Wednesday, February 22, 2023

Pakistan: Startups Incubated at Karachi's NED University Got the Highest Funding in 2022

Karachi-based start-ups raised $236.7 million in 2022, accounting for two-thirds of Pakistan's total startup funding and almost double the previous year, according to Data Darbar.  Karachi, Pakistan's largest city, is followed by Lahore with $69.2 million and Islamabad with $41.6 million. Nationally, the total funds raised by startups have been declining after hitting the peak of $173 million in Q1/2022. 

City-wise Startup Funding of Pakistani Startups. Source: Data Darbar via FDI Intelligence

National Incubation Center, located at Karachi's NED University of Engineering and Technology (NEDUET), has incubated more than 250 start-ups so far.  These include ride-hailing app Bykea and London-based proptech platform Gridizen. Kamran Mahmood, the CEO of Gridizen, who recently returned to Pakistan to join NIC Karachi, says he has found it even easier to meet decision makers at large companies in Pakistan than the UK, according to a report in FDI Intelligence“Karachi really offers the best chance for Pakistan to catch up with other start-up ecosystems,” says Rabeel Warraich, the founder and CEO of Sarmayacar, a Pakistani early stage VC fund set up in 2018. 

Since the start of 2018, the total VC funding in Pakistan soared more than 20-fold to reach an all-time high of $333m in 2022, according to Magnitt, an emerging market data platform. Most of the funding has gone to e-commerce and fintech start-ups, including Karachi-based online marketplace Bazaar Technologies, salary advance app Abhi and Lahore-based e-commerce platform Jugnu.

NIC Karachi is funded by Ignite, the country's national technology fund, and operated by LMKT, a private tech company which runs two other NICs in the cities of Hyderabad and Peshawar.  “The level of funding and support has improved a lot in recent years,” Sana Shah, the program manager at the National Incubation Center (NIC) in Pakistan's most populous city Karachi,  told FDI Intelligence. It is one of eight public-private tech innovation hubs established across Pakistan since 2016.  
Startup Funding Trend in Pakistan. Source: Data Darbar via FDI Intelligence

Across Pakistan, the total funds raised by startups have been declining since hitting the peak of $173 million in Q1/2022.  Start-ups raised just over $15m in Q4/22, the lowest figure since the first quarter of 2020 and 79% lower than the same period a year earlier, according to Data Darbar, which tracks the Pakistani start-up scene. This downward trend is at least partly due to Pakistan's current economic crisis. It also reflects a global decline in VC investments in startups. 

Related Links:

NED Alum Raises $190 Million to Challenge ARM's Dominance

Pakistan Broadband Subscriptions Pass 100 Million

NED University Ranked Among World's Top 200 For Impact

Pakistan's Computer Services Exports Jump 26% Amid Coronavirus Lockdown

Pakistan Gig Economy Among World's Fastest Growing

NED Alum Sells Silicon Valley Company For $7.5 Billion

Pakistan's Demographic Dividend

Over a Million Pakistani University Students Enrolled in STEM Education

State Bank Targets Fully Digital Economy in Pakistan

NED University Alum Raises $100 Million For His Silicon Valley Fintech Startup

Digital Pakistan: Broadband Penetration Reaches 90% of 15+ Population

E-Commerce in Pakistan

2021: A Banner Year For Pakistani Tech Startups

NED Alum's AI Startup Startup Named Most Innovative at RSA Conference

Karachi-Born NED Alum Leads Mercedes' Entry into Electric Vehicle Market

AI Research Funded by NED Alum at His Alma Mater

Riaz Haq's Youtube Channel


Riaz Haq said...

Ranking of countries by number of data centers

1. USA 1851
2. UK 266
3. Germany 229
4. Canada 179
5. France 163
6. India 159
7. Australia 134
8. The Netherlands 122
9. China 87
10. Italy 86
11. Switzerland 79
12. Brazil 73
13. Spain 72
14. Turkey 68
15. Hong Kong 61
16. Sweden 60
17. Russia 59
18. Japan 54
19. Indonesia 54
20. Romania 46
21. New Zealand 45
22. Singapore 41
23. Belgium 40
24. Poland 40
25. Norway 36
26. Ukraine 34
27. Malaysia 33
28. Denmark 32
29. Portugal 32
30. South Africa 31
31. Bulgaria 29
32. Finland 24
33. Czech Republic 24
34. Iran 23
35. Saudi Arabia 22
36. Thailand 22
37. Pakistan 21
38. South Korea 20
39. Vietnam 19
40. Greece 18
41. Latvia 18
42. Israel 17
43. Cyprus 16
44. Argentina 15
44. Egypt 14
45. Mexico 14
46. Slovakia 14
47. Estonia 13
48. Lithuania 12
49. Mauritius 10
50. Taiwan 10
51. Iceland 9
52. Hungary 9
53. Kenya 9
54. UAE 9
55. Malta 8
56. Venezuela 7
57. Uruguay 7
58. Jordan 6
59. Nepal 6
60. Cambodia 5
61. Ghana 5
62. Gibraltar 5
63. Macedonia 5
64. Morocco 5
65. Bangladesh 4

Rest of the list has less than 4 data centers each

Ahmed said...

