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National Incubation Center Lahore Accelerates Cloud and AI Enablement for Start-ups, Signs MoU with Huawei Cloud

Advancing its mission to facilitate tech-based start-ups to solve Pakistan’s critical problems, National Incubation Center Lahore (NICL) at LUMS signed an MoU on March 29 with Huawei Technologies, Pakistan during the Huawei Cloud Summit Middle East in Dubai.

The partnership hopes to enable a “Digital Pakistan” and aims to increase the implementation of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Cloud technology, particularly Everything as a Service, through knowledge sharing. Huawei aims to support the start-up ecosystem in Pakistan and, with this partnership, will enroll relevant selected start-ups to the different programmes offered by Huawei Cloud. It will also support Pakistan’s start-ups to enroll in its global accelerator programmes to enable tech-based start-ups that are ready to scale.

“We are pleased to partner with the National Incubation Center Lahore, that is driving the knowledge-based economy of Pakistan,” said Mr. Wang Shunli, President Public Relations, Huawei Middle East and Africa Region. “Huawei is globally committed to enhancing the tech enablement of start-ups through Huawei Cloud and the launching of the Spark Program. It is our goal, particularly in a high potential market like Pakistan, to facilitate the start-up ecosystem by incubating and accelerating tech start-ups towards a fully connected and intelligent world, as a supporter and a technology partner. I am certain that NICL will be an invaluable ally in our collective goal.”

NICL at LUMS, a fully-funded project by Ignite, Ministry of IT and Telecommunications, focuses on technologies such as Cloud, AI, Virtual Reality (VR), blockchain, etc. to enable innovation in solution-building among Pakistani start-ups and facilitate a digital transformation in Pakistan. Its goal is to serve as a nexus of talent, academia, industry, and capital by providing start-ups with the environment, resources and applied skills training needed to acquire investor interest and launch their venture.

Mr. Nauman Zaffar, Director NICL and NIC Quetta, expanded on the importance of opening a tech-knowledge corridor. “Our partnership with Huawei Cloud is a colossal step to enable start-ups and small-medium enterprises in Pakistan to leapfrog towards tech adoption and optimisation. The opportunity to innovate and digitise with Huawei Cloud services is limitless, and the window for Pakistani start-ups to accelerate growth and scale up is now. We are thrilled to have partnered with one of the top five cloud services in the world, so our start-ups can actively contribute to an ecosystem that is propelled by data and driven by technology.”

Huawei Cloud Summit Middle East – Unlimited Innovation, Everything as a Service, was held on March 28 and 29 to discuss the best practices and insights in the industries so that businesses can better leverage Cloud and AI technologies.

Pakistani start-up wins first place across South Asia in maiden Stanford SEED Spark Program

National Incubation Center (NIC) Lahore at LUMS nominated start-up Codeschool.pk has won top laurels and a cash prize in the capstone business pitch competition in the Stanford Seed Spark Program for high-achieving entrepreneurs across South Asia. This was the inaugural cohort from Pakistan, and was introduced by NIC LUMS.

“Our partnership with Stanford SEED Spark reflects our confidence in Pakistani entrepreneurs and their ability to compete with the very best talent globally,” said Saleem Ahmad, Chairman NIC LUMS Lahore and Quetta at the graduation ceremony of Stanford SEED Spark’s inaugural cohort in Pakistan. “Our conviction is reinforced by the fact that all of NIC LUMS mentored start-ups made the top 20 finalists and have brought home much pride in also winning the top position across South Asia.”

83 ventures participated in the program, from across 17 collaborating institutions such as IIT Bombay, TiE Chennai and CII-Young Indians. The competition selected only the top 20 graduates as finalists. After a rigorous scoring process, the top three start-ups were selected to win a cash prize as well as a virtual showcase feature in the global Stanford SEED Spark gallery.

“Our collaboration with NIC LUMS for Spark’s maiden cohort in the Pakistan start-up ecosystem has been a great experience,” said P. R. Ganapathy, Regional Director, Stanford Seed South Asia. “We are thrilled to see the energy and enthusiasm that NIC LUMS nominated entrepreneurs brought to the program. We are looking forward to meeting more innovators and problem solvers from Pakistan to apply and make best use of a word-class online entrepreneurship program at their own pace and time.”

