBI has contacted the foundation for further comment.

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