Good day to you all.
Here’s the second episode of our weekly feature: the Weekly Tech Trends Review. Covered in this feature each week are our best trends pick from the national and international tech and business frontiers.
Your suggestions, critique & feedback all are welcome.
Period covered: December 3 – December 9, 2016.
1. Eventful Week For Pakistani Startups:
i. Pakistan’s Brilliant Haul at APICTA 2016 Awards
Pakistan bagged 3 Golds and 6 Silvers at the Asia Pacific ICT Awards 2016, which made it rank fourth in overall award count, beating economic powerhouses like Australia, Thailand, Singapore, Japan and China.
Leading the way were students from NUST, who won gold for their project Clinical Decision Support System for Diagnosis of Movement Disorders. Another group, also from NUST, won gold for their Analysis of Optical Coherence Tomography Image for CDSS research and Development project. Wondertree, a startup from P@SHA’s Tech Incubator The Nest i/o also won a gold.
28 teams from Pakistan had participated in the 16th annual APICTA Awards in Taipei from Dec 2-5, 2016, competing against 267 teams from 17 economies across the Asia Pacific.
APICTA Awards, an international awards program that recognizes innovation and creativity in the IT sector, and is also a global platform for new business opportunities and exposure to venture capitalists and investors.
ii. TerraBiz’s 1st Pakistan Mergers & Acquisitions Conference 2016
In collaboration with KPMG as a knowledge partner, TerraBiz held Pakistan’s first M&A moot (PMAC16) on December 7, 2016 in Karachi. The conference aimed to bring together over 250 eminent participants comprising chartered accountants, CFAs, investment bankers, financial advisors, lawyers and transaction services professionals, private equity players, business owners, corporate development and M&A teams.
The conference had sessions dedicated to themes: Insights from the global trends in M&A and their relevance for Pakistan; Pakistan as a Destination for Investment; Achieving Growth through M&A; Key Aspects of the Regulatory Regime for Banking Sector M&As and the role of advisors in M&A transactions.
iii. National Incubation Center Accepting Applications For Its Incubation Program
The National Incubation Center (NIC) on December 8, 2016 announced receiving applications for its incubation program for start-ups seeking seed funding. The NIC incubation program is being supported by the Ministry of Information Technology and Telecom (MOITT), National ICT R&D and Mobilink-Warid.
NIC will provide state of art facilities to help local entrepreneurs in diverse regions of the country to move ideas to market, to support the creation and expansion of startups and to provide early-stage seed funding. The Center will provide start-ups with a free-of-cost work space, incubation, acceleration (Jazz xlr8 program), go-to-market opportunities, and access to millions of telecom users. It will also provide startups with coaching, access to industry leaders, mentors and the resources needed to boost their growth. The application deadline is December 25, 2016.
iv. CresVentures Accepting Applications for Venture Funding
CresVentures, an Angel Capital firm and a subsidiary of the Crescent Group, is now accepting applications for funding. Through extensive market research and a hands-on mentoring experience, CresVentures considers itself to be the game changer for startups in Pakistan. Start-ups seeking investment, resources, strategic advice and contacts to get off the ground and make it big, have been encouraged by the firm to submit their business ideas and proposals at the website.
v. Plan9’s CEO Baithak
In collaboration with PITB, Pakistan’s largest technology incubator – Plan9 launched CEO Baithak on December 9, 2016 at the Arfa Software Technology Park.
The event designed as a series of regular program is meant to create a dialogue between industry experts and the young entrepreneurs. The event invites budding entrepreneurs to share their business ideas with experts and influencers. Plan9’s CEO Baithak, aims at empowering young entrepreneurs and investing their powers and creativity in order to foster a creative work environment.
Mr. Miftah Ismail, the Minister of State & Chairman Board of Investment, was the guest speaker at the launch event.
2. KSE-100 Reached Its Highest Ever Mark
On Friday, December 9, 2016, Pakistan Stock Exchange KSE-100 hit a record high and reached its highest ever level of 45,490 points. Bulls conquered the charts and the market capitalization of PSE crossed Rs. 9 trillion, increasing the market worth to $84 billion. The index closed at 45,387 points – highest ever mark for Pakistan Stock Exchange.
Lucky Cement, Dewan Motors and Dewan Cement Ltd (DCL) all hit their upper circuits. In addition to the major index propellers, Habib Bank rose to 1.48pc, United Bank 2.07pc, Mari Petroleum 5pc and Dawood Hercules 3.81pc.
3. USAID Announces $43 Million For Power Projects in Sindh
In wake of a growing power crisis and electricity shortages affecting the country’s economy, developing clean energy resources for electricity generation have become an urgency for Pakistan.
In order to utilize Sindh Wind Corridor, four wind power plants are currently under construction in Jhimpir, Gharo, Keti Bandar and Bin Qasim, Sindh. These projects have been undertaken by the government of Pakistan in partnership with the private sector as well as with cooperation by the USAID and the Chinese government. In order to support Pakistan’s efforts to expand clean energy to foster economic development, USAID announced a support of $43 million for renewable energy projects in Sindh.