Speaking about her journey with the program, co-founder Sadaf Rehman commented, “The Stanford SEED Spark Program was instrumental in helping us articulate our vision. The frameworks, expert sessions, as well as the one-on-one mentorship provided just the right mix to propel us beyond what we could have achieved on our own. I am deeply grateful to NIC LUMS for introducing this program to Pakistan, and for the networking opportunities and support that they have provided along our journey.”

Her venture, Codeschool.pk, provides fun, interactive coding classes to children aged six years and up, with the aim to promote critical 21st century skills like problem solving, creativity, and resilience. Within the first year of operations the startup is reaching over 450 students in ten countries. She was mentored by LUMS alumnus Adeel Saya, Program Manager, Google in Zurich.

Another NIC LUMS backed entrepreneur, Malik Waleed Tariq, founder of XStak, also made the top 20 finalist list. His venture is an all-in-one, self-service Retail Operating System that enables retailers to perform omnichannel commerce, marketing, payments, and business intelligence operations on a transaction-based pricing model. He was mentored by another LUMS alumnus, Ali Almakky, Strategy and Operations, JPMorgan, London.

Haris Anwaar, AWS Finance, Amazon, (Seattle) also joined the NIC mentors list with a start-up in the top 20 finalists.

The Stanford SEED Spark Program is a four-month training for early-stage entrepreneurs in traction or growth stage and seeks to empower them with practical tools to refine and develop their businesses through an action-based curriculum, networking opportunities with peers, one-on-one mentorship, and live expert-sessions. NIC LUMS brought the Stanford SEED Spark program to Pakistan and will be expanding it nationwide, with the second cohort due to begin in March 2022.

The Program is one of three academically supplemented training opportunities provided by NIC LUMS. Its Foundry Program is driven by LUMS’ curriculum and taught by the University’s faculty, and has recently launched the Entrepreneurship 101 program in collaboration with Germany’s University of Saarland.

NIC LUMS makes a compelling case for innovation in SMEs to enhance productivity, competitiveness and exports at the EU Pakistan Business Forum

Recognizing Small Medium Enterprises (SMEs) as the backbone for economic activity in Pakistan, European Union hosted a business forum to discuss strategies for enhancing trade with European Single Market and benefit from GSP+.  The daylong event held at a local hotel in Lahore was attended by delegates from Government, European Member States, local industry and academia.

In his keynote address, the Chairman of National Incubation Center Lahore at LUMS, Saleem Ahmad, presented a compelling case for corporate innovation as a means to enhancing productivity and competitiveness. Providing a strong evidence based case, he stated that, “Pandemic-led market distortions and supply chain interruptions have provided an opportunity for innovation and technological leapfrogging.  To be able to compete with game-changing newcomers, SMEs need to emulate start-up culture, upskill its human capital and embrace the entrepreneurial mindset to defend their turf and attain global competitiveness through quality and cost effectiveness. Moreover,  by capitalizing on innovation and technology, SMEs can help bridge the country’s productivity gap, a 2-3 percent increase in productivity can accelerate Pakistan’s GDP by more than 6%.”

Mr.Ahmad further detailed how SMEs should leverage incubation centers, especially NICL at LUMS, as their innovation and corporate networking hubs.  Under his leadership, NICL at LUMS has expanded its scope from serving as springboard for venture incubation to focusing on mass scale human capital development through applied skills training and corporate innovation. This has been achieved via an intersection of applied research, industry and talent to solve Pakistan’s biggest problems.

EU Ambassador to Pakistan, Androulla Kaminara complemented the role of NICL at LUMS in bringing best global practices to Pakistan and creating linkages with universities for technological innovation and access to experts.  She encouraged proliferation of this model to enhance the export potential of SMEs across Pakistan.

