Entrepreneurs can change the economy and the future of a country with their mind blowing ideas and businesses. The young generation of Pakistan is coming up with some unique ideas and startups within the past years.
Lahore having a population of 10 million is the central technology hub of Pakistan. It consists of some top-class business and technology institutes which are producing very talented business men and women. The Arfa Sofware Technology Park in Lahore is the heart of the software industry of the country. It is also home to many incubators and accelerators which are working for the assistance and mentorship of the budding entrepreneurs. The Punjab Information Technology Board PITB has taken many positive initiatives for the support of the entrepreneurship and the new startups of Pakistan. Similarly, many other organizations and individuals have come forward to form many incubators and accelerators for the mentorship of these talented business minded people. You can find a list of top-class incubators, accelerators, and co-working spaces in Lahore which have polished many brilliant ideas into a successful business. Here is a brief description of each of them.
Plan9 is Pakistan’s first technology startup incubation program run by Punjab Information Technology Board (PITB). Being the country’s largest technology incubator, it provides space, mentorship, electricity, legal, and financial support to the budding entrepreneurs of Pakistan. The financial aid is in the form of a monthly stipend of 20,000 rupees for six months.
Plan9 was launched in August 2012 by Dr. Umar Saif, Chairman PITB and since then, it has incubated over 102 startups. It provides the mentorship of many renowned technology entrepreneurs of Pakistan as well as the assistance of foreign investors. Located at the Arfa Software Technology Park in Lahore, Plan9 has now evolved into a whole ecosystem for technology innovation and entrepreneurship.
2. MIT ENTERPRISE FORUM:
MIT Enterprise Forum is a global organization affiliated with Massachusetts Institute of Technology through MIT Technology Review. It is a network of worldwide chapters working for the growth of technology, business, and entrepreneurship in different countries. Pakistan being the 7th chapter of the program, benefits from the Entrepreneurship Promotion Programs run by MITEF for the economic well-being of the country.
MITEF connects the entrepreneurs to different programs, some of which are look competition, business acceleration program, and spinoff center. The new businesses in the market can also get access to unique MIT resources, professors, and different centers. Initiated in 2007, MITEF has so far mentored almost 150 to 200 startups and helped a majority of them to launch their business in U.S. Nowadays; it is focusing on the female entrepreneurs of Pakistan and providing them support and assistance to excel forward.
3. LUMS CENTER FOR ENTREPRENEURSHIP:
LUMS Center for Entrepreneurship (LCE) is a business accelerator and startup incubator working as an independent center under the LUMS umbrella. It offers fully furnished office space, utilities, internet facility, and a lot of LUMS resources. It was primarily built for the purpose of allowing more and more university students to explore their potential and to polish their brilliant business ideas. But now, LCE has evolved into a platform that acts as a bridge between the budding entrepreneurs and investors. It supports the startup ideas that are presented at different entrepreneurial events throughout the country. These budding entrepreneurs get the support and mentorship of the seasoned management team at LUMS.
One of the popular programs run by LCE is the “Foundation” which accepts applications from all over the world for a four-month long, intense business incubation and acceleration program. The successful ventures are further presented at an investor conference upon graduation.
4. MICROSOFT INNOVATION CENTER:
Microsoft Innovation Center was inaugurated by Microsoft Pakistan at the Arfa Software Technology Park with the collaboration of Government of Punjab. It offers state-of-the-art technology facilities to foster the innovation and technological development of Pakistan. MIC provides a comprehensive set of programs to the students, entrepreneurs, startups, IT professionals, and software developers. It is the software ecosystem which connects the budding entrepreneurs and world-class experts.
Furthermore, MIC allows the entrepreneurs to test, pilot, and embed the latest technologies and facilities available on their ideas and products, enabling them to come forward with their successful ventures.
5. SOCIAL INNOVATION LAB:
Social Innovation Lab is an international level early-stage incubator for the startups founded in October 2013. It is an innovation center and a testing ground for the budding entrepreneurs where they can get innovative solutions to their problems. The basic aim of SIL is to boost the social enterprise in Pakistan by partnering with institutions and networks like LUMS, Helping B, The Talloives Network, and SJM.
The incubator behind SIL is “The Hatchery” which provides an incubation cycle consisting of four phases starting from idea generation to implementation. The young entrepreneurs in the market can learn from the specially designed curriculum and mentorship programs at SIL.
6. PLAN9 TECHHUB:
Plan9 TechHub is the premier co-working space in Lahore for the freelancers where they can come and work with ease, comfort, and a sense of belonging. It offers a fully equipped working space for the young freelancers to polish their skills without any hurdles. They are provided free space and ample time along with all the basic facilities like internet and power supply. These services are free of cost since it’s a government initiative, but the competition for registration is intense, though. The applications submitted are scrutinized by a board of advisors and experts after which the shortlisted applicants are given access to Plan9 TechHub.
7. OFFICE SPACE:
Office Space is the first class Virtual Office and Co-Working desk space for all those entrepreneurs and businesses who find it difficult to work from home due to lack of different facilities or who don’t have the enough finances to set up their office spaces. It was established in the year 2013 and provides a well furnished working space to the newly developed IT companies and individuals. It works on the concept of “Shared Office” where you can also get access to meeting rooms and get linked to the outside world through high-speed internet facility.
You can get your personal office space by making a reservation through the online booking process and start enjoying your freedom and flexibility of your booked space.
8. INVEST 2 INNOVATE:
Invest2Innovate is a startup accelerator program founded by Kalsoom Lakhani in the year 2011. It focuses on the startups that have a measurable social impact. It finds and trains entrepreneurs for the i2i accelerator, which is an annual four-month program providing support to the startups.
Invest2Innovate has accelerated over 21 startups in Pakistan. Rather operating in a vacuum, i2i is an eco-system approach working in collaboration with all the stakeholders. It provides the businesses access to capital and strengthens the policy environment for them.
After the success of Plan9 incubator, PITB launched the country’s largest technology accelerator by the name of PlanX. It is located at the Arfa Software Technology Park and provides support to the mid-age startups. They can get access to funding channels, mentors, and global exposure. Unlike Plan9 incubator which uses a building approach, PlanX provides expansion and financing to the startups which already have a product and a few customers. It is headed by none other than the famous technology entrepreneur and Chairman PITB, Dr. Umar Saif.
This was a brief introduction of the incubators, accelerators, and co-working spaces of the Lahore city. Please let us know in the comments if we miss out any other such venture or any important detail.