Pakistans thriving technology sector is full of potential, needs to be tapped
STAFF REPORT ISB: With a large youth population in Pakistan, innovation and entrepreneurship have emerged as viable means of dealing with the problems like political instability and week law and order. However, a field does not have to be completely novel itself for innovation to take place. By that same token, an idea can be born and take root anywhere and at any time and the country is filled with this spirit.
Close observation shows that the country has emerged as a thriving technology state full of potential and strength, which has grown by leaps and bounds during the last several years and it is innovation that is fueling this growth.
Experts say for the most part, innovation is not the creation of new commodities, but the addition of value to existing goods and services through novel means, which leads them to become more useful for consumers.
Innovation by Pakistani inventors and entrepreneurs is mostly focused around this idea of adding value to the existing products which have significantly influenced lives, not just in Pakistan, but around the globe. Pakistani entrepreneurs and innovators have risen from a situation that looks fairly bleak. According to the UNICEF statistics, Pakistan is expected to be one of the few countries where the working population will exceed the number of retirees.
The country has emerged as an IT state in the region with having about 140 million cell phone users and the people enjoy some of the cheapest service rates in the world.
Young people across the country have proven themselves to be far more successful, productive and innovative than many of their Asian and Western counterparts.
Star student Ali Moeen Nawazish from Rawalpindi has set the world record for the highest scores in GCE Advanced Levels – the British and Commonwealth equivalent of a high school diploma – with 22 As.
Since graduating, Nawazish has taken it upon himself to help the youth of Pakistan, founding companies that help provide opportunities for success to young people back home, in many different sectors such as media, IT, education and social services.
Today, Eyedeus Labs, one of the start-ups Plan9 helped off the ground, is the proud creator of several excellent technologies that have gained recognition around the world. Their debut app, Groopic, has become a smartphone photographer favorite and has been downloaded up to 500,000 times on the Android platform.
This potential has been recognized beyond Pakistans borders as well. In 2011, Google donated $250,000 to aid the setup of the P@sha Fund for Social Innovation, which helps people using technology to help society at large.
One excellent example is Naweed Syed, a researcher and scientist who works at the University of Calgarys Hotchkiss Brain Institute in Canada. Syed and his team have done ground-breaking work in connecting human brain cells to specifically designed silicon chips – work that provides new insight into the “conversation” between an electronic device and living tissue.
One more example of Pakistans entrepreneurial spirit is a pair of brothers from Lahore, Pakistans second-largest city and technology hub, who almost single-handedly created the countrys first true real estate portal.
Zeeshan Ali Khan and Imran Ali Khan started Zameen.com in 2006 from a single room. Over the course of the next eight years, they successfully led this portal to become a widely-known, trusted, established and award-winning enterprise.
Experts say that innovative countries dont necessarily need national innovation policies, although these can be good signals of intent. What they do need are sensible, forward-looking and light touch policies in a host of economic and social areas. It is time that the government to recognize this, they remarked.
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