NIC LUMS augments Foundation Council with trailblazing Pakistani entrepreneurs and investors

National Incubation Center Lahore (NICL) at LUMS has onboarded illustrious Pakistani start-up founders, inventors and investors to help accelerate innovation and entrepreneurship-led economic growth in Pakistan. The seven new Council members include four Pakistani women venture capitalists and entrepreneurs with academic qualifications from MIT, Harvard and Stanford. NICL’s Foundation Council curates, inspires, mentors and monitors the progress of its Foundry programme that culminates in the successful launch of ventures.

“NICL’s revamped venture incubation model is rooted in discovery and innovation. Being an integral part of LUMS, we are uniquely positioned to pioneer this model by fostering an intersection of applied research, industry and talent. Solving Pakistan’s biggest problems requires extraordinary human capital development. We are fortunate that we are able to do so with the help of faculty at LUMS and our stellar Council members who embody our spirit of excellence, resilience and character,” said Saleem Ahmad, Chairman NICL.

The new Council members include tech disruptor Dr. Wardah Inam, Founder and CEO of Overjet, a dental AI-venture based in the US which recently raised $27MM from leading VCs. She previously worked at Q Bio, GE and Apple and received her PhD from MIT, where she developed AI-powered microgrid technology, recognised by National Geographic as a breakthrough that could transform the way we power the world. As a postdoctoral fellow at MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab, she worked on remote biomedical sensing, using machine learning on wireless signals. Dr. Inam is the recipient of MIT Graduate Women of Excellence Award and will also be joining the NICL Advisory Board.

She is joined by Anna Khan, General Partner at Charles River Ventures (CRV), one of the oldest venture capital firms in the US where she focuses on enterprise software and has invested in Storyboard, Workstream, Cord, Figure, and Tribe. Prior to CRV, she spent five years at Bessemer Venture Partners, investing across the software ecosystem. Ms. Khan is the Founder and CEO of Launch X, an accelerator that helps female founders learn how to raise capital for their businesses, and has been featured in Harvard Alumni Magazine and Bloomberg Business. An honours graduate of Stanford and with an MBA with distinction from Harvard, Ms. Khan was named as Forbes’ ‘30 under 30’ and is also the author of several industry-leading papers on the cloud ecosystem.

Also joining is Sacha Haider, Principal at Global Ventures based in Dubai. She brings investment experience in MENA, Sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America, and Asia, through her work as an investor at Colony Capital in Mexico, Abraaj in Kenya and L Catterton in Singapore. She is a graduate of University of Warwick.

Halima Iqbal, Founder and CEO at Oraan, Pakistan’s first women-led, women-first fintech, is also a new Council member. Formerly, she founded Mealsurfers, a food-tech start-up in Toronto where she also worked as an investment banker with TD Securities. She is a graduate of University of Waterloo.

The Council also welcomed Rabeel Warraich, Founder of Sarmayacar, a major Pakistani venture capital fund. Mr. Warraich was formerly a Vice President at the Government of Singapore’s private equity firm, GIC Investment Management and an investment banker at Morgan Stanley based in London. He is a graduate of Economics from MIT and the University of Oxford.

Joining him is Omair Ansari, Co-Founder and CEO of Abhi, a Y-Combinator affiliated start-up that has built a Shariah-compliant salary advance platform aimed at digitising consumer credit in the country. Previously, Mr. Ansari worked at Morgan Stanley as an investor focused on frontier and emerging markets based in New York. He is a graduate of McMaster University.

Salman Khalid is Founder of Chogori Ventures, an angel investors syndicate for Pakistan, and Director of BNP Paribas in the M&A team for MENA. Previously, he worked at private equity funds Manara infrastructure Fund and Emerging Markets Partnerships in Bahrain and Washington D.C. Mr. Khalid was a Fulbright Scholar at Georgetown University, an MBA from LUMS and has an Electrical Engineering degree from UET Lahore.

Speaking about recent developments at NICL, Dr. Arshad Ahmad, Vice Chancellor, LUMS recognised NICL’s transformational journey over the past year, “Despite the challenges of the pandemic, the new team continues to uplift the quality of the Centre’s services with a laser-focus on impacting Pakistan’s entrepreneurship talent. The calibre of recent appointments is a reflection of its exceptional strengths and persistent focus on delivering results.”

