PESHAWAR: Organised by the UNDP Pakistan, the first ever virtual Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Incubation Liaison Conference (KP-ILC) 2020 concluded Friday.

The main objective of the conference was to connect five public sector Business Incubation Centres (BICs) from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa with each other, and with relevant stakeholders— for meaningful engagement, and cross-learning. As part of the initiative, Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) were signed between National Incubation Centre (NIC) Peshawar, and five public sector universities from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, namely— University of Haripur, Haripur; Institute of Management Sciences, Peshawar; University of Malakand, Malakand; UET, Peshawar and Abdul Wali Khan University of Mardan, says a press release.

Along with young entrepreneurs from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, senior officials and representatives from the five public sector universities, NIC Peshawar, and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Information Technology Board (KPITB) participated in the conference.

“Our focus is primarily on youth employment and empowerment. The NIC Peshawar, Durshals and incubators in universities are working closely on promoting entrepreneurship for youth”, said Ziaullah Khan Bangash, Advisor to Chief Minister on Science and Information Technology, while speaking on the occasion. “The Prime Minister’s Kamyab Jawan programme is playing a vital role in serving as a strong launchpad for start-ups and new ventures.”

“Pakistan is one of the youngest countries in the world today with over two-thirds of its population below the age of 30,” said Laura Sheridan, Programme Specialist, who is heading the Youth Empowerment Programme (YEP) at UNDP Pakistan. “Harnessing and catalyzing the excluded youth’s potential is necessary through employment and entrepreneurship opportunities. The young entrepreneurs from different universities in Pakistan form an integral part of the entrepreneurial ecosystem. Their energy and their ideas need to be fostered as they will be the business leaders of tomorrow. Cross pollination of startups and of the incubators that host them is vital to the growth of the startup ecosystem.”

A panel discussion “Future and sustainability of incubators” was also organised in which representatives from KPITB, UNDP and NIC participated along with the vice chancellors of public universities present. The conversation focused on the role of incubators in the national economy, the culture of entrepreneurship in universities, best practices of incubators, and the impact and sustainability of this initiative. The role of incubators and their effectiveness was discussed in great detail. All of the members agreed that supporting and nurturing the budding incubation and entrepreneurial culture and ecosystem is essential for sustainable development.