Chief Editor's Message

Welcome to the first edition of Ignite, newsletter of the National ICT R&D Fund! We hope to regale you with in-house news and views from the frontier of tech and the entrepreneurial eco-system in Pakistan. We are excited about the projects we have funded in the last two months, which range from Implantables to Virtual Reality and from Artificial Intelligence and Big Data to Augmented Reality. These technologies are all part of what has been termed the “Fourth Industrial Revolution,” which follows on the heels of revolutions wrought by the steam engine, electricity and information technology. These technologies and other collaborative models and technologies like block chain, shared economy, robotics, IoT and biotechnology will form the building blocks of the knowledge economy over the next decade. They will be the employment generators and the drivers of economic growth in both developed and developing economies. While the previous wave of innovation centered on mobile apps, e-commerce, social networks, and chatting apps, this wave is distinct in its relative technological or algorithmic complexity and hardware intensivity. Such 4th Industrial Wave startups, the new core focus of our Fund, will be characterized by more research and longer development cycles.


Our showcase story is the launch of the first National Incubation Center (NIC) in Islamabad. Managed by Jazz in Islamabad, the NIC initiative is the brainchild of Minister of State of IT and Telecom, Ms. Anusha Rehman, who was inspired by a visit to the TechCity Incubator in London, and resolutely pursued a similar initiative in Pakistan. In country after country, the Startup is the motif and driver of the knowledge economy. Incubators nurture and accelerate such startups that change the way we live, work and play.  By the end of this year, similar incubators should be operational in the four provincial capitals, together with three innovation centers focused on 4th Industrial Wave technologies. The innovation centers initiative is led by Ali Iqbal, and the incubator program by Jawad Azfar.


Our blogs are diverse – ranging from a literary perspective on Augmented Reality by AR/VR Evangelist Faysal Malik to a successful case history relayed by guest blogger, Mehreen Sohail. In the future, blogs will also provide synopses of studies we commission on the entrepreneurial ecosystem or IT skills needs, for example. All content is garnished by our editorial partner IDG, the most powerful global brand in popular IT journalism. A special thanks to Nadeem Nasir for leading our media revamp, including this newsletter. 


A theme which will hopefully emerge in the newsletter is our new focus on commercialization, as approved and directed by our Board of Directors. We want to become a Venture Capital Fund, which still funds grants, but is now focused on impact, at least long term. To attain this objective, we will be launching a mentorship program that includes business leaders, arranging co-investments and follow up investments, developing deeper in-house expertise, and building researcher-entrepreneur and startup-corporate ties. A glance at pics and selfies of some of our visitors will provide a testament to the diverse individuals and organizations who edify us.


We live in one of the most transformational periods in history. Through this newsletter, we hope in our own little way, to help our readers develop a more informed insight into this transformation and its impact on our society. I am certain the first edition will have much room for improvement. Please share your feedback on how we can make this newsletter more enjoyable and informative.


Yusuf Hussain, CEO