Pakistan was ranked 131 out of 141 countries in a 2015 report of the Global Innovation Index. The Ministry of Science & Technology presents the following reasons for this fact:
- Low percentage of GDP devoted to science and technology.
- Low standards of science education in Pakistani educational institutions.
Despite having 10,670 PhDs in the country, Pakistan is behind in the world in terms of scientific research. Noted physicist, Pervez Hoodbhoy, has expressed disregard for PhDs in Pakistan that simply receive degrees and do no worthwhile research.
Campus Connections’ fourth session was held at Greenwich University. It was attended by Shahzad Qureshi, Chief Resource Officer Tohfay.com, Raheem Eqbal, Chief Operating Officer New Horizons and Yasir Shirazi, Founder of Parhlo.com.
From the beginning, the panelists were flooded with questions of research and innovation, and if the industry was wont to utilizing academic research or to consider it inferior to industrial research.
The panelists expressed readiness at working with students and taking their ideas forward, mentioning recent examples of encounters with students and their research projects, but also shared that most students weren’t serious about research in the country. The lack of primary data resources in the country made it difficult to rely on the internet as well. Qureshi admitted, “There is a general lack of seriousness in the attitude towards research today. Most research papers are reproduced, rewritten and regurgitated.” A group of students from a major institution had approached him to approve and sign off on their research, which he refused because he found it to be just reproduction of older work.
Yet he also mentioned the positive engagement he had experienced with the Botany Department at Karachi University. They conducted original research for him on urban forestry. Though the research took longer than intended, he was happy with the results and also paid for it. Eqbal shared that he was approached by a student nearly two years ago at a similar seminar. He had an idea for an app centered around architecture, and connecting services to build houses. Today, that app is being prepared for launch in the coming months. “It was something that we saw was needed and we went for it.” He encouraged other students to approach the industry with their research.
Shirazi added that many students, he felt, weren’t sure they would succeed due to a lack of an ecosystem. “If your research shows promise for an idea, pursue it. If an ecosystem that will help it thrive does not exist, it will sooner or later.” When questioned whether university majors in technology had scope for growth or innovation, the panelists gave examples of their own companies and their surroundings today. Qureshi said he had done his Bachelor’s in Textile Engineering, yet when he graduated, the industry was in the midst of a recession. But that didn’t stop him. He pursued other careers like Quality Assurance, and finally landed in resource development in E-commerce, a profession he hadn’t been educated in. Now, he was interested in urban forests; go figure.
Eqbal said he had recently taken a family trip to Phuket, Thailand, and found a van vendor through Google. It turned out that the vendor had just put out his WhatsApp number and built his business which now comprised of 10 vans. With a general emphasis on the access that the internet gave people, Qureshi ended the session by encouraging calculated risk taking, something he employed in his business consistently.