KARACHI: The ministry of information technology and telecommunication is going to set up a Rs2 billion Centre of Excellence on Animation at the University of Karachi for promotion of animation, VFX and game development across the country.

In this regard, a memorandum of understanding was signed between Ignite, a non-profit incubation centre owned by the federal government and administered by the IT & Telecom ministry, and the University of Karachi here on Saturday.

Ignite was represented by its chief executive Asim Shahryar while acting Vice Chancellor Prof Dr Khalid Iraqi signed the document on behalf of the KU.

According to Mr Shahryar, the centre is being set up in the building of the Sheikh Zayed Institute in collaboration with KU for which they have set aside 28,000 square feet of space.

The proposed centre is expected to begin operations in six to eight months

“The centre will be larger than any incubation centre in Pakistan and unique in terms of facilities. The total cost of the project is Rs2 billion of which Rs1bn will be spent on provision of equipment and facilities while the rest will be spent on its expenditure over five years,” he added.

As per the MoU, the Centre of Excellence will house a vertical incubator, training facility, production studio and co-working space for promotion of animation, VFX and game development across the country. The centre is expected to start operations in six to eight months.

Speaking on the occasion, Federal Minister for IT & Telecom Syed Aminul Haque said that the marvels of animated content had shown incredible innovation and ingenuity. Its appeal and attraction to the human mind had significantly increased its demand all over the world. “We aim to empower our youth also to take a larger chunk off the current global animation market. We must tell the world that our youth is on par with the world in adapting to this creativity,” he said.

He said the estimated size of the global animation industry is about $370bn and it is expected to double by 2030 to $642bn. “One may question Pakistan’s current market share in this big market. The answer is a rather embarrassing: ‘nothing’. But this does not mean that our young people are below par in competency or skill to anyone in terms of creativity and innovation. The issue is that they have never been able to access such facilities that can help augment their talent. Keeping these shortcomings in mind, our ministry is now committed to providing the youth with all those facilities, infrastructure, and trainings that are too expensive for an average person to afford here,” he said.

“Pakistan has a huge potential in this area and it can be one of the key regional players in gaming, animation and multimedia through training, mentorship of our youth, who can be facilitated though gaming and animations startups and incubation/acceleration programmes.

“The Centre of Excellence will bring a paradigm shift in reviving up research and innovation in gaming, visual effects, computer vision and artificial intelligence through a robust ecosystem in collaboration with technical partners, industry, investors, associations and government. It will bolster indigenous product development while propelling the growth of tech entrepreneurship in the country,” he said.

Mr Haque thanked the director general of the Inter-Services Public Relations, Major General Babar Iftikhar, for supporting the ministry at all levels and said both the ministry and ISPR were working jointly in promoting the animation ecosystem, which would help in job creations for the youth.

KU VC Dr Iraqi said that he could feel a deep sense of satisfaction and appreciation that this strategic triangle was going to be formed.

He assured the minister and the entire team of Ignite that the proposed Centre of Excellence on Animation at KU would be completely supported by all hardware and software expertise available at the university. “Our faculty and students would also be benefited by this joint venture,” he concluded.

The event was also attended by lawmakers, IT & Telecom secretary Dr Sohail Rajput, Brig Jahangir Ahmed and others.

Published in Dawn, October 10th, 2021

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