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Qatar Call for Bids: Gulf Strategy Fund 2024-2025

British Embassy Doha, in collaboration with the Qatar Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA), the AI Committee of the Qatar Ministry of Communications & Information Technology (MCIT), and Qatar Research, Development and Innovation Council (QRDI), is pleased to invite proposals for a Gulf Strategy Fund (GSF) scoping project on Qatar-UK Collaboration on Artificial Intelligence (AI).

The project will be delivered between September 2024 and March 2025.

Project purpose, scope and deliverables

Background

Both the UK and Qatar are mobilising on AI, developing strategic responses to recent major technological developments and responding to the increased global interest in the field. This creates opportunities for mutually beneficial bilateral cooperation on AI in what is a still emergent space, particularly where there are existing alignments in principles and approach.

Qatar has recently made a number of high profile announcements across a range of fields, which build on its 2019 strategy and connect to other major national initiatives such as the Digital Vision 2030. These announcements include the development of an indigenous Large Language Model (Al Fanar), a tripling of data centre capacity, procurement of high performance computing resources, as well as developments on policy and governance and in the field of international relations.

The UK has invested over £2 billion into AI, helping build a robust innovation and research ecosystem, and has launched initiatives to attract global AI talent. It has also been active on policy and regulation both domestically and globally, to develop responsible pro-innovation frameworks to balance innovation with addressing risk. This has included launching the AI Safety Summit, a major gathering of government, business and civil society to tackle the shared global challenge of ensuring the safe development of AI technologies.

The purpose of the proposed project is to build on these developing ambitions in both countries, and identify and scope practical and ambitious ways to enhance UK-Qatar cooperation on AI in ways that support the two countries’ respective AI and critical technologies strategies*. In addition, and in achieving its primary purpose, this proposed project should enhance the bilateral relationship between the UK and Qatar.

Project focus

The focus of this project is on collaboration to address the shared, and multifaceted, challenge of building and scaling AI ecosystems. This is about coordinating and aligning government, academic and commercial efforts and resources across a range of domains, building self-sustaining, dynamic, ethical, ecosystems which both produce leading AI-enabled enterprises and contribute more generally to national AI development and positioning on the international stage.

There are in principle significant opportunities for bilateral cooperation between the UK and Qatar which would support efforts in both countries, and between the two countries, to achieve this.

The UK and Qatar are seeking smart, actionable, realistic and ambitious recommendations for taking collaboration forward in a practical and delivery-focused manner.

The project will be required to:

  •  analyse areas where the UK and Qatar might collaborate to build and scale their respective AI ecosystems, including launching the next generation of AI-enabled companies and integrating AI into existing enterprises, as well as driving UK-Qatar commercial partnerships related to AI
  • analyse where UK-Qatar diplomatic cooperation can promote safe, secure and trustworthy commercial development of AI, both in the UK and Qatar, and internationally, to support the development of AI ecosystems in the two countries
  • analyse how UK-Qatar cooperation on AI ecosystems can in turn enhance the effective utilisation of AI in the field of diplomacy in ways that support shared foreign policy challenges, including in the area of diplomatic mediation
  • assess and provide recommendations for how UK-Qatar AI cooperation can be integrated into existing UK-Qatar diplomatic structures (e.g., the Strategic Dialogue), and how proposals can be practically executed (e.g. on their proposed governance, structures, and funding)

‘AI ecosystem development’ should be understood holistically, i.e. across all relevant domains, including infrastructure, policy and governance, R&D and commercial capital deployment, and international relations.

Required deliverables

The project will be required to deliver the following activities and outputs:

  1. An inception report detailing a plan for delivering the research and activities, which will be approved by British Embassy Doha, within one month of the project commencing.
  2. Regular written and oral updates/briefings to British Embassy Doha and its collaborative partners (i.e. MOFA, QRDI and the AI Committee).
    3.    A series of engagement activities, such as round-table discussions, seminars, field visits, etc. that will enable regular and policy relevant discussions with a range of stakeholders.
  3. A final report presenting the analysis undertaken and with a focus on practical recommendations – actionable in the short-term – of how the UK and Qatar might develop areas of collaboration and cooperation in the above areas of AI, by the end of the project, by March 2025.

The project will be led by British Embassy Doha, and co-designed in partnership with MOFA, MCIT’s AI Committee and QRDI.

The project’s partners wish to support the professional development of Qatari university graduates and those new to the workforce. Therefore, potential project implementers are encouraged to include steps which will allow high-potential Qatari graduates to participate in the project in ways which support their professional development.