Smart Helmet – Save Lives; One Coal Mine at a Time

There are several problems existing within various departments of Pakistan’s mining industry. The most significant one is the fact the rate at which coal miners lose their lives because of otherwise manageable factors. These factors range from uncontrolled hazardous gases such as methane and carbon monoxide that are constantly being released in the environment.

According to recorded stats around 3 lac workers have notably been associated with this profession in Balochistan alone.

It was recorded that in just one year more than 160 coal mine workers lose their lives in several mines across the province.

The founders of Smart Helmet, Ali Gul, incubated in the National Incubation Center Quetta was inspired to create this product when four coal miners from one family lost their lives due to poorly managed mine circumstances. More than 300 workers are known to be facing serious problems during a year. These incidents are routinely affairs in Balochistan.

The President of All Pakistan Labour Federation, Sultan Muhammad Khan claimed that about 0.3 million laborers employed across the province as each site consists of more than 1,000 mines including Chamalang, Luni, Harnai, Mach, Duki, Marwar and Low range area of the province. Furthermore, around 33 cases of death and 70 cases of injuries had been reported during the last year in the province due to negligence of the authorities concerned. The main reason of deaths in the mines was reported to be lack of oxygen and explosions caused due to methane gas.

Being personally affected by the coal mining incidents in Baluchistan, Ali Gul designed and developed Eye Smart helmet for coal mines worker.

The feature of eye smart helmet is to detect the hazardous gases, the temperature, rise in humidity, body oxygen levels and heart pulse level with voice communication in Real time. This further allows the helmet to generate an SOS call and alert coal miners with its sate of art dust mask. The helmet tracks real time location with a unique miner id.

The data generated is displayed on a desktop to allow easy monitoring of the activities being conducted by the coal miners.

Using Machine learning on sensor data projects the future mine environment parameters and worker’s health related for time stamp.

The National Incubation Centers across the country are always focused in seeking unique ideas that contribute to the greater good of both, the country and of humanity.

Dr. Sarah Qureshi On the Brink of An Aerospace Marvel

Dr. Sarah Qureshi is a force to be reckoned with as she sets out with a team to introduce a sophisticated new feature into the aerospace universe. Born and raised in Islamabad, Qureshi recalls having been raised by a family that valued and encouraged education. She grew up inspired by a mother who possessed a PhD in Quantum Chemistry and a father who tirelessly made a name for himself as a prominent Physicist and Scientist.

She completed her bachelor’s in Mechanical engineering from National University of Sciences and Technology and pursued a Master’s in Aerospace Dynamics and a PhD in Aerospace Propulsion, both, from Cranfield University, UK. In conversation with NIC, Qureshi recalls:

SQ: I was very focused and clear about my ambitions from a very young age. After graduating as an engineer and while working in the automotive industry in Pakistan I started to learn flying. I obtained my Private pilot license in Pakistan. During my time at Cranfield University which had its own airport, being the hub of aerospace in Europe I learnt acrobatic flying (loop, spin, hammerhead, barrel roll etc.) of which the most exciting and challenging maneuvers was spinning the aircraft and then recovering it from the spin.

RK: What continued to inspire or motivate you to actively pursue and then retain interest in this field?

SQ: Aviation is a passion; you either have it or you don’t. It is not something you do to make a profession. It has to be pursued deliberately and fervently.

RK: As a woman, it is unheard of for someone to go into aviation. Could you describe people’s response?

SQ: I realized that a lot is happening to support women. There are ample women willing to put in the effort; it is the society’s attitude that needs to be amended. Secondly, if we want women to be more involved and contributive, we need to accept children as part of the package. The arrangement cannot be exclusive. Women have a greater risk appetite and can therefore undertake cutting edge endeavors.

RK: Aside from external support, did your exposure as a child play a part in choosing aviation?

SQ: Yes, the environment at home and having my father in this profession helped a lot. I worked in the automotive industry and as a student I used to work on engines and machines with my father. I also did a few internships at automobile and engineering plants where I got a lot of hands on practice on the factory floor. Besides even as a child my father had his private set up and both my parents were very involved in teaching us ever since our school days.

RK: Where would you say the inspirational force behind Aero Engine Craft lies?