Dear Sir

Thanks for sharing such useful data about data centers .

Mashallah it is good to see that Pakistan has more data centers than many other countries but it has less data centers than India .

Pakistan has more data centers than even Isreal as mentioned in this list which you shared . But can Pakistan be compared with Isreal?

Isreal is way ahead in research and development of IT , Science and Technology . Even some universities of Western countries consider Isreal as their bench mark in R & D.

Ahmed said...

Dear Sir

If you see from the perspective of quantity than UAE has less data centers than Pakistan but as far as I know or remember in the index of global innovation , UAE is ranked higher than Pakistan .

Ahmed said...

Dear Sir

If you see from perspective of quantity than Pakistan has much more universities than Isreal . But how many of these Universities of Pakistan are listed in the top 300 universities of the world in QS ranking ?


Ahmed said...

Dear Sir

No doubt quantity does matter , more their will be companies with data centers in Pakistan , the better it will be as the IT students who graduate from universities of Pakistan will get a chance to work in them as a trainee or internee .Sir I think the universities in Pakistan must make an agreement with different companies of Pakistan which have their own data centers and according to that agreement , all the IT students who are studied by in Universities of Pakistan must be given chance to work in these data centers as part time students .

Sir what do you think ?


Riaz Haq said...

Ahmed: "If you see from perspective of quantity than Pakistan has much more universities than Isreal"

There's no comparison of Israel with Pakistan.

Israel is a tiny country with population of just 9 million. Pakistan, on the other hand, is a the world's 5th most populous country with a population of 230 million.

Israel is a western colonial outpost in the Middle East. It would be irrelevant if it wasn't for the unqualified western support. It's an Apartheid state created and propped up by the West.

Riaz Haq said...

Ahmed: "all the IT students who are studied by in Universities of Pakistan must be given chance to work in these data centers as part time students"

Data centers in Pakistan are run by Pakistani engineers working for various Internet Service Providers in the country.

Ahmed said...

Without the support of western countries ? Dear Sir when Isreal was created , out of 100% of the land of Isreal , 40% of the land of Isreal was barren ( unproductive ) . Their was no lakes or rivers in Isreal . Do you know how much Jews have struggled to develope Isreal?

All the Jewish agriculturalists ,Scientists and researchers came to Isreal and worked to build up the country .

The same 40% of the land of Isreal which was barren is now the most productive land since their agriculturalists have transformed their barren land into agricultural lands and now Isreali agricultural lands produce lot of fruits and vegetables and they even export those agricultural products to other countries .

Who introduced the concept of fish farming ? Do people in Pakistan even know what is fish farming ?

Who invented the technology of drip irrigation ?

Isreal was a country which has huge scarcity of water but their engineers and scientists worked so hard that now Isreal doesn’t only have water in surplus but it also exports water to other countries .

Sir out of 100% of the water which is used in Isreal ,80% of the water is recycled for the use of their own people . Even in western countries like America , UK and Australia , this much water is not recycled .

These Isrealis have invented such technologies which are not just used locally but they have global impact .


Ahmed said...

Dear Sir

Pls don’t mind but Arab countries have oil and gas under their land and they have already taken it out with the help of western countries . Can you pls tell me where do they spend their wealth ? Except for spending the wealth on 5 star hotels and luxury apartments , where else do they spend their wealth ?Most of their wealth which they earn is vy exporting oil and gas to other countries .

Ahmed said...

Dear Sir

Pls check this :

Israel’s startup ecosystem raised record amounts of funding and produced 19 IPOs in 2020, despite the pandemic. Now tech companies across industries are poised for an even better year, according to more than a dozen investors we talked to in the country.

Ahmed said...

Dear Sir

Pls I would deeply appreciate and achieve peace of heart if you and other Pakistani IT professionals working in America start having meetings and conferences about setting up relationship between OPEN AI , and the universities of Pakistan .

If the IT and engineering students from the universities of Pakistan get a chance to connect with OPEN AI and interact with their researchers and computer scientists , so pls imagine how much these Pakistani students can benefit .

Pls Sir kindly do something about it .


Ahmed said...

