LAHORE: The Punjab Information Technology Board (PITB) and Sweden-based Nutty Ventures AB have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to work in collaboration for the promotion of local startups.

Punjab Minister for Higher Education and Information Technology Raja Yassir Humayun Sarfraz presided over the ceremony held at Arfa Software Technology Park on Friday. PITB Chairman Azfar Manzoor, PITB Joint Director Hammad Bin and Head of Freelancing Wing Ahmad Islam Syan were also present.

PITB DG e-Governance Sajid Latif and Nutty Ventures AB Strategic Adviser Naimulabad signed the MoU on behalf of their respective organisations.

Under the agreement, PITB and Nutty Ventures will collaborate to provide increased exposure to Pakistani startups in Sweden, create tailor-based coaching opportunities for Pakistani startups, strengthen acceleration programmes and build opportunities for international investors and venture capital funds for Pakistani startups.

Mr Sarfraz said: “The government envisions technology as an engine of economic growth as ICT interventions are opening new frontiers every day especially for freelancers and aspiring entrepreneurs.”

“Our aim is to provide best-in-class coaching to startups so that they can compete at an international level for visibility and necessary funding for accelerating growth.”

He said the partnership would provide exciting opportunities to local startups besides strengthening existing programmes in entrepreneurship and freelancing domains.

He said they were fully committed towards inculcating the culture of tech entrepreneurship and achieving sustainable growth by grooming early stage startups to transform into commercially viable technology companies.

He said a number of initiatives aimed to empower young entrepreneurs, startups and freelancers through programmes such as Plan 9, National Freelance Training Programme, e-Rozgaar and e-Earn were running.

Mr Manzoor said Pakistani startups had made their mark in the global arena which was manifested through an increase of over 300 per cent in the funding raised by local startups during 2021.

He said entrepreneurship and freelancing programmes were not only facilitating the youth of Punjab through incubation and skills development programmes but also helping in creating the much-needed linkages with foreign investors and venture capitalists.

“It is worth mentioning that the PITB is running a range of successful incubation and freelancing programmes not only in Punjab but in other provinces as well,” he added.

The Nutty Ventures AB, which is currently running a Sweden-wide accelerator programme, has an extensive experience and network in the Swedish startup, impact and funding ecosystems.

“Since we are experiencing rapid change in global trends in the entrepreneurship ecosystem, we need to eliminate traditional hierarchies and structures which are huge bottlenecks. Nutty Ventures will leverage the power of global best practices to create meaningful impact for PITB-backed startups,” said Nutty Ventures AB founder and CEO Mehkar Sheikh.

Sweden is one of the leading countries in the world in innovation, startup activity.

According to a latest report, Stockholm currently has the highest number of tech unicorns per capita in the world after Silicon Valley.

Published in Dawn, January 1st, 2022

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