Posts tagged ‘APICTA’

Young innovators are what Pakistan is about

Most people around the world see Pakistan very differently from the way that you and I (Pakistanis) do, and from the way it actually is – maybe because they have never been here; maybe because they believe the myopic coverage on mainstream media; maybe because they have never met the hundreds of thousands of amazing people from Pakistan who are striving to make the world a better place. I strongly believe that we should talk about these people, ensure that others know who they are and what they are doing. Some of them are working on mass philanthropic efforts; yet others are working towards improving the economy on a broader scale … and then there are the young ones who are breaking all stereotypes and working on the cutting edge of technology.

FawwadOne such person, who I am fortunate enough to know, is Fawad Ejaz Bhatti, the CEO of Trequant. Fawad is a passionate young man working to improve the lives of people who suffer from tremors.

I first met Fawad last year when he was studying at NUST in Islamabad. He submitted his Final Year Project for the Tertiary Student Award Category at the P@SHA ICT Awards and won. The judges were very impressed not only with what he was trying to do but also with his attitude and his temperament.

The winners from Pakistan at APICTA 2014He went with us to the Asia Pacific ICT Awards in Jakarta in 2014 and presented Trequant to an international panel of judges and was declared a Runner Up in that category, with Osama Maruf – also from NUST – taking the top award in that category for his product Smart Seth. We could not have been more thrilled. The pride we felt at  the recognition that these young men had attained for themselves and for Pakistan, made everything we have ever done to support them, and others like them, totally worth it.

 Many young people work on Final Year Projects at university as just assignments; they take part in business plan competitions and award programs but once they graduate, they lose all interest in the projects that they  had once spent so much time on.

Not so with Fawad and his team of innovators. I continued to be in touch with Fawad on social media and followed what he was doing in the final year of his undergrad education. Last year he became part of The Nest i/o External incubatee program and I connected him with Shehryar Hydri, CMO of Convo who is a fabulous mentor.

TrequantEarlier this year Trequant joined the Plan 9 Incubator in Lahore. I met him and his team again last week when I visited Plan 9 to catch up with some of the teams there. The Trequant team showed me the watch they had made for tremor patients and told me what it could do. Tremors are a neurological disorder in which hands, head or legs shake involuntarily. Until now patients with tremors have found it difficult to get assessed. The Trequant Tremor Quantifying device enables patients to not only self-assess; it also allows the doctor and family members to monitor the patient’s progress. A dedicated application is able to analyze and track the tremor patterns.

Trequant goodiesSounds amazing, doesn’t it? It fills my heart with so much pride to see these youngsters come up with a product like this. Fawad gave me a package while I was there – the package contained, amongst other things, a personalized letter that I didn’t read there because I thought I might become emotional.

The letter is something they have been sending to some mentors and supporters who have motivated and helped them in their journey … and that is indeed sweet and considerate of them. There is a customized portion though and mine said “Dear Jehan, Hope you are well. Thank you Jehan. Thank you for always believing in me from the very first day. Your motivational talks and words of strength are the reason we have reached this far. We admire your work not just for us but for the tech scene of Pakistan. We at Trequant are on a mission to help 300 million tremor patients around the world using wearable technology. Since you have personally believed in us from the start, we are writing to you to give you the updates.” They then go on to provide the updates and end with this message: ” What we need from you is your vote of confidence and Hunaid, Jehan and Fawwadsupport all along our journey. We want to touch the lives of as many tremor patients as possible. Your support can help us achieve that.”

Fawad, there is no doubt that you and your team are on a mission, on a journey that will benefit a lot of patients around the world. It will be a privilege for me to do whatever I can to support you on your journey. You can always count on me to be there whenever you need me. Well done … and God bless you.

October 23, 2015 at 1:56 pm 2 comments

Well done Team P@SHA!

APICTA-2012-Day-Two-BannerThis is one of the rare times that I have been unable to accompany the Pakistan delegation to the Asia Pacific ICT Awards (APICTA) since I took over as President of the Association. To say that I was unhappy at not being able to go with them, would be an understatement. One of the greatest joys in my job at P@SHA is to recognize talent and innovation and promote and project it – talk about it, shout from the rooftops so that the world will realize the brilliance of the young people of this country. So not being able to go and witness their brilliance in Brunei was disappointing to say the least.