Dear Sir

Open AI is a purely research based center or lab in California where computer scientists , computer engineers and researchers are doing research on artificial intelligence and their purpose is to discover how AI could be beneficial for human beings in the future .

Just imagine Sir inshallah when IT and engineering students from the universities of Pakistan get a chance to connect with the researchers and computer scientists working in OPEN AI, how much exposure and awareness about the working knowledge of AI they will gain ?

This will inshallah put the IT and engineering students of Pakistan on the line of research and development and this will greatly help the students of Pakistan to understand the true potential and capabilities of AI and how they can use AI to build , design and develope systems that have decision making power .

Also with the help of AI , students can make automotive systems .

Ahmed said...

Dear Sir

These days computer scientists and researchers are working on machines and systems which could actually outperform human beings in intelligence . Although it seems almost impossible but according to them, the machines have more capabilities and potential to have intelligence than normally human beings have .

The biological system in the brains of human beings do have potential and capabilities to perform calculations and solve problems but according to these computer scientists and researchers , the machines can outperform human beings in certain areas and domains when it comes to intelligence and decision making .

Sir how far do you agree with this ?


Ahmed said...

Dear Sir

Thanks for sharing this post , sir how many of these data centers in Pakistan are based on cloud ?

Sir I have another important question , as you know that their are collections of servers , switches and routers within the data center which I think are in the form of clusters ( pls correct me if I am wrong ). Sir as you mentioned in your last posts that according to Moores Law, if we add more transistors to a micro processing chip , the better it’s performance and speed will be .

Sir let’s suppose if we add many transistors to a specific computer chip , it’s performance will increase right ? It will perform fast but as much fast it will perform , it will consume more electricity and the more electricity it will use or consume , the excessive heat the micro processing chip will generate . Sir if we have many servers in a data center and each server having its own micro processing chip if they perform at high speed , so how much electricity will be consumed by each micro processor of the server and how much excessive heat each server will generate . Don’t you think that data centers will be filled with over heating ?

Sir what could possibly be the solution to this problem of over heating ?

I hope my questions are clear


Ahmed said...

Dear Sir

Their is a company by the name “ REMOTE BASE” and as far as I remember it is an IT company based in Silicon Valley and it’s founder I think is a Pakistani . He actually hires IT students and engineering students from Pakistan and provides them IT related jobs which are based in Silicon Valley .

It allows Pakistani IT students IT engineering and graduates of Pakistani Universities to work in IT firms of Silicon Valley over internet using Remote Desktop applications .


Ahmed said...

Dear Sir

Pls check these links about the company “ REMOTE BASE”.


Riaz Haq said...

Pakistani fintech startup Trukkr raises $6.4 mln, gets lending licence | Reuters

KARACHI, Pakistan, March 7 (Reuters) - Trukkr, a fintech platform for Pakistan’s trucking industry, said on Tuesday it had raised $6.4 million in a funding round and also received a non-banking financial company (NBFC) licence.

Trukkr offers Pakistan’s small- and medium-sized trucking companies a transport management system and supply chain solutions, and is unique in providing fintech to digitise the largely unbanked and undocumented industry.

The seed funding round was led by U.S. based Accion Venture Lab and London based Sturgeon Capital. Haitou Global, Al Zayani Venture Capital and investor Peter Findley also participated in the round, Trukkr said in a statement.

The company's business model is similar to Kargo in Indonesia, Solvento in Mexico and Kobo 360 in Africa, but has been adapted to the market in Pakistan.

Trukkr said less than 5% of trucking companies using its platform have access to financial services, often having to wait up to 90 days for payments and leaving them unable to cover expenses such as fuel, tolls and truck maintenance.

Sheryar Bawany, Trukkr CEO and co-founder, told Reuters that it was looking to launch financial products at a "reasonable risk adjusted spread" to the benchmark Karachi Interbank Offered Rate (KIBOR).

Co-founder Mishal Adamjee said there are some 20,000 drivers on Trukkr's platform, servicing 100 of the biggest companies in the country including Shan Foods, Artistic Milliners, International Industries Limited and Lucky Cement.

Adamjee told Reuters that Pakistan's $35 billion a year trucking industry is growing at 10% annually despite limited rail and water freight infrastructure.

Investor Accion Venture Lab said the Covid pandemic had shown how much the world relied on global supply chains.

"We want to bet on a company striving to tackle inefficiencies in a market filled with opportunities," it said in the statement.

According to Pakistan’s Board of Investment, projected demand for freight transport will double by 2025 and increase six-fold by 2050 to 600 billion freight tonnes-kilometre, particularly as the China Pakistan Economic Corridor kicks in.

