KARACHI: Pakistan Telecommunication Company Limited (PTCL), Pakistan’s leading telecommunications services provider and LMKT on Saturday inaugurated National Incubation Center (NIC), Peshawar funded by the Ministry of IT&T and Ignite Fund (formerly known as National ICT R&D Fund). The launch ceremony was graced by Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi as chief guest, along with Governor Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Iqbal Zafar Jhagra, Minister IT&T Ms. Anusha Rahman, and other renowned dignitaries from the public and private sectors.
Speaking on the occasion, Prime Minister Abbasi said, “I’m extremely pleased with the growing synergy between the public and private sectors to promote youth-led entrepreneurship in the country and realize the dream of a Digital Pakistan.” He further added: “NIC Peshawar is proof of the government’s commitment of extending all kinds of support to relevant stakeholders in developing Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s technology landscape and startup ecosystem.”
A generous 12,000 sq. ft. facility in the heart of Peshawar at PTCL Training Center has been earmarked and repurposed to incubate more than 25 handpicked startups each year. NIC Peshawar will be equipped with the latest ICT infrastructure offering high-speed connectivity, seamless audio and video conferencing facilities, fully-managed IT and telecom services, among others. Incubatees will have access to comprehensive mentoring services allowing them to seek guidance and support on design thinking, business planning, financial and operational aspects related to their startups such as marketing and communication, legal services, etc. NIC Peshawar will provide the access to investors to support technology driven disruptive startups.
Industry-renowned start-up incubation curriculum developed by Founder’s Institute will be implemented for the various cohorts that are inducted as part of NIC Peshawar. In addition, specialized workshops designed in collaboration with Microsoft, IBM and other global technology leaders will be conducted throughout each session.
Minister of State for Information Technology and Telecommunication, Ms. Anusha Rahman, while expressing her satisfaction with the launch proceedings, stated, “National Incubation Center, Peshawar will usher a vibrant new era of entrepreneurship and innovation in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, enabling many aspiring tech entrepreneurs and startups in creating game-changing solutions.” She added, “Ministry of IT&T is constantly striving towards transforming Pakistan into a knowledge-based economy through various sustainable ICT initiatives.”
Yousuf Hussain, CEO, Ignite said, “A singular opportunity for Startups that seek to solve meaningful problems with the help of Academia and for Corporates that seek to transform and thrive in this age of global competition and pervasive change by partnering with and investing in Startups.”
President & CEO PTCL, Dr. Daniel Ritz, on the occasion, stated, “The National Incubation Center, Peshawar is an important milestone in the burgeoning innovation climate of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. This center is a testimony to PTCL’s promise to empower the people of Pakistan through its ICT and Digital services.”
Atif Khan, CEO LMKT said, “Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has enormous untapped talent and potential that can become a major driver in boosting Pakistan’s economy. I’m really excited about the prospect of working with inventive local entrepreneurs and startups in our pursuit for creating success stories bigger than ours.”
NIC Peshawar’s launch has been received very positively by academia, public and private sectors with significant partnerships and MoUs lined up with leading organizations and universities. Some of these collaborations include design thinking workshops by IBM, FinTech lab, BioTech & CNC lab by CECOS University and linkages with Google Business Groups.
The induction of the initial cohort of 25 startups is already underway and the first session is expected to commence by March 2018. In the following months, the NIC Peshawar team and all its partners will work closely with local bodies and universities to identify and induct top talent from KP province.