ISLAMABAD: The Higher Education Commission (HEC) on Thursday announced that 15 start-ups had won grants of up to $35,000 each in a pitching competition.

The HEC said its pitching competition was organised under the Innovator Seed Fund (ISF) and 26 entrepreneurial teams, shortlisted out of 186 applicants, participated in it.

The grant winning start-ups include ezGeyser, mimAR Studios, Funkshan Tech and truID Technologies from National University of Sciences and Technology (Nust); Savvy Engineers and Arm Rehab Technologies from International Islamic University Islamabad (IIUI); Averos Life Sciences from Institute of Management Sciences, Peshawar; Wonder Women from University of the Punjab; Orko, Boltay Huroof and Porter Pakistan from NED University of Engineering and Technology (UET) Karachi; VisionRD and Oxbridge Innovative Solutions from Bahria University Islamabad; 110 Innovate from IBA Sukkur, and Shahruh Technologies from UET Lahore.

HEC Chairman Dr Mukhtar Ahmed was chief guest at the award distribution ceremony alongside acting WB country director Gailius J. Draugelis, HEC Executive Director Dr Shaista Sohail, vice chancellors and members of corporate bodies and others.

In his remarks, the HEC chairman said Pakistan’s start-ups saw a record-breaking year of fund-raising in 2021 with over $350 million in funding. He said with collective and persistent efforts, this fledgling ecosystem can flourish further and safeguard Pakistani entrepreneurs through regulatory, networking and funding opportunities.

He stated that HEC, in collaboration with partners like WB, will continue creating a good working environment for youth as Pakistani youth had no dearth of potential. He emphasised the need for introducing and materialising impactful research and entrepreneurial ideas to come up with out-of-the-box solutions to national problems. “The important thing for institutions to do is to ensure availability of best-possible facilities for youth and create a quality research ecosystem,” he added.

The chairman added that the youth had multiple opportunities under various initiatives like Prime Minister’s Youth Programme while BICs were playing a very imperative role in exploiting the capabilities of young scholars, researchers and entrepreneurs. “Amidst the ample facilities and opportunities for talented Pakistani youth, he said, there was a need for doing more as there was still a long way to go.

Mr Gailius J. Draugelis expressed satisfaction with HEC-WB partnership and hoped that the HEDP initiatives will support quality tertiary education in Pakistan while generating revenue streams and triggering socioeconomic growth.

He appreciated the role of BICs in helping execute the business ideas introduced by university teams. He said the HEC-WB collaborations aimed at promoting quality and relevant research and encouraging academia-industry linkages.

During the pitching ceremony earlier, Dr Shaista Sohail said Pakistan currently had the largest number of young people ever in its history, which made it one of the youngest countries in the world.

Published in Dawn, November 25th, 2022

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