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The interim government has approved a new program BridgeStart, to facilitate Pakistani startup incubation and acceleration.

The development was shared by Dr Umar Saif, Caretaker Minister of IT & Telecom, and Science & Technology, in a post on social media on Saturday.

“Great news for Pakistani startups with global ambitions,” said Dr Saif.

“We have approved a new program called BridgeStart which will fund 100 startups each year to be incubated/accelerated in any of the top 40 incubators/accelerators all over the world,” he said.

Dr Saif said that through BridgeStart, the government will provide the startups, which can qualify for these top 40 international programs, with funding of up to Rs5 million.

“You just need to be good enough to qualify — we will take care of the rest. Go conquer!” he exclaimed.

Sharing his thoughts on the abovementioned programme, the interim minister stated: “From our experience at Plan9 and our eight National Incubation Centers (NIC), we observed that startups which were able to make it to incubators such as YCombinator, Capital Factory, 500 startups etc grew much more rapidly as they were able to successfully tap into a more developed ecosystem and sources of funding.

“However, a lot of startups could not be part of such a program due to lack of resources for travel, lodging and other expenses in a program abroad,” he added.

Last month, the interim government formally launched the ‘Pakistan Startup Fund’ (PSF) under which the government would invest up to Rs2 billion a year in the sector.

The PSF is structured as an equity-free capital to help close a VC (Venture Capital) round for a startup.

“If you are a startup in Pakistan and a foreign VC is evaluating your startup for a $1 million investment, the VC only needs to invest $700,000 — the Pakistan Startup Fund will give you a grant of $300,000 to help close the round,” Dr Saif had said while explaining the PSF.

“PSF is designed to lower the risk for international investors to invest in Pakistani startups; once we have written you a cheque, we won’t hassle you at all .. betting on you and your VC investors to drive your success,” he added.

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