Other freight marketplace startups in Pakistan include Truck It In, BridgeLinx and Freightix.

Riaz Haq said...

SVB collapse: Indian startups should resist pressure from large investors to domicile outside, says Mohandas Pai

He advised founders of India-centric startups "to be careful" and "not get carried away" by investors who force companies they fund, to domicile in the US and open bank accounts there as well, according to a PTI report.


Union IT minister to meet Indian startups amid concerns over ..

Read more at:

On Friday, US regulators pulled the plug on SVB - a key lender to US startups since the 1980s - after a run on deposits made it no longer tenable for the medium-sized bank to stay afloat on its own.
SVB has exposure to over 20 startups in India and began investing here in 2003.
According to startup research advisory Tracxn, SVB has invested in several Indian firms, including Paytm, Carwale, Bluestone, Shaadi and Sarva. In October last year, SVB had invested $150 million in contract intelligence company Icertis.
Following the collapse, startup founders and investors in Mumbai exchanged rumors about which fledgling company might be the first to fall, Bloomberg reported.
India has one of the world's biggest startup markets, with many clocking multi-billion-dollar valuations in recent years and getting the backing of foreign investors who have made bold bets on digital and other tech businesses.
SVB's failure, the biggest in the US since the 2008 financial crisis, has roiled global markets, hit banking stocks and is now unsettling Indian entrepreneurs.
Two partners at an Indian venture capital fund and one lender to Indian start-ups told Reuters that they are running checks with portfolio companies on any SVB exposure and if so, whether it is a significant part of their total bank balance.
An Indian founder told Bloomberg News he failed to retrieve company funds and is now left only with working capital. Another was scurrying to stop and reroute customer payments into his company’s SVB account, while also setting up new arrangements for salary payments. Three founders and a startup investor said they hadn’t slept in 48 hours.

Riaz Haq said...

Tech Destination Pakistan: Showcasing IT Prowess at LEAP 2023 in Saudi Arabia

Despite the prevailing economic crunch and challenges put forward by the uncertain situation, Pakistan’s IT sector made waves with its notable presence at LEAP 23 in Riyadh under the banner of ‘TechDestination Pakistan’.

This was very encouraging from an economic and business opportunities standpoint. PSEB’s renewed approach to branding Pakistan as a lucrative tech destination and enhancing its international presence has been exemplary.

With success at LEAP, Pakistan has proven that it is ready to take on the world and is open for business.

LEAP is an unparalleled tech event that brings together the brightest minds in the industry from across the globe, providing a dynamic platform for tech innovators, industry leaders, and top experts to collaborate, explore new innovations, establish valuable partnerships, and engage with influential mentors and investors.

The convention generated over $9 billion in business and was attended by over 172,000 individuals, including global tech leaders, IT professionals, speakers, tech gurus, and investors, making it the fastest-growing tech event in the world.

The Pakistan Pavilion, organized by the Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP) and the Pakistan Software Export Board (PSEB), featured 18 top IT/ITeS companies from various verticals

These included 10 start-ups showcasing cutting-edge solutions in areas such as AI, IoT, blockchain & crypto, robotics, 3D printing, space and satellites, biotech, quantum, fintech, 5G, open source, unmanned systems, and data services.

The pavilion was launched by His Excellency Ambassador Ameer Khurram Rathore, and six MoUs were signed between Pakistani IT companies and international companies.

Pakistani startup, SnapRetail, made it to the final round of the Rocket Fuel Startup Pitch competition, demonstrating the true potential and innovation capabilities of Pakistan’s IT industry.

PSEB’s Managing Director, Mr. Junaid Imam, encouraged Pakistani IT companies to participate in future LEAP events, leveraging it as a platform for networking and showcasing their presence in the IT sector.

Additionally, PSEB Director Business Development and Partnerships, Mr. Shahbaz Hameed, shared the organization’s ambitious vision of positioning Pakistan as a leading tech destination and striving to enhance Pakistan’s brand image internationally.

PSEB provided great assistance to the IT industry at LEAP, including organizing B2B sessions with prominent Saudi Companies to promote business expansion and foster new partnerships.

The success of LEAP Riyadh has created a ripple effect of businesses and investments for Pakistani IT companies, and they look forward to their participation in the upcoming editions.

PASHA, the independent IT association, assisted PSEB in yielding maximum mileage from the LEAP exhibition.

Pakistan sees this as a perfectly timed opportunity to showcase its IT/ITeS companies on an international trade platform and expand business in the Middle East market, especially in Saudi Arabia, which is undergoing transformation by implementing its Vision 2030.

Saudi Arabia’s economy is the largest in the Middle East and among the top twenty economies in the world, with a significant share of the tech industry.

