Ministry of IT and Ignite’s flagship initiative National Incubation Center (NIC) will kickstart in Karachi, next month. After the establishment of NICs in Islamabad, Lahore, and Peshawar, NIC Karachi becomes the fourth incubation center that is funded by Ignite, the national technology fund (formerly known as the National ICT R&D Fund). It is soon to be followed by NIC Quetta.
The $6 million project will be jointly executed by LMKT, Habib Bank Limited, PTCL, Pakistan Poverty Alleviation Fund, Founder Institute, Invest2Innovation and will be based out of NED University of Engineering & Technology. The incubation center expands over 20,000 square feet at one of the top engineering universities of Pakistan. NIC Karachi will mentor over 40 companies yearly, providing them access to a design studio, a Fintech center, NED University’s Maker’s Lab and venture capitalists.
Over the next five years, NIC plans to facilitate over 200 budding startup companies that have the potential to create high growth businesses that are also sustainable. NIC Karachi will execute a series of programs that will comprise of boot camps and accelerators, focusing on thirteen major areas. While the incubation center is looking for startups working in areas of fintech, real estate, e-commerce, cyber security and robotics, it is also on a lookout for social innovation ventures that can increase social inclusion and use technology for good.
Ignite’s CEO, Yusuf Hussain is optimistic about the impact that will be produced by national incubators across the country. He said,
“In India, startups receive $7 billion in annual funding compared to a paltry $70 million in Pakistan, which is not even one-tenth of the former. India moved into tech much earlier and attracted foreign investors while Pakistan lagged behind because of its fight against terrorism. But now, the country is well positioned to grow. Now we want Pakistan to produce Googles, Apples, and Amazons of the world.”
NIC Karachi is setting up tough eligibility criteria to incubate startups that are not only highly competent but also have experienced a certain growth, aiming to scale up. The selected class of young entrepreneurs will get an opportunity to learn from relevant field experts and mentors and also gain access to investors.
NIC Karachi will not only focus on building new technology, services, instruments, and tools but will enable startups to find an innovative way to rebuild the infrastructure of Karachi and transform how the city & government collaborate to improve quality of life for all citizens.