Mr. Qasim Sheikh

Infrastructure for
Qasim Sheikh
National ICT R&D Fund
Funding for Innovation Focused R&D
• Innovation is the driving engine for wealth
generation, economic growth and value creation.
• Creating a formal Infrastructure to foster innovation
has challenged political entities through out the
• There isn’t even an agreed upon definition of
innovation that can become the starting point for
designing a formal structure to foster and speedup
innovation process.
What is Innovation ?
• “Incremental” innovation alleviates rate
limiting factors from value chains.
• A value chain is a network of services that
add value to a given input.
Wealth Generated by Innovation
How important is the value chain;
How important the rate limiting factor is;
How well rate limiting factors are alleviated;
At what price point are the rate limiting factors
• How long does it take to alleviate the rate limiting
factor, the value chain may have shifted or its
importance may have decreased by the time the
rate limiting factor is alleviated.
Progress Towards R&D Activities
• Over last 18 months we have made significant
progress towards nurturing an innovation centric
R&D culture in ICT related disciplines in Pakistan.
• We have
– funded 30 R&D proposals with financial commitment
of 440 million Rs.
– a backlog of more than 50 R&D proposals with
cumulative funding request of more than 1.8 billion Rs.
• Capacity limitations in carrying out applied or fundamental
R&D activities at par with international standards.
• Nationally and internationally available funds lapse due to
lack of capacity to generate and execute quality R&D
• Proposal solicitation and evaluation process at National ICT
R&D Fund shows:
– Initial quality of proposals needs significant improvement
– Proposal developers take a long time to incorporate requested
improvements in the proposals
A few examples
• “The limits of my language are the
limits of my world”
• R&D efforts measured by papers published and
impact factor do not necessarily lead to innovation.
Innovation Centric Centers of Excellence
• Create Centers of Excellence focused at Innovation
in Thematic Initiatives.
• How are these Centers of Excellence different than
such centers of past?
• Their first responsibility will be to identify, describe
and disseminate information about
– important present and future value chains
– associated bottlenecks and rate limiting factors
– research and development challenges pertaining to
removing these bottlenecks.
The Center of Excellence Concept
Create knowledge, products, processes and services that
extend state of the art in their discipline by alleviating rate
limiting factors in current and future value chains;
Develop infrastructure and capacity to train highly
qualified human resource through course work, degree
awarding programs and innovation centric R&D activities
for the selected Thematic Initiative;
Centers of Excellence must Deliver
• The success of this initiative depends crucially on
giving these Centers of Excellence clear and
coherent goals.
• R&D by definition is an expensive and a low yield
• Select Thematic Initiatives
• Create Centers of Excellence to take selected
thematic initiatives forward.
Criteria for Thematic Initiatives
1. Must present a vision that goes beyond that of a
typical grant application for a research project;
2. Must be subject to clear and objective evaluation
3. Must impact lives of common citizens in long as
well as short term by
– improving productivity of current industrial base
– creating new industries in the country;
Criteria for Thematic Initiatives
4. They should be decomposable and amenable to
incremental diagnosis, so as to allow changes
within the process to achieve them;
5. They must be ambitious and visionary, but at the
same time feasible within a predefined time frame
– in the case of Pakistan a period of ten years is
Suggestions for Thematic Initiatives
• support sustainable yield enhancement in agriculture
• provide universal, sustainable health care through
participation of private sector;
• provide universal, high quality high school education
through participation of private sector and e-learning;
• enhance productivity in SMEs in Pakistan where most of
the workforce is semi skilled or uneducated;
• sustainable traditional and alternative energy production
and distribution systems;
Salient Feature
Centers of excellence are chartered to promote innovation
through focusing on value chains and removing rate
limiting factors.
Decouple the process of awarding Center of Excellence
from the process of selecting Thematic Initiative.
Bottom up approach
Creation of Centers of Excellence based on selected
Thematic Initiative is a top down approach.
We should use wisdom of the crowds to create “Innopedia”
by copying the concept of Wikipedia.
Innopedia will be focused on describing value chains and
rate limiting factors
A few examples
• What are the technical rate limiting factors in
– Synthetic photosynthesis
– Mobile video on demand; Video based searching;
– E-learning
– Developing pest resistant grain varieties
– Developing fast foods that taste good but do not lead to
an epidemic of cardiovascular diseases and diabetes
• Once Innopedia reaches a level of maturity like
Wikipedia we can really let process of innovation