CEO Ideagist talks about the motivation and vision behind $100m investment in Pakistan
''The world is experiencing major scientific and technological advancements that will potentially change our daily lives in ways that we have not even imagined yet.''
A hundred and two years before I was born, Sir Syed Ahmed Khan RA, founded the Scientific Society for Muslims, offering a vision for the future for generations to come in the Indian Sub-Continent. His thoughts deeply contributed to the vision of the leaders of Pakistan’s freedom movement including Allama Iqbal and Quaid e Azam.
In order to address the multiple challenges Pakistan is facing today, it is important that to go back to our roots, and to seek inspiration from the likes of Sir Syed Ahmed Khan, who continue to inspire succeeding generations of South Asian Muslims.
Being a Pakistani, I am deeply concerned about the future of Pakistan, and that of our coming generations. I would like to see a prosperous and self-reliant Pakistan that is recognized worldwide for her thinkers, innovative entrepreneurs, and leadership in science and technology.
From Hyderabad to the US:
I have been in the technology business for the past 33 years; my journey starting from the small southern city of Pakistan, Hyderabad, moving to Bahrain in 1991, then through emigration to Canada in 1994 and finally settling down in the USA, in 2003.
There, I led the global project for zoos and aquariums, advising institutions worldwide on how to share their knowledge. The Zoological Information Management System is now in use by more than 1,200 zoos and aquariums worldwide.
In 2012, I started Bir Ventures which owns IdeaGist Platform. IdeaGist now is the largest digital incubation and innovation community platform in the world and it currently connects over 250,000 innovators, entrepreneurs, experts, investors, students and professionals from countries across the globe.
The world is experiencing major scientific and technological advancements that will potentially change our daily lives in ways that we have not even imagined yet. Countries at the forefront of scientific research are aware of the disruptive nature of emerging technologies. They are fast learning how to turn disruption to their economic advantage.
“Technopreneurship” and Pakistan:
Innovation and entrepreneurship, or as some may call it “Technopreneurship”, is at the top of agenda items for all aware nations. As part of the ongoing research we do at IdeaGist, my team did a study last year, whereby we evaluated 49 emerging technologies.
Out of these 49, our research indicated that seven technologies are going to become mainstream over the next five years. Overall, these technologies are going to have an impact of more than 50 trillion dollars on economic activity globally over the next 20 years.
Pakistan remains behind despite our heritage of innovation and contributions of Muslims in all areas of science and technology. Pakistan is sitting at a tipping point: an increasingly young population that will require education, jobs, and opportunities for a bright future in an increasingly competitive world.
The technology revolution could disrupt us in ways that we may find unnerving, or we can develop capacities in ways that could turn this disruption to our benefit. We need to decide now and harness the power of emerging technologies and free ourselves from importing from external sources: we need to develop indigenous solutions to indigenous challenges.
Pakistan’s future is bright – if we work for it:
I believe that our vision and action today will define our future tomorrow. We need to envision a future that is marked by progress and prosperity based on the application of sciences and technologies of our times and guided by the philosophy upon which Pakistan was founded.
I would like for us to believe that we have brighter future, that we need to understand what is required to be done, that we know how it can be done, and that we bring a team of highly skilled Pakistanis to execute this vision in a manner that is ambitious and pragmatic.
My hope is that our vision for Pakistan’s future would be a society that values science and is willing to further support it; a society whose members are ready to develop and execute innovative ideas for promoting welfare for all; a society that is development-focused and that supports knowledge-based businesses.
We need to use advancement in science and technology to solve our problems in creative ways. We need to use our own Pakistani talent and build our own intellectual, social, and financial capital. This vision can only be achieved with the courage that Allama Iqbal identifies as Khudi and thereby challenges us to write our own future.
Converting this vision into reality will not be easy, but it is not impossible at all. To achieve the vision, we recognize that people will have to believe in it. Even for an achievable vision that is supported by the public, it can easily be destroyed if incompetent people are given the responsibility to execute that vision. This takes strong commitment, extensive work, and patience with timelines.
The question is: are we willing to put in the work?
Considering the technology revolution and our world’s transition from the industrial age to knowledge age, we have great opportunities to use our heritage of knowledge, science, and innovation to our advantage.
We must develop new leaders that share a common vision for the betterment of Pakistan, think creatively and possess multi-disciplinary skills to bring that vision to reality. We need polymaths like we did in the past. (I invite everyone to read Waqas Khan’s book “The Polymaths” to fully understand the reference here.)
If you would like to participate in developing such a vision and think about the future of Pakistan, or if you are interested in helping others with their ideas, or if have your own ideas to develop, please join https://ep.ideagist.com.
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