The Punjab Information Technology Board (PITB) is all set to launch a national-level technology incubator on August 31.
The tech incubator will help young entrepreneurs in coming up with innovative IT products in an eight-month long activity, a month of which they will spend in Silicon Valley, California.
The initiative is being launched in collaboration with the Pakistan Software Houses Association for IT and ITES (Information Technology Enabled Services), also known as P@SHA.
Called Plan 9, the project takes its name from the operating system designed by the Bell Labs (now AT&T) in the 1980s.
Hafsa Shorish, marketing manager of the project, says the name symbolises the revamping of the IT industry and alludes to the location of the technology incubator: 9th floor of the Arfa Karim Software Technology Park (ASTP) in Lahore.
“IT is the fastest growing industry in Pakistan,” remarked Shorish, “The aim is to create job creators instead of job seekers.”
The concept was introduced in Pakistan by the National University of Sciences and Technology, which set up its Technology Incubation Centre (TIC) in 2004. Plan 9, however, is a national initiative.
The project will provide teams with “an artificial ecosystem where they can nurture their IT ideas”, says Shorish.
Shorish says they have so far received more than 200 e-mails inquiring about the application and project details. She says a large number of Pakistanis living abroad have shown interest but added that they would only entertain local applications.
On August 31, when the Plan 9 team makes their website active, interested entrepreneurs will be invited to send their entries. Applicants have to be Pakistanis and above the age of 18.
They will have to send a project proposal and make a strong case for it.
A seven-member board of advisers, including PITB chairman Dr Umar Saif, Google Pakistan Country Consultant at Google Inc. Badar Khushnood and P@SHA president Jehan Ara, will evaluate the applications.
Shortlisted teams from Lahore will participate in a launch-pad event scheduled for September. Similar events will be held at Islamabad and Karachi after which a total of 15 teams from all over the country will be selected for the Plan 9 Tech Incubator. The teams – with at least two and a maximum of five members each – will start working in late October.
For three months, the participants will be paid a monthly stipend of Rs20,000 each and provided technical and business mentoring by the PITB volunteers and experts. After that, five shortlisted teams will be selected to spend a month at the Silicon Valley. They will return to the ASTP to complete their projects.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 29th, 2012.