Despite facing challenges, Pakistan has managed to make a mark in the tech industry with its participation in this mega event.

Riaz Haq said...

#WorldBank Group's #IFC mulls $10 million investment in Fatima Gobi Ventures in #Pakistan. #VentureCapital #startups #technology

Ahmed said...

Dear Sir

Thanks for sharing this article , it’s mashallah very good and pleasing to see how Pakistani IT companies are finally taking part in international events but Sir I also have an idea . Inorder to be innovative and creative , IT students and engineering students need access to latest knowledge about IT and technology and this knowledge results from research and development . I think if students of Pakistani universities who want to setup their tech startups are linked with researchers and professors in the universities of America , Canada , Australia and England then inshallah this will be a great learning experience for them .


Ahmed said...

Dear Sir

Many IT staff and students in Pakistan as far as I know are not really aware of the internal structuring of cloud computing and how cloud computing environment is designed . What are the foundations of cloud computing and how important it is .


Ahmed said...

Dear Sir

As far as I know some of these IT of tech based companies in Pakistan which are providing solutions based on AI are not exactly working on AI . They are focusing more on ML( Machine Learning ) and DL( Deep Learning ).

Ahmed said...

Dear Sir

As far as I know many IT professionals and IT companies in Pakistan are not really aware of the fact that AI( Artificial Intelligence ) is still at its initial stages . In other words it is at its infant stage, it will take many years for AI to become mature , powerful and advance .

Many IT professionals in Pakistan think that they are actually working on AI , they are not exactly working on AI but they are working on DL and ML which are parts of AI .

Deep Learning ( DL) is a type of Machine Learning ( ML) and Machine Learning is a part of Artificial Intelligence.

Ahmed said...

Dear Sir

When we say that AI is at its initial stage we mean that AI has not reached that level which the computer scientists and AI researchers expect it to reach . Actually AI researchers and computer scientists are working on this project and they are trying their best to make AI a General AI . At the moment AI is under the development and evolution stage and if it is possible a machine which is based on AI technology can only make the machine better or equal to human being in a specific domain .

Riaz Haq said...

US investment coming to Pakistan more and more every year, says US Ambassador Blome

US Ambas­sador Donald Blome has said that the US is Pakistan’s largest export market, and the US investment is seen coming to Pakistan more and more every year.

He was speaking at the US-Pakistan Innovation Expo in Islamabad that showcased the success stories of US government-sponsored Pakistani startups.


Senior Adviser for the Asia Foundation Pakistan Haris Qayyum expressed appreciation for the ongoing collaboration with the US embassy and National Incubation Centre to highlight success of Pakistani startups.

He said the US-Pakistan Innovation Expo was an endorsement of Pakistan’s dynamic tech entrepreneurs. It exemplifies Pakistan-US bilateral trade, foreign direct investment and technological innovation.

“The Asia Foundation is committed to collaborative efforts supporting Pakistan’s tech ecosystem, as we continue. The Asia Foundation is honoured to partner on initiatives that value entrepreneurship and innovation. It is our goal to support Pakistan’s sustainable development and inclusive growth,” he said.

The expo featured a speaker session for venture capitalists and angel investors led by an American expert. Business leaders and investors from Pakistan, the Middle East and the United States attended the event and discussed opportunities and challenges in the Pakistani startup ecosystem.

Project Director at the National Incubation Centre Parvez Abbasi said he was thrilled to see the US-Pakistan Innovation Expo come to fruition.

He said the event was a demonstration of the power of collaboration between the two nations and the endless possibilities “that arise when we combine our talents and resources”.

The delegates at the expo showed great enthusiasm for the event and expressed confidence that it would encourage further investment opportunities and potential trade partnerships between the US and Pakistan.

Ahmed said...

Dear Sir

Mashallah congradulations on this great news which you just shared with me and happy Ramazan Mubarak to all Pakistanis and Muslims who live in America .

Ahmed said...

Dear Sir

Thank you for sharing such useful news about how US government sponsored startups in Pakistan have prospered and gained success but Sir do you really think it is only money which Pakistani based startup needs ?

I think what is more important is that all these technology based and IT based startups in Pakistan must be linked with research and development centers of the universities of Canada , Australia , America and England. Their must be an interaction between teachers and professors of the universities of America and the IT and engineering students of the universities of Pakistan .

Riaz Haq said...

Daftarkhwan partners with PAF to launch Daftarkhwan Alpha in Islamabad, Pakistan

Daftarkhwan is launching its newest coworking space- Alpha, in the National Aerospace Science and Technology Park (NASTP), in partnership with Aviation City Pakistan, a project spearheaded by the Pakistan Air Force.