And brilliant they were!! Yet again!! Only 7 products were nominated from Pakistan this year. Of these 4 came away with Silver Awards. Of those 4, we had the amazing APICTA-2012-Hongkong-ReceptionDr. Shoab Khan, CEO of CARE, with their product Secure High Data Rate Wideband Networking Radio Waveform with Multiple Access for Software Defined Radios in the Communications Category, Munir Usman and Amir Ali Jiwani, CEO and CTO of Pi-Labs for their products Candy Pot/Feed Garfield in the very competitive New Media & Entertainment Category, Tunacode with their product gKrypt and a joint nomination from EME (NUST)/CARE/Shifa – the Network Enabled Retinal Image Analysis and Screening System for Grading and Diagnosis of Diabetic Retinopathy.

As Jawwad Ahmed Farid, our Chief Mentor for APICTA, says “we breathed a sigh of jawwad-farid-2012-Decrelief when we saw Dr. Shoab Khan walk into the Empire Hotel in Brunei because he is our Wasim Akram and Javed Miandad rolled into one. We know he is going to bowl everyone out and/or go for a huge SIX”. And that’s certainly true. CARE continues to innovate and produce great applications that compare with the best in the world.

What is extremely heartwarming is the performance of two startups in the most difficult categories at APICTA – Security and New Media and Entertainment. Pi-Lab’s Candy Pot/Feed Garfield Game Engine and Tunacode’s gKrypt made the judges sit up APICTA-2012-PASHA-090and take notice. Such work out of Pakistan always surprises technology gurus from the rest of the world but I think as year after year our technologists show what they are capable of, the judges are becoming used to seeing such innovation from our ICT industry.

The preparations for Team Pakistan’s participation at APICTA began weeks before the team travelled to Brunei. Jawwad Farid sent templates, tutorials and guidelines so that the teams would start preparing themselves for the task ahead. He and I bullied participants so that they would take the time from their busy schedules to concentrate on their presentations. Zafar Khan took the lead in Lahore and helped participants in Karachi via phone and email as well. I had to soothe the feathers of the Chief Mentor when he thought that nominees were not responding as quickly as he wanted them to. People like Rabia Garib and Talea Zafar put in time to help with storyboarding and presentation preparations for a APICTA-2012-PASHA-094couple of the participants. Powerpoints went back and forth from Lahore and Islamabad to Karachi and several iterations later they were still being fine-tuned.

At APICTA I wear 3 hats – Economy Coordinator, EXCO Member and Head of Delegation. It requires a lot of multitasking but it is a labour of love and I thoroughly enjoy it. Since I knew that I would not be going this year, I had to make sure that I delegated the work to friends within the delegation.

Sadaf Ali from my team at P@SHA, was given the role of Economy Coordinator. I know a couple of our CEC members were a little nervous about a total novice taking on this important task but I had faith in young Sadaf and I am proud to say that my faith was not misplaced. From the time she took on the task weeks before flying to Brunei, she took to it like a duck to water. I was copied on everything so I knew APICTA-2012-PASHA-010exactly what she was up to. She was pro-active and competent and the feedback from Brunei shows that she did a much better job than I would have. Well done Sadaf!

Another young woman in the delegation was Syeda Areej Kamal from NED University. She didn’t win in the Tertiary Student Category because there was some extremely tough competition in terms of technology as well as student projects already generating over US$40,000 in revenue. The support that those projects receive in terms of training, participation costs over the year at various events and investment by government in their projects is what helps those kids from countries like Hong Kong to perform brilliantly each year. We need to take a look at what we are missing out on by not offering similar support to our youngsters. However, if you had seen Areej’s presentation, you would be amazed. It wowed our mentors and judges during the late night mentoring sessions at the Empire Hotel in Brunei. They shared it with me and I was blown away. Well done Areej. We are proud of you.

My EXCO duties were shared by Jawwad, Zafar and Sultan who are very popular at APICTA and who’ve made many friends in the region. Pak team minus SajjadThey, and Badar Khushnood, have as judges won the respect of counterparts from the Asia Pacific and Pakistan is lucky to have such passionate and dedicated professionals representing us. Badar covers his own costs (as did Faizan Siddiqi this year) to travel to APICTA, to provide great feedback to nominees during the prep sessions and to generally be there as part of the supporting team that projects our country and our industry so phenomenally. Thanks guys. Where would we be without you?

The Head of Delegation duty was transferred to Sultan Hamdani – and who better than our Sultan to head a delegation to Brunei. The man is a total charmer and gets people to do whatever is needed whenever its needed and finds creative solutions to any problem that may creep up.

