A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signing ceremony between the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Authority (SMEDA), Higher Education Commission (HEC), and five Universities for the National Idea Lab initiative pilot phase was held at HEC Secretariat.
The universities include the National University of Sciences and Technology (NUST) Islamabad, National Textile University (NTU) Faisalabad, Institute of Management Sciences (IMS) Peshawar, NED University of Engineering and Technology (NEDUET) Karachi, and Balochistan University of IT, Engineering and Management Sciences (BUITEMS) Quetta. Mr Hashim Raza, CEO SMEDA, Dr Shaista Sohail, Executive Director HEC, and Vice-Chancellors of the respective Universities signed the MoU agreement.
The MoU is aimed to execute the National Idea Lab initiative which has been designed for enhanced cooperation in promoting entrepreneurship, innovation, and incubation across the Universities of Pakistan. The National Idea Lab will develop a co-creative and supportive environment – which will encourage students’ entrepreneurial intent and at the same time support open innovation approach in collaboration between SMEs and universities.
Through NIL, the students and researchers will get the opportunity to develop and commercialize their ideas through entrepreneurship or in collaboration with existing SMEs. During this process, student teams will have the opportunity to be mentored, guided, and advised through the NIL platform.
In her remarks, Dr Shaista Sohail said that the National Idea Lab initiative will further strengthen the Innovation and Commercialization efforts of HEC, and will act as a platform for the youth of Pakistan especially the final year students and fresh graduates. They will be provided with an opportunity to convert their innovative ideas into scalable businesses and contribute actively to the socio-economic development of Pakistan.
Mr Hashim Raza reiterated the need for collaborative efforts to promote and upscale the development of the SME sector in Pakistan by providing young and fresh talent with mentoring and capacity building. He said that there is much potential in the technology, agriculture, and tourism sectors in Pakistan that can lead to increased foreign direct investment in the country through innovative SMEs. The Vice Chancellors of the partnering HEIs showed their continued commitment to the NIL initiative and hoped that this initiative will further the innovation and commercialization ecosystem in Pakistan.