Alpha opened its doors this December, 2022- Situated in the Old Islamabad International Airport, Alpha provides a unique chance for enterprising tech companies to engage with the innovation ecosystem focused on Aerospace, IT and Cyber Tech domains.

Adjacent to Alpha, NASTP also boasts Pakistan’s very first National Incubation Centre with an aerospace vertical and a specialized focus on deep tech, funded by Ignite, a subsidiary of the Ministry of Information Technology. Daftarkhwan Alpha has a 450+ member capacity and brings you Daftarkhwan’s signature design and vibrant workspaces including amenities such as military-grade security, secure parking, a 10,000 sq. ft. cafe and a podcast room. Furthermore an on-site daycare facility, banking centers, ATMs and one-window legal and regulatory support facilities are planned to launch this January.

Riaz Haq said...

#Pakistan’s Abhi Issues First #Sukuk #Bond for a #Fintech in Region. #Karachi-based startup raised 2 billion rupees ($6.8 million). Demand exceeded expectations with subscriptions reaching twice the anticipated amount. #startup #technology

Pakistan’s financial platform Abhi has raised the first-ever Sukuk bond for a fintech firm in the region, opening a new funding line for startups that have seen a slowdown in venture capital.

The Karachi-based startup raised 2 billion rupees ($6.8 million), an industry first for the Middle East, Africa and Pakistan region, said Omair Ansari, chief executive officer and co-founder. Demand exceeded expectations with subscriptions reaching twice the anticipated amount, he said in an interview.

Riaz Haq said...

Google and Pakistan collaborate to drive IT education, 45,000 scholarships announced - Global Village Space

Pakistan’s Federal Minister for Information Technology and Telecommunication, Syed Aminul Haq, announced a groundbreaking agreement with Google during the Startups for Industries and IT Exports conference held at the Korangi Association of Trade and Industry (KATI). The agreement entails 45,000 scholarships to be provided by Google, with the aim of increasing the number to 450,000 in the following year. Notably, at least 40 percent of these scholarships will be reserved for women. This initiative marks a significant step forward in promoting IT education and fostering the growth of Pakistan’s digital industry.

Expanding Educational Opportunities
The collaboration between Pakistan and Google sets out to address the pressing need for skilled IT professionals in the country. The allocation of 45,000 scholarships signifies a remarkable increase from the previous year’s 15,000 scholarships. By targeting women, the government aims to bridge the gender gap in the tech industry, empowering more female individuals to pursue careers in IT. This initiative recognizes the importance of diversity and inclusion in driving innovation and technological advancements.

Empowering the IT Industry
Minister Aminul Haq emphasised the government’s commitment to the growth of the IT sector by announcing the construction of a dedicated building at NED University, with an investment of $1.6 million. The facility will serve as a hub for gaming and animation, nurturing local talent and further propelling the industry forward. These efforts align with the government’s vision of promoting startups, gaming, and animation within the country, leading to increased employment opportunities and economic growth.

Supporting Startups and Innovation
The conference brought together industry experts, entrepreneurs, and policymakers to discuss the importance of startups and innovation in the IT sector. Senator Abdul Haseeb Khan highlighted the crucial role that research and development play in driving industry growth. He also emphasised that startups today no longer require massive investments, thanks to the conducive environment and government support. With the increase in the number of incubation centres from five to eight in just three years, Pakistan is nurturing a vibrant ecosystem for startups to thrive.

Boosting IT Exports
Deputy Patron of KATI, Zubair Chhaya, lauded the efforts of Minister Aminul Haq, acknowledging the significant growth in Pakistan’s IT exports. From a modest $1 billion in exports, the sector has witnessed a remarkable surge to $2.6 billion at the end of the last financial year. This growth places Pakistan on a promising trajectory, showcasing its potential to compete with neighbouring countries. To further bolster the IT industry, Nighat Awan, the Senior Vice President of KATI, called for the abolishment of duties on machinery and IT-related products, fostering an environment conducive to expansion and innovation.

Riaz Haq said...

Lahore’s Tech Renaissance: From Astrolabes To AI
Amir Husain

Amir Husain is the Founder & CEO of the global AI company, SparkCognition, and the CEO of SkyGrid.

Zaib and I just concluded a fascinating visit to Lahore, Pakistan. We were joined on this trip by Prof. Bruce Porter, former Chairman of UT Austin Computer Science and Chief Science Officer of SparkCognition, along with colleagues from SparkCognition, SkyGrid, and Navigate.