SQ: A major part of this work was also carried out in Pakistan with the support of my father who acted as an external supervisor for the research. That is how my father came up with this breakthrough invention that was granted two international patents. I further developed the entire engineering model for it during my PhD research. I was offered a university studentship for my masters and PhD. This particular problem was given to me as a research question for my PhD thesis by my supervisor Prof. Pericles Pilidis in 2012.

RK: There are always many roadblocks in the process. Did they ever feel like a hindrance towards your goal?

SQ: Roadblocks are a part of pursuing your passion. I went for my PhD after my marriage and had to return to Pakistan after one year when my daughter was born. I continued my PhD for a while in Pakistan working at home while caring for a very young child. When I returned to the UK my family was here, I was a single mother there and the challenges of that are completely different.

Even as a young girl going into factories, I met with discomfort. However, I do believe the support outweighed the distress and most people treated me professionally. I was the only girl in my undergrad engineering class and I often felt like an outcast; one girl amongst 60 boys. But since I don’t find it in me to give up and because I was so supported, I was overwhelmed by the assistance and never felt hindered.

RK: How challenging was it to balance being a mother and being in this field?

SQ: It was very challenging. Your whole world shifts. You are no longer a single entity. But I believe that when you start something there is a lot of inertia which is why if you begin during the good, you can drag it through the difficult. That is how it was for me. I remember a meeting with my supervisor while I was expecting and I was asked when the baby was due, I said “tomorrow” (laughing).

RK: Since the idea was developed abroad, did you ever feel like you should’ve stayed in the UK?

SQ: I was offered to stay there. The response there was excellent and the resources and workspace is incredible. Pakistan lacks the infrastructure and in the UK, the stage is pretty much set for you. You just need to do your bit of work; here in Pakistan everything needs to be done from scratch. You need to first set your own stage before you even get a chance to perform. But that makes your learning curve very steep and it’s a very enriching experience. So, coming back was a personal choice. Pakistan is our identity, this is where we belong and the kind of acceptance and support there is extended here, can’t be found elsewhere.

RK: At NIC Lahore, how has it been for you to work in the facility and with the NIC team?

SQ: It was wonderful. I don’t think anything is possible not just without team effort, but without team credit as well. I was lucky enough to not just be supported by my family but be provided a space by NIC that allowed me to work as per my convenience. I can bring my daughter here and work at my own pace and comfort and I value that a lot amongst other things. NIC enabled me to commercially launch my company Aero Engine Craft (pvt) Ltd as a three-generation startup co-founded by my father and named by my daughter. I would like to acknowledge everyone who has been a part of this journey.

RK: As a pursuer of dreams, when do you think you’ll feel the target of your passion is met? What’s the future?

SQ: The future is going to take time because I am aware of the journey I am on. I want to be able to create awareness through it and I know that deep down I am an environmentalist and I want my engine to benefit society and humanity. When all the engines in the world use this technology, and we are able to counter global warming and save the planet, I will feel like the target is met.

RK: Is there any message or food for thought you’d like to leave young entrepreneurs with?

SQ: Value time. It has its worth just like money.  My time now has a price because of what I am trying to accomplish. Don’t be frugal with time, make it mean something. Do not follow the trend, rather follow your aptitude and passion; that is where you will be able to excel.

The current team;

  1. Sarah Qureshi – Founder and Chief Executive Officer (Aerospace Engineering)
  2. Masood Latif Qureshi – Founder, Inventor and Chief Technology Officer (Design, Engine Development, Manufacturing and spin-off Inventions)
  3. Pericles Pilidis _ PhD supervisor and Academic Collaborator (Jet Engine Technology)
  4. Romana Qureshi – Combustion Chemist
  5. Hassan Waqar – Aeronautical Engineer; Aircraft Performance
  6. Saif Ul Malook – Mechanical Engineer ;Computational Fluid Dynamics
  7. Abdul Ghaffoor –Technician
  8. Tassaduq Hussain- Machinist
  9. Adnan Arif –Network Engineer
  10. Noor Khurram – Data Manager
  11. Shermeen Ahmed Khan- Consultant; Finance
  12. Asim Naseer-Consultant; Business Development
  13. Zahra Qureshi- International Business Collaborator
  14. Adil Zeshan- Technical Writer and Content Developer
  15. Maryam Khan – Developer; Contrail Trading Methodology
  16. Wali Ali – Developer; Artificial Rainfall Model
  17. Hamza Mehmood – Graduate Intern; Manufacturing
  18. Adil Habib – Undergraduate Intern ;Aviation Systems
  19. Omar Nazir – Undergraduate Intern ;Environment and Climate
  20. Nida Rasheed – Graphic Animator