As you can see, the team was in good hands… and yet like a mother hen, I worried nonetheless. I kept bugging them with emails and messages on GTalk. The night APICTA-2012-Day-Two-End-of-Daybefore the results were announced I didn’t sleep because I was so anxious. First thing in the morning I kept pinging them to ask if there was any news coming out of the Final Judges’ meeting. I was on pins and needles. It was as if my life depended on it. I needn’t have worried though. Team Pakistan didn’t let us down. They held the flag high and did us proud. Thank you guys and girls. Thank you for allowing us to hold our heads up high once again.

Other relevant posts:
APICTA Photo Blog – Arrival

APICTA Judging Brunei -Day 1

Team Pakistan picks up four Silvers at Empire Hotel in Brunei

More photos of Team Pakistan from APICTA 2012

Some of the coolest people who were judges at APICTA 2012 from Pakistan

Profiles of Team Pakistan at APICTA 2012

December 6, 2012 at 12:09 pm 7 comments

Winner validates funding decision

In April 2010, the Center for Advanced Research in Engineering (CARE) applied to the National ICT R&D Fund for a grant to research and develop an Arrhythmia and Sudden Death Syndrome Detection Hybrid Network Based Telemedicine System. The grant amount was Rs. 13.5 million.

So what was the problem that they were trying to solve? This is how they explain it.

Electrocardiography (ECG) is one of the tools of cardiac monitoring. The dilemma is that despite the installation of hundreds of ECG machines in hospitals and clinics throughout the country, patients with severe arrhythmic abnormalities are often misdiagnosed or mistreated usually in rural areas due to unavailability of expert cardiologists at the ECG monitoring station. Moreover, most ECG machines presently installed do not have capabilities like High Resolution signal acquisition, remote monitoring, real time data storage and patient database management.

The project proposed to develop a prototype system to demonstrate geographically distributed installation of network enabled ECG recording and analysis stations with normal and High Resolution digital ECG machines capable of self diagnosing a patient for different arrhythmic abnormalities as well as early detection of risks associated with fatal arrhythmias which can lead to sudden cardiac death by running state of the art signal processing algorithm. The system was to provide 24/7 ECG recording and analysis facility with universal connectivity through dialup, Ethernet, GPRS, Radio and Satellite for connection to the central server located in the Cardiac Control Center (CCC) of a Central Hospital. The system would also have the capability to provide expert opinion to patients with severe arrhythmic abnormalities by transmitting their physiological data to the cardiologists at a central hospital through a universal communication device already developed in CARE. Here the expert cardiologists would receive ECG data and profile of patients with severe arrhythmic abnormalities and suggest treatment in real time. The ECG record and the patient profile would be stored at the server and a database for patients and their cardiac history would be managed for future reference as well as for off-line analysis and data-mining.

This was the solution that Dr. Shoab Ahmed Khan and his team researched and developed at CARE. This was the solution that won the top prize in the e-Health category in the P@SHA ICT Awards 2011. In November Dr. Shoab, Dr. Zaheer and Dr. Mohsin then accompanied the rest of the innovators from Pakistan, as well as the mentors and judges, to APICTA in Thailand. Here they competed against 162 other products in different categories and in the e-Health category they won hands down and came back with the winners’ trophy.

Last week Dr. Shoab and I went to show the coveted trophy to Dr. Aun Abbas, the CEO of the National ICT R&D Fund. It is important for us to show organizations like the National ICT R&D Fund that their investment in applied research helps innovators in this country to develop technology products that are useful to the citizens of this country and to the world and are actually world class products that can compare with the best in the region.

November 25, 2011 at 11:19 am 3 comments

Pakistan grab two golds & five silvers at APICTA 2011 in Pattaya Thailand

They came, they saw, they conquered. That describes it all. As Pakistan’s name was called again and again earlier this evening at the Asia Pacific ICT Awards (APICTA) 2011, my heart was bursting with pride and a sense of accomplishment. Team work had allowed us to get this far. From the judges, to the mentors – and the nominees, the innovative products, the presentations, the Q&A, the sleepless nights, the hours of work, rehearsals, dry runs – it has all been worth it!

Pakistan was amongst the leaders at the APICTA event this evening. We were right up there with Hong Kong, Australia and Malaysia. Our friends from around the region came and shook our hands and remarked “Pakistan certainly has done well!” One could see the respect in their eyes, one could hear it in their voices. They had recognized the fact that Pakistan had truly arrived!

Team Pakistan comprised of 18 products which were benchmarking themselves with 162 competing products from the Asia Pacific region. 48 judges spent two long days evaluating and assessing the “best of the best” from the region.

