Responding to the growing startup trend in Pakistan, the government announced a PKR 2.91 Billion fund to accelerate the growth and innovation process for startups. The establishment of the fund will be done through Higher Education Commission of Pakistan (HEC).
The aim of the fund is to help innovative, knowledge intensive initiatives to secure funding and resources. This will stimulate the supply of funds to the deserving entrepreneurs and startups across Pakistan. It will also enable universities to refine good ideas and turn them into sustainable businesses.
The project will provide a framework for collaboration between the academic sector and the private sector in areas of business development for the local economy.
The execution process of this initiative may also highlight the gaps in both sectors and act as an instrument for capacity. Encouraging such funds may also lead to high impact partnerships for commercializing academic research and technology advancement.
As technology advances, new ways to communicate with students becomes essential. The previous record of the universities shows that they have struggled immensely to promote the right models for enterprise development but the current dynamic team at HEC may bring a permanent change.
The inability of the universities and SMEs to develop effective partnerships and gain information is critical to business survival in Pakistan. The growing rate of unemployment in the face of an increase in youth population of the youth are reasons enough to encourage improvement in decision making by the government and this may just be the action point of a long awaited journey.
HEC had previously advised the universities to establish ORIC (Office for Research, Innovation and Commercialization) Centers to promote entrepreneurial culture among students. Dr. Arshad Ali, the new executive director of HEC, has formed a steering committee to redirect the goals of ORIC and align them with the goals of the new fund.
The committee includes reputable members and stakeholders from the business community. The innovation steering wing is also in the process of finalizing the execution strategy for the new fund. The aim of the stakeholders involved is to provide better strategic dimension and coordination of support services for student led initiatives.
In Pakistan, there are several programs, incubators, accelerators and financial advisory services that assist the startups and small businesses. However, in order to generate a greater impact, more initiatives are required at different levels of the economy for the deserving entrepreneurs.
The growing trend of self-employment and the need to start ones’ own business may benefit the Pakistani economy and change some important economic figures like domestic demand and unemployment rate. Access to such funds can result in developed human capital and an advanced technology- together they can undoubtedly serve as agents for economic revolution in Pakistan.