AYECo. Introduces Smart Canes for the Visually Impaired

From the first batch of graduates of the National Incubation Center Lahore, Faaiz Arbab, a student in the electrical engineering graduate program at Lahore University of Management Sciences’ (LUMS) urbanized a voice-operated smart wheelchair called GOBEE. AYECo. is the first and only manufacturing company in Pakistan producing Smart Wheelchairs and assisted devices. Their wheelchairs can be operated from a mobile application and relives the user from relying on any physical attendant for movement. AYECo. is also working on other assisted devices.

Taking his successful, useful and progressive start-up a step further; AYECo. Is now introducing smart canes for the visually impaired. Smart Cane is an electronic device to help people with visual disability to find a path without hitting obstacles.

What motivated AYECo.?

Low vision and blindness are important public health problems. People with visual impairment usually need support and assistance unless they get vision rehabilitation with the provision of low vision devices, orientation and mobility training and counseling for making specific modifications in their living environment for proper adaptation towards performing day to day activities and social integration. Most electrical low vision devices cost an arm and a leg, and that is the primary reason why the poor in Pakistan cannot afford it. The average cost of an imported blind man stick is almost $400.

According to the Journal of Pakistan Medical Association (JPMA), there are 2 million people in Pakistan, who are visually impaired and almost 1.7 million of them are not affording a cane which costs $400.

The Solution They Offer

We live in an amazing time in terms of finding technological solutions for people who have lost their sight. Each day seems to bring a new medical or electronic solution, making the world more accessible for physically impaired. AYECo. Is researching on electronic blind man canes for the blind community of Pakistan. The start-up intends to produce a smart, effective cane which will cost no more than $50.

After struggling with and manufacturing multiple prototypes of the Smart Cane made, the start-up has finally perfect their product.

The first prototype was not fold-able and demonstrated difficult vibration pattern. The second prototype was modified and made a compact remote with the electronic circuitry embedded in it. In this way, Smart Cane become a fold-able device.

The Smart Cane has a rechargeable battery and can easily attach a white cane to it. AYECo. intends to launch the Smart Cane in Pakistan. Their aim is to provide cheap technological solutions for assistive devices in Pakistan.

They wish to make Smart Cane more compact and connect it with smartphones so that it can help the visually impaired navigate with ease. We wish the team at AYECo. The very best of luck as they improve the lifestyle of the physically impaired in Pakistan, one futuristic product at a time.

NIC Proudly Welcomes Ilm 2’s Second Cohort

Ilm Ideas 2 is a 4 year program that runs locally and is funded by the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DIFD) and is managed by Cambridge Education. In the grand scheme of things it ensures that the youth of Pakistan is well-endowed and literate.

The program itself focuses on 3 primary strands. Primarily it supports startups establish their business ideas that work towards improving the quality of education. IIM2 may provide them with grant funding to ensure the outcomes of the business plans are being met effectively and lastly, the program ensures that new and innovative ideas are being continuously supported even after the program ends.

In order to accomplish the three strands meritoriously and to guarantee plausible improvement in the education system of the country, NIC LUMS plays a pivotal role.

NIC welcomes Cohort 2 for Ilm 2

Under cohort 2 the following 6 startups currently incubated with NIC LUMS were shortlisted. Out of these 6, four were finalized to receive funding under the Ilm 2 program.

Ilm Rohi

Ilm Rohi offers blended learning programmes to teachers in Bahawalpur and Layyah district. The founder of ILM Rohi – Fida Hussain has extensive experience of working with various education institutes in Bahawalpur and he believes that teachers lack pedagogical skills in his area.

