ISLAMABAD – 22nd March 2023: The National Incubation Center (NIC) Islamabad, a collaboration between Pakistan’s leading digital operator Jazz and Ignite, has incubated 295 startups in 12 cohorts since its inception, helping attract over Rs 7 billion in investment and generating over Rs 5.6 billion in sales revenues for the Pakistani startups. These startups have also contributed to Pakistan’s economic growth by creating over 20,000 jobs.
During an interactive session today, Aamer Ejaz, Jazz’s Chief Digital Officer; Asim Shahryar, Ignite’s CEO and Parvez Abbasi, Program Director NIC discussed the impact of the NIC in promoting entrepreneurship, nurturing innovation, and strengthening the startup ecosystem in the country. The NIC also provide entrepreneurs with a platform to connect with hundreds of mentors, angel investors, and venture capital funds to develop meaningful solutions to address some of the most pressing socioeconomic challenges.
Speaking on this occasion, Aamer Ejaz said, “As Pakistan’s leading digital operator, Jazz is committed to accelerating the local startup ecosystem and driving innovation in the country. It is heartening to witness the growth these startups are bringing, and we look forward to nurturing more startups and contributing to economic growth and development.” He added, “I am confident that our partnership with Ignite will continue to inspire, enable, engage and facilitate startups ecosystem and promote entrepreneurship in the country.”
Sharing his views, Asim Shahryar, CEO Ignite, talked about the government’s vision to transform Pakistan into a digital and innovation hub to accelerate the country’s socioeconomic growth. He was of the view that the government is committed to uplift entrepreneurial skills and exposure of the youth, helping them realize their full potential. Starting with NIC Islamabad in 2016-17, Ignite has opened 7 other NICs across Pakistan in Lahore, Karachi, Peshawar, Quetta, Hyderabad, Faisalabad and Rawalpindi. These NICs have incubated more than 1,200 startups over the last 4-5 years, which have raised investment of more than Rs. 21 billion so far. He said, “Currently, we are working on opening a first-of-its-kind accelerator program and establishing Centers of Excellence for Gaming and Animation in Karachi and Lahore.”
It is pertinent to note that NIC Islamabad also houses Jazz xlr8, Pakistan’s premier accelerator program, helping startups enrolled in the program to scale and grow. Through Jazz Xlr8, 31 startups have been incubated, and 11 startups also got the opportunity to showcase their ideas and products at 4YFN Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.
Around 24% of NIC Islamabad’s startup founders are female and a flagship program, called Foundher, has been launched to facilitate them further. For female founders and staff, a day-care centre has also been established where they can leave their children while they work. The centre has won awards for its wheelchair-friendliness making it an ideal, stress-free environment to work in. It also has a state-of-the-art eye tracking usability lab called the Jazz Xperience Hub which is one of the only two such commercial facilities available in Pakistan. This commitment towards providing local startups with a dedicated platform to innovate has also resulted in attracting foreign investment.