By Fehmeen Anwar

Over the past decade, stunning advances in the field of technology has contributed immensely to the development of various nations. We are living in a remarkable age where role of a technologically educated population, in promoting social and economic development, has long been recognized. New technologies like robotics, artificial intelligence, cloud computing, data science and numerous others are fast changing the way developed economies are progressing.

However, technologically innovating economies require an interconnected set of market and nonmarket institutions to make the innovation process work effectively, and for this reason, governments need to play their part if they wish to foster highly innovative economic system. Keeping this in mind, HEC, an institution of government of Pakistan, has committed itself in bringing transformational reforms in Pakistan through universities by making them engines of innovation.

The establishment of “Technology Development Fund”, by HEC, coincides with their mission which is “to facilitate institutions of higher learning to serve as engines for socio-economic development of Pakistan”. This initiative aims to support researchers to materialize their ideas and research into products and services in an attempt to make Pakistan become a knowledge economy. The goal is to support innovative ideas of researchers for prototype development, initial product development, patent filing, and marketing and licensing of new products so as to impact the country’s economy through new and emerging technologies.

Higher Education Commission (HEC) will get Technology Development Funds from the federal government worth of PKR 2.94 billion under which 200 projects would be approved and funded in the next five years. Each approved project will receive a grant of 14 million rupees. Any researcher having an idea or having done initial research for product development is eligible to apply for this grant. The research in the following specified areas is required:

  • Information and Technology: e-solutions for Government, Health, Textile, and Agriculture
  • Micro-electronics
  • Biotechnology
  • Material Sciences
  • Telecommunication
  • Robotics

The project duration will not exceed 2 years and all projects have to be created in a joint academia-industry partnership. This will benefit both academia and the industries in a huge way by providing them with an opportunity to develop their products through the use of this fund as finding resources to turn an idea into a reality is a very tiresome process.

Up till now, Higher Education Commission (HEC), Pakistan has awarded 31 projects under Technology Development Fund to PhD scholars. The selected projects include nine projects in the field of Information Technology, eight projects in Food Science and Technology, and seven projects in Agriculture Engineering among others. University of Agriculture Faisalabad has won 10 projects, while National University of Sciences and Technology, Islamabad stood second by winning five projects.

This is a great step, taken by HEC, which will not only build strong linkages between knowledge and production platforms but will also enable Pakistan to realize its dream of joining 25 leading economies of the world by 2025.

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Muzammil Kamran

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