Fida wants to develop courses on teaching and learning and offer them to teachers in his district as well as neighboring districts.

BigBytes

BigBytes offers schools to develop Makerspaces to promote STEM learning. BigBytes offers its makerspace equipment to both high end and bottom of the pyramid schools and customizes its curriculum according to its clientele.

They also connect robotics experts for technical guidance in engineering projects. Their team comprises of 5 members and almost 30 volunteers.

Comic Con PK Foundation

Comic Con is providing training to high school students in content development and animation for the last 7 years. The startup is giving young children a voice through animation. They offer customized courses to children of all age groups on animation and cartoon creation.

The founder, Mudassar Butt is also developing a comic book and has developed a cartoonists network in Pakistan that comprises of 25 top cartoonists of the country.

 

Careerz360

Careerz 360 provides human resources services to university graduates through the use of human and artificial intelligence.

It bridges the gap between industry and academia by connecting startups and students from various universities with potential employment and research opportunities.

Honorable Mentions

Even though the following two did not make it to the final list, they were shortlisted by the team because of their innovative ideas and progressive approach.

Women’s Press

The startup aims to edit and publish books, research publications for schools, universities and institutions of higher education. Musharraf and his Co-Founder are targeting students between the ages of 5 to 18 years.

The Web Theater

TWT intends to create a talent hub in Pakistan in the form of a web channel platform. The startup aims to target people between the age groups of 15 to 35 years.

We wish the incubated 4 startups the very best of luck and hope to witness their growth as they continue to reach new entrepreneurial heights.

LUMS – Supporting Women Entrepreneurship in Pakistan

Gender rights and equal opportunities for women have always been a debatable concept. This is especially true for third world countries like Pakistan. For a very long time, women have been deprived even the acknowledgement that they may possess skills that can help them excel in the professional world. Despite making up more than 60% of Pakistan’s population, their craft has often been overlooked and considered non-lucrative for Pakistan’s economy.

However, the narrative is in a flux and has been for quite a while. Under this mutability comes the hopeful inventiveness of the Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS) National Incubation Centre (NIC) Lahore in cahoots with Karandaaz Pakistan. NIC won a competitive bid under the Women Entrepreneurship Challenge in 2017-18. This led to a productive partnership between NIC Lahore and Baluchistan University of Technology and Management Sciences (BUITEMS) to scout women led business venture like none other.

The National Incubation Center (NIC) Lahore was inaugurated by Minister of State for Information Technology and Telecommunications, Ms. Anusha Rahman Khan at a ceremony held at Lahore University of Management Sciences on December 23, 2017. NIC Lahore will house the first ever Makers Lab in Pakistan, a modern facility equipped with the latest technologies and smart equipment to bring ideas to life. The 23,000 square feet space not only houses the incubator and accelerator but also provides business acceleration services to incubated companies, a Smart Lab, a Design Thinking Lab and various libraries along with an in-house auditorium.

 

 

 

 

Driven by set guidelines and definitive objectives, the collaborative forces of NIC and BUITEMS sought high growth women led businesses and micro businesses. Their agenda; to further incubate them through the provision of a custom designed world-class curriculum and state of the art facilities paired with professional mentorship and the hopes of becoming a part of the grand business narrative.

After the tireless exploration, women led businesses were further connected to necessary financial sources, information and a network of well-versed facilitators. Furthermore, the micro entrepreneurs were enabled through a rigorous training curriculum at BUITEMS incubation center.

Since these steps were initially taken; 24 micro entrepreneurs were inducted in Quetta and 10 high growth businesses were incubated at NIC Lahore.

After the gruelling process of each business analysing itself to meet set bench marks, taking in the guidance and expanding their vision; the women entrepreneurs graduated on March 9th 2018. This ceremony entailed further empowering of their businesses allowing them to continue growing even after they left the direct guidance of the mentors at NIC.

To be viable graduates, NIC Lahore in collaboration with Karandaaz Pakistan hosted an Investors Summit allowing the women entrepreneurs to put learning into practice in front of a panel of esteemed judges from the managerial body, Karandaaz, Pakistan. The 26 businesses pitched their revamped, redefined and more mature pitches towards the judges. They demonstrated not only their growth under the guidance of NIC but also their approach towards a more sustainable business future.

