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ISLAMABAD: The Ministry of Planning, Development and Special Initiatives formally awarded a grant ranging from Rs5-20 million to Pakistani young innovators and entrepreneurs under Pakistan Innovation Fund (PIF) to promote innovation and entrepreneurship in the country.

The award ceremony was held at the ministry’s auditorium on Thursday in collaboration with Pakistan Television Corporation (PTV).

Federal Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiative Professor Ahsan Iqbal was the chief guest on the occasion.

The ceremony was attended by the Managing Director, PTV Sohail Ali Khan, Director Current Affairs Aon Abbas Sahi, Executive Producer Shafic Sultan, and people from different walks of life were present on the occasion.

In April last year, the Planning Ministry, under the direction of Ahsan Iqbal launched the 10 billion PIF under Public Sector Development Program (PDSP) over the period of five years to promote innovation and entrepreneurship in the country.

It is noted that since the government came into power, 15 youth development initiatives which include 60,000 internships, technical and vocational trainings for 100,000 youth, 100,000 laptops, 5,000 scholarships for students of Balochistan and former FATA, 1,000 PhD scholarships at top 100 universities in the US, 75 scholarships at top 25 universities of the world, 21 university campuses in remote districts, Rasta grants for research, 12 Seerat chairs, seven centres of excellence.

In the round of the project, total 1,000 applications were received by the ministry through a competitive process and 95 applicants have been shortlisted, while 39 projects have been awarded the grant. The thematic areas are governance, education, agriculture, health, tech startups and women entrepreneurship. In the governance category, out of total 35, two projects have been awarded the grant, in education, out of total, 179, five projects have been awarded the grant, in agriculture total six projects have been awarded the grant out of 211.

Similarly, in the health category three projects have been awarded the grant out of total, 180, in tech startups 19 projects have been awarded the grant out of total, 224 and four projects have been awarded the grant in women entrepreneurship category out of total 100.

Speaking at the ceremony, Planning Minister Ahsan Iqbal termed the project a “great success” which was on the paper a few months back but today, the first round has been implemented successfully. He said while highlighting the project that Pakistan has a “youth bulge” which must be given right direction by giving them such opportunities so that they can contribute to the country’s development.

The minister reiterated that the government is committed to providing an enabling environment to the young people. “Through initiatives like the PIF, we are fueling a culture of entrepreneurship and enabling visionary individuals to bring their ideas to life,” remarked the minister, while urging the youth to utilise their capabilities for the country’s development through innovative ideas.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

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