LACK OF innovative spirit in both the public sector and private enterprises is not the only factor behind the insufficient resources or ill-conceived policies, the unsupportive culture is equally responsible for this negative trend. No doubt, growth in per capita income can be achieved only through improved productivity, which comes by dint of knowledge accumulation, innovation, and improvement in efficiency and prudent risk-taking. But at this stage, it is a point of high regret that Pakistan does not keep the required technological and research bedrock thus getting exposed to a series of advantages in various sectors. As most of the economic activities in Pakistan take place in traditional non-hi-tech quarters, a policy to spread technologically-induced transformations would gradually vary the framework and the relative weight of different sectors of economy. University, research centres and public and private endowments should tie up to rewarding practical research, patent filing and publications in foreign journals. Experts argue that university program must be toned to industry, market-driven and based on demand for skills in addition to making research papers and internships as part of the graduation requirements. There is no iota of doubt that innovation has emerged as a driving force behind national economic growth and competitiveness, and more competitive economies seek more innovative solutions to their problems. The process of innovation is about removing bottlenecks. At this stage, the core of innovation policies must be to ensure persistence of innovation policies in terms of a thorough legislation that curbs interference from official authorities. Effective and efficient system for licensing and intellectual property rights protection must be backed by a credible, swift and judicial process. Recognition awards for companies and individuals should be given for designing and delivering novel, innovative products and processes. Commercialization of research output is the key to the development of an innovation culture in Pakistan. Upgradation of the skill levels of the work force would mean that Pakistan has major cost advantages which would result in attracting more foreign investment. There is a yawning need to understand the implications of innovation in a country like Pakistan and also examine how its surge may impact the wider economy and society. At the crossroads of the progress, the government of Pakistan needs to de-couple implementation of knowledge-driven innovation-based policy from the rest of its bureaucratic apparatus. It also needs to form a flexible, innovation-centric, entrepreneur-led, quasi-public autonomous commission to orchestrate, implement and gauge the innovation strategy. NIA, with private funding, could shield start-ups and pilot projects from bureaucratic, monopolistic and corporatist death-traps and should be mandated to integrate the countrys research centres with market-oriented and commercially feasible cohesive research.
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