In efforts to monitor impact, effectiveness and sustainability, the NIC management team used statistics based indicators to ensure NIC’s Key Performance Indicator’s (KPIs) are monitored throughout the structured incubation program.

The NIC regulation proved worthwhile when two high growth businesses; Aero Craft Engine founded by Sarah Qureshi and Zari Faisal Designs founded by Zarlasht Faisal, along with 14 micro entrepreneurs from Quetta received grants and equity investments.

Breaking Barriers: Sarah Qureshi sets out to take over the Aerospace Universe

With a PhD degree in Aerospace Engineering from Cranfield University, UK, Sarah Qureshi set out with a team of four including herself, to introduce a sophisticated new feature into the aerospace universe.

Qureshi is a powerhouse on her own with a Private Pilot License (PPL) and 70 hours of Flying Experience and familiarity in acrobatic flying. Driven by the passion to soar through the sky and to eliminate global warming, Qureshi and her team put together state of the art technology. With the added feature of reduced carbon footprint, her team designed a revolutionary contrail-free aero-engine.

This aero-engine is a unique pressure based condensation system devised specifically for airborne applications. It is a novel addition to the family of gas-turbine components. Not only does the technology reduce the aviation industry’s contribution to global warming by effectively eliminating contrails, but it also signifies a positive contribution of the aviation industry itself. It enables them towards meeting the global challenge of water scarcity by creating localized rain in the process.

Sarah Qureshi’s technology holds the potential to shift the negative impact of aviation to a positive contribution towards the environment.

This sophisticated and unique research project even won the Clean Technology Competition for the 2016 Clean Equity Conference, Monaco and was shortlisted for a few other environmental technology innovation competitions.

The concept is inimitable and the design is patent-protected. Its reliability, minimalism, and ease of implementation within the ecosystem are what set it apart. The design and the technology involved in its development are synergistic with the current technology employed by aero-engine manufacturers. Another unique specification is that it is a supplementary device and can therefore be cohesive to existing aircraft engines.

After being housed at NIC Lahore for four months, Qureshi and her team managed to receive decent investments from Karandaaz allowing them to pilot their project. With a financial plan in place and investors pegging their success, Aero Craft Engine is all set to take the aerospace industry by storm and NIC couldn’t be more proud.

The National Incubation Center Lahore believes in and strives to instill experiential learning through all the entrepreneurs it incubates. With the sole intention to breed sustainable, high-growth and high-impact ventures in Pakistan, NIC stands proud under the success of the Women Entrepreneurship Challenge with the promise that more female-led businesses will continue to flourish under their experienced wings.

So if you have an idea that you believe deserves to be heard and given an opportunity, then LUMS National Incubation Center is the place to be. Put ideas into action and send us your brief at salwa.akhtar@lums.edu.pk so we may scout, home and breed your dream into reality.

Treble, an alumnus of LCE makes it to Top 15 at Startup Istanbul 2016

treble

 

Treble, an alumnus of LUMS Center for Entrepreneurship from its 4th cohort, has made its way to the top 15 at Startup Istanbul 2016. The startup was selected from a pool of the most promising 100 startups from all over the world. It was one of the two Pakistani startups to be chosen from 25,000 startups from 135+ countries that applied in the capacity.

Treble is a brainchild of LUMS alumni Muhammad Saad and Muqeet Shahzad. Treble focuses on music and defines themselves as the Spotify + Instagram of crowd-sourced music videos. It takes videos uploaded by people across the globe and stitches them together to create a complete music video. After successfully graduating from the incubation program at the LUMS Center of Entrepreneurship in March 2016, the company has been invited to prestigious startup summits such as Google-LUMS Pakistan Startup Summit in May, 2016. Treble has also come into a partnership with Sony Global Entertainment for access to their music assets.

Startup Istanbul is the leading startup event which brings together founders, investors and executives in the region. It’s a gathering of the leading startups, internet companies, business angels and venture capitalists from Asia and Europe.