Pakistan walked away with two golds in the e-Health and e-Logistics & SCM categories and 5 silvers in the Communication, Financial, Security, E-Inclusion & E-Community and E-Government categories. The Center for Advanced Research in Engineering (CARE) once again swept the Awards with the gold in e-Health and the silver in Communication, Security and E-Government categories. Lumensoft Technologies went for gold in the e-Logistics category with Infotech Group taking the silver in the Financial Apps category and Engro-Orix taking the silver in the E-Inclusion & E-Community category. Complete results have been announced on Jawwad’s blog.

We had been worrying about those who didn’t quite make it to the top slots from Pakistan but it was great to see how involved they became in celebrating the wins we had. All of them rose to the occasion and surrounded the winners, hugging them, patting them on the back, showing all-in-all how much the wins meant to Pakistan.

The CARE team comprising of Dr. Shoab Khan, Dr. Zaheer Ahmed and Dr. Mohsin were over the moon. They had worked very hard to get to this stage of the competition this year and as they went up to the stage over and over again to claim their rightful awards, several judges went up to them and offered their congratulations, told them how impressive they were and what a great contribution they were making to the country. Some of them offered to work with them, to form collaborations, to help position their products in other countries.

Abdul Aziz, CEO of Lumensoft, was competing for the second time at APICTA with a maturer product and a presentation that was crisp and clear and delivered extremely well. He last presented in Melbourne in 2009. When I asked him what he felt was the difference between his two attempts, he said unabashedly “My presentation in Melbourne was pathetic – no wonder I didn’t win!” A great example of a CEO who shed his ego, listened to the advice given by mentors and gave a 100 %. Well done!

The Infotech team was just as willing to take feedback and incorporate it into the build up for the Awards. Amir and Suresh presented well, answered every question with clarity and gave it their best. The Silver in the Financial Application category is a difficult one to attain because Infotech was up against some stiff competition. Preparation paid off in the end.

The Engro/Orix team were stupendous in the way they presented Eman in the E-Inclusion and E-Community category. Atif and Zainab put forward a presentation that wowed the judges and got for them the silver. It is a wonderful program and we hope that this win eggs them on to do other more interesting things with technology. As some of us are fond of saying, 125000 technology professionals cannot move ahead into the new developed age without taking the rest of Pakistan with us. It is for this reason that automation products like Eman are extremely important to the development of our community and our rural sector. Thanks guys for a terrific product. We hope to see more from you in the future.

Team Pakistan did us proud today and we were happy to see that the news brought joy to the faces of many and warmed and thrilled our hearts.

We have great plans for Brunei in 2012. Let us put the plans in action now!

November 12, 2011 at 1:16 am 21 comments

Amazingly weird people – what would we do without them?

Every year for the past 5 – 6 years I have been working with individuals who have dedicated much of their valuable time toward making sure that the depth that exists in the Pakistan IT industry is recognized domestically and across the region. They have spent countless hours, days and many a sleepless night working with companies and individuals to ensure that they are ready to face the tough criteria laid down by the Asia Pacific ICT Awards (APICTA) Judging Committee. The same criteria is used to assess applications submitted for the P@SHA ICT Awards.

Each year I continue to be amazed by the selfless dedication of these individuals. Why do they do it? Some people think it is because I bully them into it, that they can’t refuse otherwise I would nag them to kingdom come. But that is not it – that is not it at all.

These gentlemen have faith in the expertise and talent that exists in Pakistan and they have a strong belief that the applications developed here are second to none in technological innovation and quality. Customers that our companies have worked with are already aware of this. However, the message needs to be broadcast far and wide for us to be able to scale up as only we know we can. And what better way to do that than to ensure that we are present at international events where we can benchmark our applications with those developed in other hi-tech markets – and prove ourselves beyond question to be at par with them, if not better.

On several visits to APICTA we have taken over conference rooms, executive lounges, lobbies or hung out in one of our rooms with several teams of nominees till the early hours, going over presentations, demanding they be rebuilt from scratch, tweaking the way presentations are delivered, asking tough questions, being absolutely ruthless in our comments. The reason? It is better that nominees go through this “hell”with us rather than in front of an international panel. Sometimes I wonder what goes through the minds of CEOs, CTOs, VPs and Directors of organizations as they are ripped apart by these seasoned judges a few days, or sometimes even the night before they are to make their presentations at APICTA.

Do they hate us? Do they ask themselves “Who do they think they are anyway?”. Do they curse us in the deep recesses of their hearts? Well, apparently not (or maybe they are just not admitting it?) 😉

This partial message from one of our nominees at APICTA 2010 warmed our hearts:

Getting crucified & pushed forward at the same time by the judges has given us tremendous confidence in what we’re up to. And by trying to show you why ‘xyz’ is important and how we can make it grow faster, we have also learned why it’s important and how to grow it faster. So you probably made us learn a lot more than you know 🙂 I wanted to write to you to show my sincere appreciation for the awesomeness, dedication and competence of the entire team.

