The Government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa establishes the provinces first incubator for biotech startups. The Directorate for Science and Technology (DoST) at the KPK Government and the Institute of Integrative Biosciences (IIB) at CECOS University of IT and Emerging Sciences have signed an agreement to support innovations in biotechnology and build local capacity for biotechnology entrepreneurship.
Under the agreement, IIB with the support of KPK Government support conduct capacity building workshops in selected regional campuses in order to train the faculty and students in innovation and entrepreneurship. It will offer these startups mentorship, laboratory bench-space, access to equipment and Rs. 0.5 to 2 million in seed funding. The applications are expected to open in early April, and startups from all over the country will be eligible to apply.
Zahoor Ul Haq, the Director of DoST said the following:
Science and Technology is a fundamental ingredient for sustainable socio-economic development and it has cross-sectoral implications as well. We are always keen to work with competent partners to attain the full potential of our department.
Dr. Faisal Khan, an Oxford-trained scientist and the Director of the Institute of Integrative Biosciences at CECOS said:
This is a bold step by the government and all credit goes to them. The global economy is already exploiting the great potential of biotechnology across different industries. This partnership will help us build a critical mass of scientists and innovators here in KP and put us on track to join the leading bio-economies of the world.’
This incubator is a further illustration of KPK’s Government to promote biotechnology in the region and with more than 70% of the Pakistani economy relying on agriculture, Pakistan cannot afford to not innovate in the field of biotechnology. Perhaps, the next steps should be to facilitate proper biotechnology education in the province. Because while the demand for civil, electrical and mechanical engineers may still be high in the country, we need biotech engineers too now more than ever.
There are already many biotech startups addressing the country’s energy crisis, like ElectroMarvel, BioVolt and BioLamp who want to make batteries and mobile chargers that are charged via bio-electro catalysis and last longer.
And it is great to see the Government of KPK supporting the efforts of its youth to make biotech a hot field of pursuit. But because biotechnology is a relatively new field in the country, the incubatees would benefit more if they are given international exposure. So overseas trips or lectures from foreign scientists would greatly increase the capacity to innovate.