Innovation initiatives?

April 12, 2010 at 11:34 pm 6 comments

Did you know that Pakistan has a Federal Innovation Board? Well, I didn’t know this very important fact until a few weeks ago when I was invited to make a presentation on “Innovation in the Pakistan IT industry” at an Innovation workshop organized by the Competitiveness Support Fund (CSF) and the Higher Education Commission (HEC) in Karachi.

So what does this Board do one might ask? Well, we were told that in fact the Board hasn’t yet had its first meeting in all the time that it has existed. That is innovative indeed!

Visiting the CSF website I was a little confused. Apparently an Innovation Strategy Working Group (I-SWOG) was set up in April 2009 with the purpose of developing a National Innovation Strategy Framework and for the preparation of a  National Innovation Policy for submission to the Cabinet. The Board has been created to oversee all activities related to fostering an innovation ecosystem in Pakistan. Now I am not sure if there are two Boards. They had a couple of meetings in May 2009 and then there is no more information on the site regarding any other activities until this Innovation Workshop which I was a part of on March 4, 2010.

I am told that there is a fresh move to reconstitute the Board and actually move ahead with developing a strategy. So let’s see how things progress. I wish them luck.

What I really wanted to highlight in this post was that there is some great stuff happening in Pakistan and some of it is being driven by the HEC. Dr. Sohail Naqvi’s presentation (he is the Executive Director of the HEC) was an eye-opener in many ways. He talked about some of the initiatives taken by the HEC which included the setting up of a Mac Product Design Lab at the University of Gujrat where women come and design some amazing furniture and products. There is a lot of work being done to improve the quality as well as increase the production of citrus and other agricultural produce with amazing results – almost triple the amount that was being produced before. There is work being done in the development of vaccines and much much more. I pointedly asked Dr. Naqvi why some of these amazing initiatives were not highlighted in the press and and different industry events. He responded that both of us were guilty of the same thing because when I made my presentation on Innovation in the IT industry, it left quite a few people in the room wide-eyed. There is so much innovation taking place in our sector that no-one appears to know about. Obviously Sohail and I will both need to get our act together and showcase all the great work that is taking place a lot more.

Dr. Samar Mubarakmand, Member Science & Technology Planning Commission talked about the Competitiveness and Innovation in Pakistan’s Manufacturing industry. This was followed by a presentation from Dr. Lars Eklund, Founder of the Scandinavian Competitiveness Group who talked about the different innovation models that had been adopted by various governments in Sweden and Finland.

Breaking for tea, the roundtable was then broken up into 4 groups who then discussed what the objectives of Pakistan’s short and long term innovation system should be as well as the challenges that would need to be overcome.

It was a good session that produced some very useful ideas. However, one needs to see where this will go from here. It was good to see people like Faizan Buzdar of Scrybe participating in the workshop but I wish more young people had been involved. After all this strategy is going to affect them. They should be involved in its formulation. Perhaps I am jumping the gun and there will be some move on the part of Arthur Banyan and his team at CSF and Sohail Naqvi and his team at HEC to take this to the universities for input before a concept paper in finalized. Good luck guys. We are here to help in any way we can.

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Now I have seen everything! P@SHA & TiE holding SI session in Karachi on April 14 at 6 pm

6 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Hammad Siddiqui  |  April 12, 2010 at 11:46 pm

    Well! in Pakistan a number of such initiatives fail to takeoff! Nevertheless, they admitted the fact.

  • 2. Innovation initiatives? | Tea Break  |  April 13, 2010 at 12:34 am

    […] This cup of tea was served by: In the Line of Wire […]

  • 3. Tarique Aftab  |  April 21, 2010 at 6:36 pm

    So many things were hidden or out of sight in this country. But the time is going to be changed due to IT and lot of awareness. Keep discovering new avenues.

  • 4. Muhammad Siddique  |  April 23, 2010 at 8:13 pm

    I’d to appreciate HEC for taking such initiatives!

  • 5. Khalil Arbi  |  May 8, 2010 at 4:38 pm

    The Initiative is good, but vision is lacking. In the workshop at the end nobody including the organizers were clear what next should be done? Model from Mr. Eklund was appreciating but has anybody attempted to design similar models in our own country? This is the duty of our own intellectuals to design a sustainable innovation eco-system in the country. Neither the Arthur nor the Eklund can do to foster innovation in the country. The ultimate responsibility comes on our shoulders to develop an innovation system which adheres to the demands of modern time.

  • 6. Ayisha Zia  |  June 5, 2010 at 4:37 pm

    I am very much interested i knowing about IT Innovation in Pakistan. I am on a Research Team at LUMS working on Atlas of Science and Technology-based Innovations in Islamic Countries. I would truly appreciate any information you can provide. Thank you!


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