A one-day conference on ‘Fostering Entrepreneurship through Incubation’ was arranged by NSTP (National Science and Technology Park). The purpose of the conference was to bring together international and national stakeholders from Incubators, Accelerators, Associations, Co-working spaces and Entrepreneurs on a single platform to enhance the outcome of the incubation programs in Pakistan. Special Assistant to Prime Minister (SAPM) on Youth Affairs, Shaza Fatima Khawaja, was present as the Chief Guest at the conference.

Since its inception, NSTP has been committed to simulating and nurturing innovation-led germination and growth of hi-tech entities. Continuously undertaking conferences, trainings and panel discussions, this year’s conference on ‘Fostering Entrepreneurship through Incubation’ also revolved around the role of universities in promulgating entrepreneurship. Taking place on the 14th of December, the conference highlighted the strategic role that universities must play so as to promote Entrepreneurship as a separate career path.

An important aspect of the Conference was the presences of Mr. Ben Mumby-Croft, Director of Imperial Enterprise Lab at Imperial College London and Mr. Sami Serdar, CEO Young Business Hub Turkey who talked about how both the UK and Turkey had been striving to drive innovation and helping boost entrepreneurship across the country.

While addressing the conference, the Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Youth Affairs, Shaza Fatima Khawaja, said that the greatest chunk of the Prime Minister Youth Program is the issuance of business loans to the country’s youth. It was then that she revealed that the Federal government over the span of the last nine years, had provided over Rs. 75 billion in loans to 54,000 beneficiaries who utilized it then to either establish or expand their businesses.

Pro-Rector Academics NUST Dr. Osman Hassan, Associate Dean UMT Dr. Farah Asif, Project Director NIC Mr. Parvez Abbasi and President of Islamabad Women Chamber of Commerce & Industries Ms. Rizwana Asif were the panelists for the Conference with Mr. Yaruq Nadeem as the Moderator. The panelists explored the private sector’s and academia’s roles in Pakistan’s startup and entrepreneurial culture.

During his opening remarks, Pro Rector RIC NUST, Dr Rizwan Riaz said that NUST is a highly-ranked STP university in the nation. He added that NUST has been trying its level best to foster the entrepreneurial exposure of its students, more because it is the Pakistani market that is now rapidly drawing the interest of international investors. “The inclusivity of NSTP in bringing together academia and the industry is evident from the fact that there are as many as 100+ companies housed at NSTP, which is an academia-based STP”, he added.

Mr. Parvez Abbasi contended that entrepreneurship is not something to be taught, but instead learnt and hence universities are not suitable a platform to acquire those skills. ‘90% of the graduates are stated to be unemployable by industries, which demonstrates that educational institutions cannot teach entrepreneurship.’ In response to this, Dr. Farah Arif added that colleges should begin focusing on the curriculums of entrepreneurship course rather than teaching it to the likes of a theoretical subject. While Rizwana Asif agreed with the opinion, Dr. Osman Hasan was of the viewpoint that academia and the private sector should collaborate.