Associated Press Service
ISLAMABAD:Federal Minister for Planning & Development Ahsan Iqbal on Thursday said that ability to ask questions and seek answers was the foundation of creativity and the bedrock of Innovation. He was speaking at the Pakistan Innovation Forum 2014 titled “Innovation Nation – The Challenge and Opportunities of Creating an Innovation Eco-system.” He noted that his government has earmarked funds to support innovation in the country including one billion rupee Technology Development Fund for returning PhDs and a fund for Public Sector Innovation.
Prior to this, Mr. Saad Amanullah Khan, the Chairman of Pakistan Innovation Foundation (PIF) opened the Forum with a plea for creating an eco-system to support innovation. He noted that Pakistan does very well on Global Innovation Index not because it has quality inputs but because its people have learnt to deliver more with less. But there is a dire need to invest heavily in innovation that we could realize the true potential of this Innovation Nation.
The conference brought together leaders of the industry, business, academic and government dignitaries as well as innovators and entrepreneurs together at a platform to share and learn from one another’s experience.
Leading experts from various fields of life including Mr. Alex Dehgan, former Science Advisor to USAID Administrator, Mr. Tris Dyson, Head of Challenge Prizes Center at NESTA, UK, Dr. Shaukat Hameed Khan, Coordinator General COMSTECH, Senator Osman Saifullah Khan and Dr. Sania Nishtar, former minister participated in insightful and inspiring sessions on Corporate Innovation, Development Innovation, Educational Innovation and the Policy Forum. His Excellency Peter Hayward, the Australian High Commissioner as well as Marc-Andre Franche were also present through the panel discussions on Policy as well as Future of Innovation
Dr. Athar Osama, the Founder and Chief Executive of PIF, presented a one year report card of the Foundation. PIF has, in partnership with Indus Motor Company, Pakistan Poverty Alleviation Fund, and Ilm Ideas run the National Innovation Grand Challenge (NIGC) comprising 3 Innovation Challenges focusing on Manufacturing Innovation, Agriculature+Rural Innovation, and Learning Innovation (IlmAppsChallenge).
These Challenges sought to identify and inspire students, professionals, entrepreneurs and citizen innovators to use their talent and creativity to help solve Pakistan’s competitiveness challenges and development problems. The Conference was an opportunity to reward and celebrate these innovators.
PIF ran the Ilm Ideas sponsored grant by the name of IlmAppsChallenge. Under the said grant Winners of a six-month-long intensive process that saw more than 150 ideas compete through a series of brainstorming sessions, 3 hackathons, a product development boot camp, and a mentoring programme were announced at the event.
The Winners of the IlmAppsChallenge who shall receive funding to develop, deploy, and test their educational technology ventures include Knowledge Platform for an intelligent learning management and content system, Arbisoft for creating a virtual platform for simulating practicals which are in accordance with matric/O level curriculum, Amal for developing an App for Teaching Cognitive, Social & Emotional Skills to Primary School Children and MS-ITE Programme at NUST for developing digitized primary science curriculum.
The overarching aim of conference is to create a culture of innovative problem solving in Pakistan and help create an innovation eco-system in Pakistan.
A panel on Educational Innovation brought together Fasi Zaka, Zehra Zaidi from Ilm Ideas, Faisal Mushtaq from Roots Millennium, and Khurram Zafar from LUMS Center for Entrepreneurship to discuss how technology could help address Pakistan’s Educational Emergency. The panelists noted that Pakistan must intelligently experiment with educational technology to ascertain problems before scaling solutions at a bigger level. The panelists also emphasized the need for taking ground realities into account before developing technology solutions.
Sessions on Corporate Innovation, Development Innovation, Future of Innovation, and Policy Forum also engaged audiences. An Innovation Showcase featuring the work of young innovators was also appreciated.
Ilm Ideas is a UKaid funded programme that awards grants under two funds, the Education Voice and Accountability Fund and the Education Innovation Fund, for increasing access to quality education for children in classes 1 – 10 across Pakistan. The Education Innovation Fund supports innovative solutions to solve challenges faced in access to quality education. Each project supported by Ilm Ideas seeks to have an impact on increased enrolment rates and retention, improved learning outcomes, enhanced parent and student satisfaction; or better governance, transparency and accountability in the education sector. While the Pakistan Innovation Foundation is a non-profit entity that seeks to promote innovation within Pakistan by engaging corporate sector and the donor community. PIF does this by carrying out awareness creation, reward and recognition, and research and advocacy for innovation in Pakistan.