THE PAKISTAN DEVELOPMENT REVIEW
Sustainable Incubator Management—A Case Study for Pakistan.
Information technology (IT) is impacting all spheres of human activity at an unprecedented rate. Parallel to this development, there is also an intense debate on the contribution of this technology towards productivity and growth on the one hand, and human welfare on the other, in developed and developing countries. The “Technology Based Industrial Vision and Strategy for Pakistan’s Socio Economic Development” commissioned by the Higher Education Commission (HEC) and the Pakistan Institute of Development Economics (PIDE) lays out guidelines on how to make Pakistan an economically stable and technologically advanced ‘knowledge economy’. Based on recommendations from this document, the Government of Pakistan (GoP) has made investments in infrastructure and human resource development. Sites have been allocated for IT campuses and human resources sent abroad for training. With these trained IT and engineering personnel now returning to the country, plans are underway to develop what USAID1 calls “centres of excellence, commercial research centres…or to be more concise, incubator centres.” In order to fully utilise the potential of these centres and to establish stronger networking with the universities from where these trained personnel are returning, the concept of “incubator programmes” has been floated to facilitate technology commercialisation. Although the incubator phenomenon was conceived in the 1950s, it only mushroomed rapidly in North America in the 1980s. Today, even though America has the largest number of incubator facilities in the world, most have failed to produce desired results, primarily due to poor management and lack of clear vision. This paper focuses on the development of a sustainable blue print for incubator programmes in Pakistan through proactive management and enterprise development. This model would integrate faculty, students, laboratory resources, research facilities and strategically align the objectives of these entities with the industry. Such programmes have the potential to make Pakistani students globally competitive and also diversify the income resources of incubators, hence making them less dependent upon subsidies and acting as true platforms of technological entrepreneurship, small and medium enterprises, which are considered the drivers of knowledge based economies.