Need to foster technology incubation

Gone are the days when strength of a nation was gauged with the number of weapons and size of army. The modern times development and economic stability is, of course, the offshoot of technology. The technology incubators, a variant of more traditional business incubation schemes, is the phenomena of present times as they assist technology-oriented entrepreneurs in the start-up and early development stage of their firms by providing workspace, share facilities and a range of business support services. Technology incubators represent today an increasing share of existing business incubation programmes. For instance, in US they are estimated to be one/third of the overall incubators and an increasing number of universities and technology parks have set up incubation schemes to promote technology-based entrepreneurship. Pakistan, which is still taking half-backed initiatives to enter the developed era, needs to revisit the approach towards technology as the relevant authorities are yet to fully realize the significance of this mechanism. Higher education institutions and other research and development platforms are still untapped in terms of fully offering technology incubation facilities. If any headway is made, these universities can effectively develop incubation facilities under which they can not only target their own faculty and students but also reach out to those who are nevertheless interested in the commercialisation of university research. At the same time, under this mechanism new trends of entrepreneurship can be promoted in addition to having strong and sustained interaction with the industrial sector that can also exploit certain technologies. To take an articulated step in this regard, new enterprises must have three features needed at a technology incubator – they should be technology-oriented; ii) they should have the potential to grow in a relatively short period of time and employ skilled workers; iii) they should closely involve graduates, often in applied sciences, in their management. Such incubation remains instrumental in improving the survival rate of new firms rather share more specific goals to strengthen the knowledge component of the local economy, creating an environment conducive to technology entrepreneurship, providing a nursery for commercialisation of university research, especially when higher education institutions are directly involved in the promotion and management of the incubator. Though many institutions of higher learning have started nurturing this culture, the relevant authorities, too, need to patronize as well as promote the environment of entrepreneurship in the country. Policy measures, creating appropriate frameworks, infrastructure support, and entrepreneurial training in addition to IPR facilitation are desperately needed, otherwise the things would come back to the square one.

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