HEC Innovator Seed Fund (ISF) – Call for Applications 2022-2023
Encouraging entrepreneurship is one of the key objectives of the Higher Education Commission (HEC) Pakistan. The HEC has launched the Higher Education Development in Pakistan (HEDP) project to help in accelerating the economic engines of the country. Innovator Seed Fund (ISF) is an initiative under HEDP that aims at engaging entrepreneurs and upcoming aspirants who want to convert their business ideas into action.
Innovator Seed Fund (ISF)
ISF will provide a package of support and seed funding to early-stage startups through HEC-recognized Business Incubation Centers (BICs) at universities. The grant winners will receive up to $35,000 in seed funding, in addition, to support through BICs in the form of entrepreneurial training, legal training and support, financial education, business development service provision, and investment readiness training. Moreover, successful start-ups will be connected to a range of funding sources that can help them meet their capital needs during the scale-up phase post-program.
15 promising early-stage start-ups will be funded and provided the training and incubation services required to transform them into investable ventures through ISF, every year. As part of the strategic aims of the project, a significant proportion of the grants will be awarded to startups with female founders.
The priority sectors for ISF support include but are not limited to:
- Agriculture, Food Resources and Agri Tech
- Banking, Microfinance and FinTech
- Creative, Digital Media, Arts and Culture
- Education and EdTech
- E-commerce and Smart Retail
- Emerging Technologies
- Health Care and Health Tech
- Housing, Construction and Manufacturing
- Sustainable Development, Climate and Energy
- Transportation and Logistics
- Other sectors that have the potential for growth and impact
The lead applicant must:
- Either be a student, recent alumnus and/or faculty member/researcher of the Higher Education Institutions (public and private).
- Have endorsement from one of the HEC-established Business Incubation Centers (BICs).
- Not have received commercial sources of funding prior to applying for ISF grant.
- Have an SECP-registered business concern.
- The final awardees will have to enter into a tri-partite agreement between the Startup, the BIC and the HEC.
The ISF Program is looking to register three types of participants;
- Startups: You must be a Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP), or equivalent registrar, registered Startup without having received previous commercial sources of funding.
- Mentors: You will be an experienced/seasoned entrepreneur or business executive.
- Business Development Service Provider (BDSP): You will be an experienced professional or a business firm operating in the fields of i) Marketing and Sales management ii) HR & General Management Support iii) Technical Support iv) Marketing Research v) Transaction & Capital Advisory vi) Company Registration, Tax & Audit vii) Others.
The applications for the ISF program will be routed via the Business Incubation Centers established by the HEC in different public sector HEIs of Pakistan. The complete list of HEC Established 35 Business Incubation Centers is available in the Downloads section on HEC Website.
How to apply
- Applications can be submitted in response to a call for concept notes.
- Submissions must be made to the HEC online portal (https://rfi.hec.gov.pk/) in accordance with the guidelines provided in the call for proposals document under the “Downloads” section.
- Once the required details are filled out online, please upload all the required documents in .pdf form and submit the application before the deadline.
- The portal has been live since December 4, 2022, and will be accepting Concept Notes till January 6, 2023, at 11:59 pm. Note: Applications not endorsed by the Business Incubation Center by the given deadline will not be considered for a further competitive process.
Budgets for ISF awards will be up to $35,000 with a project duration of 1 year (depending upon the project modalities and execution plan).
You can access all the relevant training materials, concept documents, and evaluation rubric in the section on the website:
The ISF Call for Concept Notes 2022-23 is NOW OPEN.
The deadline to submit your concept notes is January 6, 2023, 11:59 pm.
For submission of applications please visit: https://rfi.hec.gov.pk/
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