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ISLAMABAD: During the current desperate economic period, the National Science and Technology Park (NSTP) SEZ committee in its third meeting approved the entry applications of three new enterprises, having considerable FDI, indicating the confidence of the foreign investor in Pakistani tech startups.

After the launch of the NSTP, Islamabad, as a Special Economic Zone (SEZ) its colonisation began with the entry of R&D-based enterprises both local and foreign with 25-plus companies already being awarded the Zone Enterprise Status in the committee’s first two meetings in the year 2022.

The applicants include AlfaBolt, a fintech company with product Nomad an easy payment platform and AlfaBolt Analytics which helps businesses identify actions that drive user value, OrbitEd (Cygnus Creative Software Pvt Ltd), an ED Tech company developing an eLearning platform for Virtual Reality (VR) for training apps for enterprise business and Augmented Reality for STEM education and, PriceOye, an e-commerce company developing marketplace for consumer electronics. PriceOye has recently raised seed funding from scores of investors, including PayPal founder Peter Thiel.

The startup closed a $ 7.9 million seed fund and was backed by BeeNext, DG Daiwa, Mantis VC, HOF Capital, Palm Drive Capital, and Atlas Ventures, in addition to previous investors Fatima Gobi Ventures, SOSV, and Artistic Ventures. Orbit-Ed, a female-led ed-tech startup raised a $ 500,000 investment from Silicon Valley investor, Boost VC, bringing their total pre-seed funding to $ 800,000. All in all, these companies will be bringing in foreign investment of US 8.5 million dollars for the production of their respective products/solutions. 100 plus quality direct and indirect jobs have been created by these companies.

The applications for zone enterprise entry and allotment of land/offices were processed via SEZ’s One Window Operation designed by the Federal Board of Investment for the facilitation of investments in the country and to ensure ease of doing business. Along with the allotment of land/offices, these enterprises are now entitled to SEZ’s benefits, including customs duties and tax exemption under the SEZ Act, 2012.

Award of the status will give import duty and income tax exemptions to these enterprises which will catalyse their transformation into a national and regional success, which in turn will uplift the socioeconomic environment for the masses by way of rapid production of disruptive technologies and will help improve the nation’s Global Innovation Index standing.

The National Science Technology Park is a project established by the National University of Science and Technology (NUST), that was awarded the SEZ status in the 6th meeting of the Board of Approvals, held on 7th October 2020, under the chair of the prime minister. The project is located inside the existing NUST Campus at H-12, Islamabad.

The SEZ aims to catalyse economic activity in the country and develop a knowledge-based multi-industry cluster including segments of the IT and telecommunications, engineering, biotech/biopharma, banking/financial services, defense technologies, power, and automotive industries.

The synergies will yield technology enhancement, development of efficient systems, and resolve the issues of the industry through research and development and production of goods and services compatible globally and beneficial to the national economy. The members of the SEZ committee while appreciating the uniqueness of the NSTP, unanimously resolved that the propagation of the hi-tech industry through R&D is the need of the hour to bring the industrial base of Pakistan at par with the countries in the region.

The third committee meeting was chaired by AVM Dr Rizwan Riaz (retd), Pro-Rector (RIC) NUST and VP NSTP, with officials from federal and district administration in attendance. Manager SEZ, Lt Col Shakeel Ahmad Shah (retired) attended the meeting on behalf of the Board of Investment.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

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