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April 23, 2021

Incubation centres and the economy

Opinion

April 23, 2021

The global economy has experienced numerous changes, ranging from technological advancements, unique innovations, globalization, etc. This has led to the need to improve the levels of business or entrepreneurship skills which plays a vital role in the development of the economy, globally.

The business incubation centers aim to create an environment that is conducive to help the growth of small businesses. Its major objective is to build up, maintain and develop these businesses by supporting them with the necessary assistance in innovation, technically and financially.

However, incubation is a sure way of assisting local entrepreneurs who have creative ideas about entrepreneurship but lack sufficient funding to start their businesses. The incubators have proven to be a sure way of boosting economic development. This practice started in the United Kingdom in the 1970s.

In the US, it has been used to link partnerships between businesses and universities by developing and encouraging scientific innovations. It has also been used to increase the growth of businesses through specialized knowledge and has assisted in the retrieval and rescue of already ruined businesses.

Therefore, the incubation centers have three common goals: generating employment, creating the growth of small businesses, and diversifying the local economy.

Meanwhile, the history of incubation centers in Pakistan dates back to 2005 at the National University of Science and Technology, Islamabad. Various business incubation centers are already working successfully in Pakistan. In 2016, there was a surge in the growth of entrepreneurship and many supporters provided mentorship and keen investors who supported the startup financially.

Reports of the British Council in Pakistan said, "In partnership with the universities, we expect to improve encouragement and coaching to at least two hundred and fifty social enterprise beginners through the incubation centers, and it’s expected that 50 of these will become sustainable and successful businesses."

One of the challenges that has been observed in Pakistan is that startups usually move from one incubation center to another, and it gets difficult to keep a track of it, because of there being no central database available.

In this context, we are going to look at the major incubation centers in Pakistan, the start-up groups working together in the centers, and how to improve them.

There are many incubation centers in Pakistan. But the best centers for Pakistan's entrepreneurs to formulate innovative business ideas, develop the ideas in order to grow the business are as follows: IBA AMAN-CED is an outstanding member from the long list, judging from its contribution and mission to the development. Its impact cannot be limited to IBA learners alone. However, the effect is felt even by the larger community as its focus is to change the orientation of entrepreneurs towards their aspirations. AMAN-CED's main purpose of existence is fashioned to support job opportunity, income, and revenue for Pakistan's economy.

The Sindh Research Incubation Center has been launched by the IST department, Government of Sindh in collaboration with the Center for Information & Communication Technology, IBA which in turn is paving the new wave for technology advancement in the incubation sector. The purpose of the incubation center is to provide the startups in the IT sphere with the basic amenities and provide the encouragement they need to be confident in what they are doing.

Plan9 is an incubation center located in Lahore, Punjab. The Microsoft Innovation Centre is another center, and its office is located in Lahore. The Technology Incubation Center, NUST is a simple yet effective center which is one of the best incubation centers in Pakistan, and is an initiative of the National University of Science and Technology. SMEDA (Small and Medium Enterprise Development Authority) is in Lahore. Invest2Innovate is located in Lahore, Islamabad and Karachi. The Social Innovation Lab is in Lahore. The Incubator by the Ghulam Ishaq Khan Institute. The LUMS Center for Entrepreneurship was ranked number one in Pakistan by the GUST Accelerator Report in Asia and Oceanic Region and is in Lahore. Then there’s the Pasha Fund in Karachi.

It is no news that institutions that assist entrepreneurs to grow their businesses at the initial stages are start-up incubators and are essential in the economic development of any country.

In Pakistan, the 'Be Your Own Boss' term has given a huge rise in the number of graduates venturing into the entrepreneurial world and creating their start-ups. Start-ups face a lot of challenges at the initial stages of their mission.

However, the number of public and private incubators in the country had risen unexpectedly. These establishments have assisted in the formulation of a start-up from its ideal initiation. The aforementioned startup incubation groups are scaling through the economic crisis effectively even in the time of the great pandemic.

Some best practices are of great importance to the incubation industry. Depending on the differences associated with any country of study, there are three dimensions of the incubation industry that are vital for its success.

The first dimension is the finest exercise for incubation development and monitoring which includes the positioning, methods and long-durability of the incubator and its private organization and government organization.

The second is the finest exercise for the Incubation Process; it includes the recognition, the incubation and the outlet mechanism employed by the incubator for customers industries.

The third one is the finest exercise for Presentation Assessment; it involves the monitoring and evaluation process employed to monitor the performance of the incubator and its activities in ensuring the growth of businesses.

Incubation centers also have challenges just like benefits. One major problem of incubation is that most entrepreneurs are first-timers.

So here is detailed information on how to improve incubation centers, most especially as a startup: creating a suitable environment for the growth of business by fostering and supporting innovations. Exposure to networking opportunities through mentorship programs and training. Providing a free or low-cost workspace that decreases expenses while the business is thriving. Promoting the business by attending business development programmes such as business and technology curriculum, marketing and networking, access to investor, workshops, and committee discussions.

Giving entrepreneurs free permits to devices and amenities like internet connection, administration, support, and production equipment, etc. Also, granting access to privileges that can boost the businesses, including office spaces and services, mentorship, expertise, influence, and sometimes capital.

Entrepreneurship education has become an unavoidable necessity. This is because it will help build a human fortune for the upcoming era.

An aggregate of 10 private and public universities in Pakistan are operating the business-companies centers in their premises successfully. They are helping start-up organizations to competently establish their profession, therefore empowering them to create jobs, generate proceeds, reconstruct students' creative career ideas into full-fledged businesses, etc.

In conclusion, these incubation centers are playing an important role in educating and inculcating an entrepreneurial culture among students and encouraging them to be job providers instead of job seekers. This is what Pakistan and other countries of the world need for their economic development – job providers.

It is recommended that there should be collaborations between incubation centres. This will be helpful in the long run for the growth of the country. Also, sharing knowledge and projects will be helpful. Therefore, start-ups can also be facilitated to go global and become billion-dollar companies and incubators will get the chance to be part of the international stage and can raise good money as well.

The writer is director of the Centre for Information and Communication Technology at IBA.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @imranbatada