ISLAMABAD: The Higher Education Commission (HEC), Pakistan and Hult Prize Foundation, an international entity empowering youth to solve the world’s most pressing issues through social entrepreneurship, have expressed a desire to jointly work for promotion of entrepreneurship in Pakistan. In this connection, the two sides held a virtual meeting to discuss potential of bilateral collaboration for strengthen a startup culture in the country. They agreed to formally sign a Letter of Intent and extend support to the Pakistani youth and entrepreneurs.
Chairman HEC Dr. Mukhtar Ahmed addressed the participants and shed light on the HEC efforts and initiatives to support academia-industry linkages and finance the Pakistani youth in their entrepreneurial endeavours. He assured that HEC will extend all-out support to Hult Prize Foundation in its intent to exploit the potential of Pakistani youth. Director Research and Innovation Division, HEC, Noshaba Awais said that Pakistan’s population comprises over 60% of youth and HEC is committed to utilizing the youth bulge in supporting the country’s economy. Promoting entrepreneurship is the major step forward towards utilizing the youth bulge, she affirmed.
She highlighted HEC programmes, including establishment of Offices of Research, Innovation and Commercialization (ORICs), establishment of Business Incubation Centres (BICs), and Innovator Seed Fund (ISF), meant to develop a startup ecosystem in Pakistan. She said Pakistani higher education institutions have 38 BICs which have so far incubated more than 800 startups. “This is the right time to promote collaboration with Hult Prize,” she noted.
Sharing the objectives of Hult Prize Foundation, Senior Director of Programs at the Hult Prize Mr. Hamdi Ben Elmi and Director of Human Resource at the Hult Prize Ms. Carla Osnaya said that the Foundation has been engaged in promoting social entrepreneurship and empowerment of youth across a large number of countries. They said that Hult Prize challenges young people to solve the world’s most pressing issues through Social Enterprise and, every year, one team receives $1M USD in funding to make their idea a reality.
They underlined that the Foundation has a great impact in Pakistan as it has been engaged with over 100 universities, more than 9000 student entrepreneurs, 10,000+ student volunteers and over 1000 experts. Muhammad Osama from Bfreeze, a Pakistani company which won Hult Prize in 2020, expressed his views about the role of Hult Prize Foundation in the success of his company’s products.