Lahore is an ancient and vibrant city, once one of the largest manufacturing centers of mechanical computers, called Astrolabes. Built by Muhammad Muqim and his family in the 16th century, these computers came hundreds of years before the Jacquard Loom or Charles Babbage’s Analytical Engine. The city is now busily reinventing itself as a modern hub for entrepreneurship and academia. Our journey unveiled numerous innovative startups, cutting-edge research projects, and the thriving connections between the city’s entrepreneurial and educational ecosystems.

Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS)

Our first public event was at the Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS), a prestigious institution renowned for its research and entrepreneurial spirit. Prof. Porter and I had the opportunity to deliver talks on entrepreneurship and artificial intelligence (AI) to an enthusiastic audience of students and faculty members.

Prof. Porter's talk focused on the three generations of AI, tracing its development from search algorithms to expert systems and the Generative AI explosion. The lecture provided insights into AI's potential to transform industries and our daily lives.

After the talks, we connected with professors and students, learning about their innovative startups and groundbreaking research projects. It was inspiring to see the passion and drive on display at LUMS.

IoT, EVs, and Quantum, Oh My!

We encountered three standout teams pushing the boundaries of technology and innovation. The first was the quantum computing group at LUMS which has developed and indigenously built an experimental quantum information processor. I was told by Dean Anwar of the Syed Babar Ali School of Science and Engineering (SBASSE) that this device has two entangled physical qubits based on single photons from a heralded source. This effort lands LUMS on a short list of global quantum computing research organizations. Applications of quantum computing may eventually revolutionize materials science and much more. It was quite impressive to see a cutting-edge effort like this underway at the school.

Riaz Haq said...

Lahore’s Tech Renaissance: From Astrolabes To AI
Amir Husain

Another intriguing venture spun off from LUMS is a startup that develops affordable three-wheel electric vehicles (EVs). As the world increasingly turns to sustainable transport solutions, this company aims to cater to the growing demand for cost-effective EVs in Pakistan and beyond.

The third group is running an agri-tech research initiative that combines AI and the Internet of Things (IoT) to control large-scale agricultural processes autonomously. The project seeks to optimize variables such as fertilizer, water, and pesticide, and monitor plant health, thereby increasing productivity in the farming sector.

Technologies such as these can lift the local economy, increase global collaboration, and scale exports.

Aitchison College

Our next stop was my old alma mater, Aitchison College, a prestigious K-12 school founded in 1885. Boasting one of the world's most beautiful campuses on a sprawling 200 acres of land, the school has evolved from an elite institution to offering full-ride scholarships for applicants from diverse backgrounds.

Michael Thomson, the Principal of Aitchison College, and his lovely wife, Elizabeth, gave us a tour of the school's museum, the impressive chemistry labs, and the nearly complete Artificial Intelligence, Robotics, and Biotech building. This new facility will be a massive asset for Aitchison and the student community, bringing research and entrepreneurship to the high school level.

One of the most inspiring stories we heard was that of a young graduate from the tribal belt along the Afghan border in North Waziristan. Upon meeting this impressive young gentleman, we learned that after receiving a full scholarship at Aitchison, he is now heading to Dartmouth for higher studies – a transformative opportunity for him, his family, and his village.

Entrepreneurs in Lahore

During our trip, we interacted with numerous entrepreneurs who have contributed significantly to Lahore's entrepreneurial ecosystem. Among them was the legendary Syed Babar Ali, founder of LUMS and Chairman of Packages Ltd. Babar Ali is one of the most admired Pakistanis globally. In his long list of laurels is his dedication to environmental conservation and a term as the President of the World Wildlife Foundation (WWF), which he took over from Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, in 1996. His contributions to industry and education are immeasurable. At the young age of 97, he continues to work from his office daily, maintaining a hectic and full schedule. His unwavering dedication and passion are truly inspiring.

We also met Aezaz Hussain, the founder of Systems Ltd., Pakistan's oldest software company. Mr. Hussain has led his company with great poise for over forty years. He has now expanded his enterprise globally through a network of affiliated companies. The Systems Ltd. network encompasses businesses in the UAE, Australia, Saudi Arabia, India, Europe, and the US. With around 10,000 employees, Systems is experiencing rapid growth and solidifying Pakistan's position in the global software industry.

Nabeel Ahmed, the founder of Core9, a new AI services company focused on industrial applications and a SparkCognition partner, took us on a tour of the Sundar Industrial Estate. Here, we learned about the nearly 650 manufacturing companies based in the park, spanning industries such as pharma, textiles, TVs, and chemicals. Meeting one of the newest SparkCognition clients, a multinational chemical manufacturer also located within the Sundar Industrial Estate, was exciting and inspiring.

Riaz Haq said...

