The University of Agriculture in Faisalabad has launched a Business Incubation Center in partnership with the Competitive Support Fun of USA and the Higher Education Commission Pakistan. As an agricultural university, the center will focus on ideas within the industry itself, and try and launch new and innovative products being created by their students and faculty into profitable ventures.
Vision and Objectives
“To develop an entrepreneurship culture and capacity by creating knowledge based enterprises, thus upgrading Pakistan’s economic competitiveness.”
The Business Incubation Center wants to promote innovative research based initiatives. This will be done by promoting networking between academic, R&D and the private sector, by providing entrepreneurs with the resources and knowledge they need to get started, and by providing management and technical guidance to startups. They will also provide startups with laboratories, libraries, IT infrastructure and technological mentorship.
The criteria mentioned on the website are quite interesting because there are requirements specifically for the applicant (and not just the business idea). For example, the individual must not have been convicted in any civil/criminal case, must not be a loan defaulter and must have good repute. I’m not sure how that last one is tested.
Anyway, the remaining criteria are fairly straightforward. They ask that at least one person be devoted full-time to the venture. The team must have an understanding of the market and the competition. A pre-feasibility study is required, as is strong growth potential and scalability. It must be an innovative concept, with potential to be patented, and the applicants must have relevant professional and educational experience.
A straight forward application is available on the website, along with all the information an applicant could need.
Facilities Provided by the Business Incubation Center
Beyond the laboratories, libraries, and IT infrastructure, the BIC will also provide help in preparing feasibility and attract funding for the project (a maximum of PKR 0.5 million). They will work with the management team to create business and marketing plans, help them find the right market for their product and help with any administrative and legal issues that come up. They will also help the team patent the product and protect their intellectual property rights.
The incubator provides access to faculty, but only up to 40 hours a month. After that, the incubatee will have to pay per hour for consultant hours.
The startup is considered a graduate once it meets this criterion:
- Has spent 18 months at the incubator
- Has achieved milestones set forward in business plan
- Incubator can no longer fulfill startup’s space requirement
- Fails to meet quarterly targets twice in one calendar year
- Review committee decides project is no longer viable
- Incubatee violates tenancy agreement
Products Ready for Commercialization
When launching the Business Incubation Center, the University first sent a list of innovative products that were in development to a consulting firm based in Lahore. Here are just a few products ready for commercialization.
Hydro Vaccine – A local vaccine for poultry against a common disease which is cheaper than the imported vaccine currently being used.
Texturized Vegetable Protein – This is commonly used by vegetarians abroad as a source of protein. It can help with the protein deficiency being faced in Pakistan.
Aquatic Fish Feed – This environmentally floating fish feed hopes to increase feed conversion ratio and also decrease water pollution which is caused by conventional feeds.
Intermittent Poultry Feeding System – A reliable automatic feeding system which can help poultry farmers avoid under and over feeding.