KARACHI: The country’s start-up community has shown tremendous growth in recent years but there is still a vast potential for development, P@SHA President Jehan Ara said on Wednesday at the launch of tech incubator The Nest i/O.

She said the incubator — a 6,500 sq ft purpose-built facility situated above a supermarket on Shaheed-e-Millat road — would help create jobs in this city of 25 million people.

She said it “will provide a home for talented entrepreneurs and for showcasing innovative products to potential investors and customers”.

For the initiative, Pakistan Software Houses Association is partnering with Google and Samsung while the US Consulate General is the supporting organisation.

The facility buzzed with activity on Wednesday. However, apart from the tech related invitees, many people were oblivious to the term ‘tech incubator’ and confused the event as a launch for a new brand of incubators meant for babies or hatching eggs.

“This (tech incubator) was something the local business community thought was not a feasible idea but Samsung, Google and the US Consulate thought it was great,” said Jehan Ara at the inauguration.

Highlighting the services the resident incubatees would get, she said the set-up would allow for networking and market outreach, resources and mentoring as well as “uninterrupted power supply”. Along with this, the successful projects would receive $100,000 worth of cloud support from Google, with no strings attached.

The Nest i/O plans to support over 50 residential start-ups in its first year and to enable dozens more externally incubated start-ups in the long run.

In his brief speech, Samsung Pakistan MD J.H. Lee said young Pakistanis, particularly students, must utilise this space. “You are the future of your country. Make your ideas come true.”

On the occasion, the US Consul General Brian Heath highlighted the entrepreneurship projects that were being carried out under the aegis of USAID in Pakistan.

He said Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and US Secretary of State John Kerry were supporting private initiatives for entrepreneurs and four new projects were in the offing.

Korean Ambassador to Islamabad Jong Hwan Song and Head of Public Policy at Google Inc Asia-Pacific, Ann Lavin, also spoke on the occasion.

Published in Dawn, January 15th, 2015

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