Eligibility

  1. Only applications from non-profit organisations, non-governmental organisations, or government entities are eligible.

  2. Applications are open to organisations based anywhere in the world; however, priority will be given to those with strong, existing links and track record of successful delivery in Qatar and/or the GCC and the UK, with subject matter expertise in the field of AI/or critical technology

  3. Applicants must also demonstrate technical competency/experience in AI. This would ideally include competency/expertise in the AI sub-domains most relevant to the project’s scope as outlined above; i.e. competency/expertise in developing AI and AI-enabled ecosystems, which encompasses policy, regulation & governance; data infrastructure & other data needs; R&D and capital deployment; skills; international relations and diplomacy around AI, etc.

  4. Demonstrable familiarity with AI developments in the UK and Qatar is advantageous.

  5. The project must be led by a single lead implementer holding full accountability for the full project budget. A lead implementer may, subject to British Embassy Doha’s agreement, sub-contract project activity to a third party.

  6. Project proposals must: be complete; demonstrate clear project design; and include a plan for measuring impacts and results (Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning (MEL).

How to apply

We would encourage potential applicants to discuss project ideas with the British Embassy Doha Programmes Team before submitting an application or to seek further clarification.

We are happy to discuss individual proposals with potential eligible implementing partners, and encourage potential eligible implementing partners to contact the Programmes Team, [email protected] with any questions.

To submit a proposal:

  • complete and submit the following:

  1. Project Proposal Form (ODT, 61.2 KB)
  2. Activity Based Budget (ABB) – this template must clearly indicate the planned expenditure, including delivery, administrative, and staffing costs itemised.

The deadline for full applications (with Project Proposal Form, and ABB) is 12 August 2024.

Process

Proposals will be appraised according to the appraisal criteria below, and submitted to the Embassy Programme Board for consideration. British Embassy Doha will expedite the approval process to the extent possible, but cannot approve projects until formal funding allocation is confirmed by FCDO. 

Approved projects will then begin the mobilisation process before beginning implementation, including:

  • due diligence assessments 
  • preparation and signing of an accountable Grant Agreement (AGA) / or Memorandum of Understanding (MoU)

Background to the GSF

The GSF is a UK Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office (FCDO) fund within the FCDO’s International Programme. It supports Qatar’s ambitious ‘National Vision 2030’ agenda for modernisation, economic diversification and climate action, while enhancing mutual prosperity by promoting inward investment and creating opportunities for UK companies, especially in the education, climate, culture, tourism, sport and finance sectors. The GSF is also expected to align with the UK Government’s strategic priorities in Qatar.

All projects must demonstrate value for money. FCDO defines ‘value-for-money’ as, ‘making the best possible use of our all resources to maximise our impact’. In programme work, maximising impact includes having a robust, evidence-based theory of change demonstrating the causal pathway between the intervention and outcomes that support FCDO strategic priorities. 

Further guidance

In awarding and overseeing programme funds British Embassy Doha is obliged to comply with all Cabinet Office and FCDO rules and guidance, including but not limited to those set out in the FCDO Programme Operating Framework (PrOF). Potential implementing partners should especially take note of the following requirements:

  • FCDO can only pay for costs that are incurred after signature of the Grant Agreement or MoU and between the start and end date stated in a funding agreement. No payment can be made in advance of need. All projects must align with the Paris Agreement and assess climate and environmental impact and risks, taking steps to ensure that no environmental harm is done
  • all projects must demonstrate how their interventions will impact gender equality, disability inclusion and those with protected characteristics
  • all projects involving paid-for communications activity must receive clearance from the Professional Communications Assurance (PCA) team prior to signing a GA / MoU
  • all approved projects will be expected to comply with FCDO mandated reporting requirements using templates provided, including: (i) Monthly ABB forecasts; (ii) Quarterly Monitoring Reports (QMR) and (iii) Project closure report (PCR)
  • all projects activities must be completed within the financial year for which the funding is approved. Projects should plan to complete activities by February or very-early March to allow for financial processing to be concluded before the end of each financial year

Contact

Programmes Team

British Embassy, Doha

[email protected]

Appraisal criteria

Criteria Explanation Weighting
Strategic fit The extent to which the proposed project demonstrates it will further the project purpose and scope as set out in this document, and clearly incorporates the deliverables proposed. 25%
Value for Money FFCDO defines ‘value-for-money’ as, ‘making the best possible use of our all resources to maximise our impact’.  In programme work, maximising impact includes having a robust, evidence-based theory of change demonstrating the causal pathway between the intervention and outcomes that support FCDO strategic priorities. 25%
Feasibility Are project objectives realistic in the timeframe?  Are stakeholders (Especially within Qatar Government) supportive? 15%
Risk Is the risk assessment comprehensive and realistic? Are mitigation measures viable? Are any risks (reputational, financial) to FCDO and UK Government within an acceptable range? 15%
Consideration of cross-cutting issues Are cross-cutting issues, especially gender, climate and disability inclusion, dealt with adequately? Proactively? 10%
Capability of the implementing organisation Does the organisation have a proven record of performance delivering in this context or similar contexts? 10%

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