ISLAMABAD (January 5, 2022): The Higher Education Commission (HEC) under its Higher Education Development in Pakistan (HEDP) project organized a one-day training session for the managers of Business Incubation Centres (BIC).
It was attended by more than 30 Managers of BICs from across Pakistan. During the training, importance of the role of BICs in the knowledge economy was highlighted. These centres will support the startups in entrepreneurial training, legal support, financial education, business development service provision, and investment readiness training.
In the age of knowledge economy, universities play a key role in the triple helix which brings together all key stakeholders of a knowledge ecosystem. HEC is implementing key projects to support universities in their important role as knowledge creators. Innovator Seed Fund is one such programme started by HEC under its flagship project Higher Education Development in Pakistan (HEDP). ISF is a uniquely collaborative national programme in which HEC along with its recognized BICs aims to support aspiring entrepreneurs who require “capacity + capital” support to build sustainable fast-growing enterprises based on innovative ideas.
The ISF programme is based on the idea of “Digital Knowledge Park” which aims to digitally connect all stakeholders of the knowledge and innovation ecosystem. This initiative stems out of the vision of Prime Minister Imran Khan for making Pakistan a leader in knowledge economy. The digital knowledge park will facilitate collaboration across the entire research, development and commercialization value chain and hence will be a major contributor to the knowledge economy of Pakistan.
DG (R&D) HEC Dr. Amjad Hussain and Director (R&D) Noshaba Awais welcomed the participants. In their opening remarks, they offered their full support to BIC teams. Mariam Riaz Wattoo, who leads the HEDP project at HEC, briefed the participants about the overall scope of HEDP project and gathered feedback from participants on how to improve HEDP Incubation programmes. HEDP Consultant Omer Jawed Ghani, who was the lead instructor for the training, guided the participants on the ISF implementation steps and HEC’s expectations from BICs under the ISF programme.
In her closing remarks at the event, Dr. Shaista Sohail Executive Director, HEC said:
“Aligned with HEC mission these Innovation Grants are the key component of the Higher Education Development in Pakistan Project (HEDP) launched for the very first time. HEC is fully supporting development of entrepreneurial and innovation ecosystem, hence, playing a key role in developing Pakistan’s knowledge economy.”
She stressed the dire national need to use the power of innovation to solve economic, social, and environmental challenges.
HEC has already conducted a series of ISF pre-launch outreach events focusing on all the thematic areas in line with the national growth policy. Renowned experts and entrepreneurs from industry were engaged in these events. A comprehensive mapping study of the knowledge & innovation ecosystem comprising of HEC recognized ORICs & BICs across the country was also commissioned by HEDP. This mapping report clearly identifies bottlenecks, with recommendations and implementation steps to address the challenges and put Pakistan on its transformation path towards a knowledge economy. ISF program will address all the gaps identified by the study.
Under ISF, 15 startups will be selected from across Pakistan with help of the BICS. The grant winners will receive up to $35,000 in seed funding as the initial investment for the startup. All startups located in Pakistan and started by a university student, recent graduate, alumni, faculty member and/or researcher are eligible to apply for ISF grant. The startup idea could have originated in public or private universities but the endorsement of the idea must be through an HEC approved BIC in a public sector university. Therefore, the training of the BIC managers was an essential first step towards launching a successful ISF programme. More details on the ISF program can be found on HEC website or HEDP LinkedIn page.