Lahore’s Tech Renaissance: From Astrolabes To AI
Amir Husain

The Lahore-based team at FiveRivers Technologies has been a tremendous partner for SparkCognition. But FiveRivers also impressed us by showcasing a suite of their domestically built software products gaining traction in international markets. Their SmartWindows application is one such example. The application enhances productivity for power users by supercharging window and state management on PCs. It’s quickly gaining users worldwide.

Later that night, at a wonderful ecosystem dinner organized by Usman Malik of power company, PITCO and Mahmud Hiraj of private equity firm, Baltoro Capital, we met many other members of the innovation ecosystem in Lahore. Usman heads the power plant design arm of PITCO, which traces its origins back to 1938. Mahmud is a founding partner at Baltoro Capital, a leading private equity firm in Pakistan. Mahmud moved back to Lahore after spending 15 years in the finance industry in North America. His fund, Baltoro, is Pakistan-focused and capitalizes on the country’s growing consumer market and rising export competitiveness.

Export is a key area of focus for many Pakistani entrepreneurs, particularly those building high-tech products. One of the guests at the ecosystem dinner was Salem Rehman of EMCO Industries. EMCO is Pakistan's premier manufacturer of high-voltage products for the electric grid. His company has a long history of catering to the domestic and regional markets but has now also started exporting to the United States.

Wrapping up

Our trip to Lahore allowed us to witness firsthand the energy and drive of Lahore’s entrepreneurs. The city is full of innovative startups, research projects, and academies focused on scientific development. This varied and fast-growing ecosystem is a testament to Lahore's immense potential and creativity.

As we continue our work in Austin, build new relationships in Munich, and explore partnerships in Lahore, we hope to contribute to the growth of entrepreneurial communities in all these innovation centers. By fostering connections between these vibrant cities, we can nurture AI and broader S&T collaborations that have the potential to change the world. The unyielding passion of the people we met makes us optimistic about the future of Lahore, of Pakistan, and indeed, of the world.

Riaz Haq said...

LMKT teams up with INSEAD to launch ‘Incubation Program’ at NIC Karachi

KARACHI: LMKT, a leading full-service technology company in Pakistan specializing in tech incubation and IT solutions, has announced its collaboration with researchers from renowned global business school INSEAD to launch the XSeed Incubation Program in collaboration with NIC Karachi, Pakistan’s largest tech incubator.

The XSeed Incubation Program is a 12-month initiative that supports early-stage venture development and fosters the growth of new startups. Drawing on the successful experiences from other global markets, the program adopts rigorous frameworks developed by INSEAD’s experts in entrepreneurship and strategy. The collaboration with industry leaders ensures that the program offers tailored support to Pakistani entrepreneurs, enabling them to thrive in the dynamic business landscape.

NIC Karachi, funded by Ignite and operated by LMKT, is a dedicated incubation center and startup accelerator that has played a pivotal role in empowering innovative entrepreneurs through mentorship, training, and access to funding.

With a remarkable track record of incubating over 299 startups, creating more than 99,000 jobs, and raising Rs. 8.1 Billion in investment, NIC Karachi continues to spearhead Pakistan’s entrepreneurship scene.

Atif R. Khan, CEO LMKT, expressed his enthusiasm about the collaboration, stating: “We are thrilled to partner with researchers from INSEAD to launch the XSeed Incubation Program in collaboration with NIC Karachi.

This initiative reflects our commitment to foster the growth and development of the startup ecosystem in Pakistan. By combining LMKT’s expertise in scalable IT solutions and the global knowledge of INSEAD researchers, we aim to provide aspiring entrepreneurs with a transformative platform to turn their ideas into successful businesses.

Dr. Chiara Spina, Assistant Professor, Entrepreneurship and Family Enterprise at INSEAD, highlighted the significance of this collaboration, stating, “We are excited to join forces with LMKT and NIC Karachi to launch the XSeed Incubation Program. This partnership exemplifies INSEAD’s commitment to fostering real change through entrepreneurship and supporting the growth of innovative companies. By combining our expertise in entrepreneurship and strategy with the vibrant ecosystem of NIC Karachi, we aim to empower Pakistani entrepreneurs and drive impactful change in the startup landscape of Pakistan.”

Faizan Laghari, Project Director NIC Karachi, emphasized the importance of this collaboration, saying, “This partnership with researchers from INSEAD and LMKT marks a significant milestone for NIC Karachi. It further strengthens our mission to empower aspiring entrepreneurs and nurture innovation within Pakistan. By leveraging the expertise and global network of INSEAD researchers, we are confident that the XSeed Incubation Program will provide invaluable support and resources to our startup community, enabling them to thrive and make a lasting impact on the entrepreneurial ecosystem of Pakistan.