The City of Austin and Information Technology University (ITU) in Lahore, Pakistan have signed a two year agreement for the exchange of entrepreneurs between Pakistan and Austin, USA.
Called “ATX+PAK”, this is a one of a kind partnership between the Punjab-based ITU and Austin’s Economic Development program. ITU will be selecting the entrepreneurs from their highly competitive Plan9 and PlanX entrepreneurship programs. The exchange was initially visualized by Alicia Dean, the Senior Public Information Officer at City of Austin, who happened to visit Pakistan in 2013 when incubators and accelerator programs were at the infant stages.
“I happened to meet Mindstorm Studio’s Babar Ahmed and Conrad Lab’s Abbas Yousafzai during a holiday outing at Zacky Farm outside Lahore,” said Alicia about her experience in Pakistan. “They mentioned the amazing entrepreneurial talent in Pakistan, how the startup scene was really emerging, and how great it would be if there were more formalized avenues to connect the Austin Startup community to the emerging communities in Pakistan.”
She went on to say,
“The seed they planted stuck with me. Over the next couple of years, I developed the program outline and proposal and was fortunate enough to receive a grant from the U.S. Embassy! We’re thrilled to have the Greater Austin Asian Chamber of Commerce, and ITU as our partners who will be carrying out the day to day activities of the program.”
The program has been carefully crafted and has been put into action by years of planning to help entrepreneurs from Pakistan and US benefit the most. It will achieve several goals including,
- Introducing Austin entrepreneurs to creative talent, production, and potential growth opportunities in Pakistan.
- Providing formalized opportunities for Pakistani Start-ups to introduce their company to potential U.S. investors, Venture Capitalists, Private Equity firms & mentors to grow their businesses domestically and internationally.
- Providing a platform for entrepreneurs & start-up incubators/accelerators in Austin & Pakistan to collaborate on projects to strengthen and enhance the entrepreneurial ecosystems in their respective communities.
- Provide Austin-based U.S. investors and venture capitalists unique opportunities to expand into untapped markets by funding seed stage or growth stage investment in Pakistani businesses.
- Provide Austin Startups a platform to explore expansion opportunities in Pakistan in collaboration with Pakistani entrepreneurs.
Its launch program will also include a tour of Pakistan’s growing tech and innovation hubs for Central Texas investors in the upcoming fall along with a Creative Collaboration Summit in Austin in 2017 to explore mutual investment & collaboration opportunities in Pakistan and Austin’s innovation and startup communities. Participants will also have the opportunity to participate in deep-dive discussion on topics related to establishing economic partnerships in the tech, creative (gaming software, film, fashion design), and medical sectors. Finally, there will also be a Startup Showcase event at the end to act as the closing note for the program.
This exchange program aims to empower the emerging Pakistani startup founders in meeting with entrepreneurs, mentors, investors at Austin. In the meanwhile, startups looking to scale their ventures out of Pakistan will also be able to greatly benefit from this opportunity.