It is one of several messages that we have received so far and it shows that nominees understand and appreciate that no matter how “vicious” the training may seem, the intent is a good one and usually delivers results.

It is only when people travel with us, or are involved in training locally before the teams depart for an international destination, do they realize the “blood and sweat” and teamwork that goes into prepping for these Awards. From the time the nominees win the local Awards, they are connected with mentors in the three main cities – Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad, and the rigorous task of training them for international participation begins.

Those who take advantage of this opportunity, and implement the changes that they are asked to, benefit. Those who don’t, wish they had. It is a lesson learnt the hard way.

Although it is important to take some of the same Judges to APICTA each year because they have built up a rapport with judges from the region, and also have a certain amount of credibility with the organizers, it is also important to add on new judges so that the pool of mentors and judges continues to expand over time. So each year we recruit at least one new judge. This also shows our friends in the region that we have a large number of qualified professionals within our industry.

And you know what? It is not only the judges that adopt this “all for one and one for all” attitude. Nominees to APICTA and previous winners are also drawn into the magic circle. You can see them helping each other, working with each other, making suggestions, and celebrating the success of their comrades. The unity is great to see, wonderful to experience.

As I watch these guys each year mentoring, coaching, demonstrating, as they fight sleep and are ready to pull their hair out while explaining for the umpteenth time why sales presentations won’t work at competitions such as APICTA, I can’t keep the smile from my lips. These are people I trust, people whom I have great respect for and whose opinions matter to me and to all the teams that they have worked with over the years. I am proud to count them amongst my circle of friends. Thank you Jawwad, Zafar, Sultan, Nadeem, Adnan, Badar, Yusuf, Imran and all the others who continue to contribute to the success and growth of this industry that we all believe in and cherish.


I just re-read the post Jawwad Farid wrote as he left APICTA 2010 and I simply had to add these two bits from his post (though I really would suggest that you read the entire post he has written on this subject):

The process changes all of us. It changes the participants first of all because they are now able to look beyond their sales presentation and look upon themselves as ambassadors to the region. It changes us as Judges as we see the quality of work and the commitment of our delegation to not just winning but putting our best foot forward as a group. But most importantly it changes everyone who sees the results from APICTA EXCO members to delegates from twenty two countries in the region, who look at how far we have come in the last few years, despite all our challenges and handicaps. More importantly it allows us to reset the benchmark for everyone; for what qualifies as the best of the best in the Asia Pacific region when it comes to technology and the impact it must create on every life that it touches.

At the Jakarta APICTA Awards in 2008 all our hard work was validated with three wins. TPS, Pixsense and Kraysis came back home with the winners trophies. The 7 merit awards across 6 diverse categories at APICTA 2010, Kula Lumpur, Malaysia, this Friday, proved that our wins in Singapore, Jakarta and Australia were not flukes. Great software gets written in Pakistan by great engineers who with a little bit of brow beating and abuse from their mentors (onsite and offsite) are able to stand on their own and make great pitches in front of international judges. Even nominees that don’t pick up the first two wins no longer come home empty handed. They come back with the respect of their fellow delegates, of the panel of judges who reviewed and judged them and of the mentors who worked with them. For in the end the difference between success and failure is but a few decisions and that has never been more truer than at APICTA.

October 26, 2010 at 10:56 pm 3 comments

Hasnain Akhtar talks about his APICTA experience

Hasnain Akhtar is CEO of Aerocar. His rugged, low-energy consumption self service machines that run Open Source solutions won the P@SHA ICT Award in the E-Inclusion & E-Community category. He then went on to present at the APICTA Awards in Kuala Lumpur and won the Merit Award in the same category.

Here Hasnain tells us a little about the machines that he has developed that are used to help the unbanked population in Pakistan and elsewhere. He also talks about his APICTA experience.

October 24, 2010 at 9:03 am 1 comment

Jawwad Farid talks about participation in APICTA

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Jawwad Ahmed Farid, CEO of Alchemy Technologies, was a nominee at APICTA in 2005. In subsequent years he has been a mentor for participating companies; he has been a judge for the P@SHA ICT Awards and a Judge and a Head Judge at several APICTAs.

Here Jawwad talks about the importance of participation in APICTA, of the benefits derived by companies and of Pakistan’s journey and the impact we have created over the years.

October 19, 2010 at 4:54 am 4 comments

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