USAID’s support of $43 million will facilitate the creation of a 680-megawatt link at the National Transmission and Dispatch Company (NTDC) grid station.
4. Careem Brings on Board Female Captains
In a 2015 poll by Rueters, it gave Pakistan among the top three most dangerous countries for women. Females make less than 25% of work force in Pakistan.
Given these circumstances, Careem‘s announcement to launch its first fleet of female captains has been received most warmly and is a reflective of a shift in trend regarding female work force.
Dubai based cab service operating in Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad made the announcement on December 7, 2016, welcoming seven female captains in its fleet. GM Careem, Ahmed Usman said at the occasion:
“We want to give women the same opportunities and the same chance that men have of leveraging our platform to generate healthy income.”
5. Pakistan International AirLines – World’s Most Disaster Prone Airline
In an unfortunate accident, Pakistan International Airline’s flight PK661 operating from Chitral to Islamabad on an ATR 42-500 with 47 people on board crashed this week near Havelian, some 80KM north of Benazir Bhutto International Airport.
Pakistan’s national flag carrier, Pakistan International Airlines (PIA), though makes several hit lists but all for the wrong reasons. Standing out as an outlier for poor safety record, this air crash has raised the count of PIA accidents involving fatalities to 14. Accidents without fatalities make another list.
In 2014, an international comparative study of airline safety revealed that PIA has consistently under-performed on airline safety, and it is world’s third most disaster-prone airline.
The government, especially the regulators at the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), has been negligently silent over the dismal safety records of Pakistan-based airlines.
This trend of continued exhibits of lax attitudes towards air safety is criminal and must be treated as such.
6. Rocket Internet Sold Foodpanda to Delivery Hero
In a surprise move, the publicly-listed German ‘startup factory’ and investor – Rocket Internet, announced selling off the entire global operations of Foodpanda to its much larger rival Delivery Hero. The German startup investor said the deal will increase Rocket Internet’s stakes in Delivery Hero to 37.7 percent. The transaction is subject to customary closing conditions and is expected to close prior to December 31, 2016.
The combined group is expected to process over 20 million orders per month across 47 countries, against the current 2 million monthly orders across the 22 countries.
7. Amazon Go – Out to Change The Retail Landscape
While retailers across the world are trying to step into the world of eCommerce, the eCommerce giant, Amazon has made new advances in its encroachment on the brick-and-mortar world with the launch of Amazon Go. Amazon’s first physical grocery store comes with no cashiers or check out lines. It is a new kind of store featuring the world’s most advanced shopping technology. No lines, no checkout – just grab and go! The store is expected to open to the public in early 2017.
A detailed coverage and analysis of the development can be found here.
8. Apple App Store Sales Made the Most Revenue In November
In good news at Apple, Inc. (AAPL), the company has just logged its highest monthly sales total for its App Store, according to Philip Schiller, Apple’s vice president of worldwide marketing. He posted the statement at Twitter.
November 2016 was a record breaker for the #AppStore – the highest monthly sales ever in App Store history!
— Philip Schiller (@pschiller) December 7, 2016
However, no sales and download numbers were provided, which makes it difficult to put this announcement into perspective compared with earlier milestones. According to third-party app intelligence firm Sensor Tower, the App Store saw $1.74 billion in net revenue for November worldwide ($2.49 billion gross), compared with $1.71 billion net in October.
With the highly anticipated Nintendo game, Super Mario Run, hitting next month on December 15th for the steeper-than-usual price of $9.99 USD for the fully unlocked version, Apple is likely on track to top this November record at the end of the 2016 holidays, as well.
9. Microsoft Completed LinkedIn Acquisition
Microsoft officially closed the deal of acquiring LinkedIn after deliberations for six months. The tech giant completed its roughly $26 billion acquisition of the social media company this week.
As far as users are concerned, nothing much will change on LinkedIn. Rather, they will be able to enjoy Microsoft Office features on LinkedIn. With access to that data, look for many Microsoft products, particularly Office 365 apps, to allow customers to quickly and easily view and integrate information that was previously not available to them. In an internal memo, LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner went through the areas where the two companies would be working together, and how they will in other ways remain independent.
“We’re going to focus on how we leverage Microsoft’s impressive scale and innovation to create more value for all of you.”
10. Google Opens Its Digital Assistant to Developers
In race Against Amazon’s Alexa, Google now lets developers write apps for the Assistant on Google Home. The service is akin to Amazon’s skills, but with a Google twist.
For Google, investing heavily in digital assistants that use artificial intelligence techniques is crucial: Its Assistant is the strategic centerpiece of an effort to keep its lucrative web search business relevant in an age of mobile devices and wearable gadgets. Just like its search engine sent people to the right places on the web, the company’s assistant should connect users to the most relevant and useful services.
Given that users will be able to invoke these new actions with a simple command (and without having to first enable a skill, like on Alexa), Google’s platform looks to be a rather accessible and low-friction way for developers to get their voice-enabled services to users. Google will have the final say over which actions will be enabled on Google Home.
The company says it will enable deeper integrations across verticals in upcoming releases, as well as support for purchases and bookings.
Have a great week ahead!