Pakistan needs serious efforts to develop and implement science and technology policy for better socioeconomic development and building innovative Pakistan. Pakistan has latest S&T policy 2012 waiting attention of Government.
We present here some inputs critical to implement S&T policy in Pakistan.
1. Government Ownership and Entrepreneurial State
Historically Science and Technology is driven by state with the help of competent scientists. General Park Chung-hee of Korea picked Dr. Choe to initiate S&T led growth. President Franklin D. Roosevelt of USA picked Dr. Vannevar Bush to lead S&T growth in USA. There are such other examples indicate that S&T growth needs leadership of scientists backed by serious support of Government. We saw this demonstration when Dr. Ata-ur–Rahman was given leadership role to bring revolution in higher education, fully backed by the Government. Pakistan achieved S&T growth in 1960s and 1970s due to leadership role of the scientists. Unfortunately, after that S&T was delisted from the state priories and headed by non-scientific community.
S&T led growth also demands entrepreneurial behavior of state showing full ownership of country affairs. The blame game phenomenon can serve nothing. Pakistan stands at around 126th in innovation. This means 125 countries out of around 140 are ahead of Pakistan in innovation. The entrepreneurial state must take this as responsibility, proactively take measures and promote S&T to bring ranking down to around 50. Pakistan S&T should be governed by the board of competent experts to create dynamic culture of performance and rewards. The government needs to be entrepreneurial one and facilitate in all the aspects of innovation supply chain as discussed in following section.Building
2. S&T Incentives for Innovators
The humans are driven by incentives. The governments always design lucrative incentives to achieve its development goals. S&T in Pakistan touched the dead end due to zero incentives for innovators to solve local problems. The government must come up with very attractive incentives for the scientists having will and capacity to supply innovations for local problems of Pakistan.
Pakistan has crossed BRIC countries in the area of publishing “Highly Cited Papers”. But Pakistan did not crossed BRIC in agriculture mechanization, hybrid seeds, ICT export and other applied development areas. The scientists find incentives in publishing and not in supplying innovation to solve local problems.
Pakistan is funding research projects for five decades. The life of labor making bricks manually under the burning sun has not improved a little in last five decades.
The facial reflections of little kids playing on mud along with bricks making mothers question about R&D in Pakistan.
3. S&T Incentives for Industries/Investors
The real estate in Pakistan skyrocketed due to very high profits on investments. Private sector investments in R&D touched the bottom because there is no profit in R&D investments. Pakistan lacks regulations and legislation regarding venture funds. Industry finds insignificant incentives to pour money in R&D and spend 4-5 years to develop innovative products in collaboration with local innovators.
Pakistan needs to announce S&T incentives like zero import duty on R&D imports, reduced duty for five years on import substitution and export oriented innovative products, five years tax credit for university-born innovations and one window operation for startups/R&D venture. These kinds of incentives will attract private incentives to invest in R&D and help government to build knowledge economy in Pakistan.
4. Strengthening IP Regime
Pakistan has ignored developments in the area of IP protection. This has resulted in low motivation for technology development and commercialization. The week IP culture is worsened by the poor law enforcement and legal support. Pakistan registers patent in 6 years whereas USA grants patent in 2-3 years averagely.
Pakistan needs S&T policy related to strengthening IP organization, improving law enforcement, develop specialized judiciary system for IPR, promoting IP education from school to university, launching specialized degree program in IP management, developing human resource in IP management and fostering IP commercialization.
5. Students and Faculty Training for Technology
The faculty and students in Pakistan are not trained for technology development nor inspired to take challenges of supplying innovations. Academic system needs to shift its focus from ratta to concept based learning. The learning and teaching should shift from contents delivery and memorization to application based projects and assignments. The faculty needs to get projects from the market and assign students to work on real life problems of community and industry.
The university governance system should not allow students to pass without good skills based on real time projects. The faculty needs to be appraised for real life research based on market inputs. Faculty should be spared to interact with community and industry, spend time there and do summer internship in the fields to get training on technology development.
6. Funding for Technology
Pakistan has only one fund for technology development by HEC, which is initiated recently in 2017. Rest of the funding programs aimed to fund science and research. This caused serious weakness in the capacity of Pakistan to develop prototypes and diffuse technologies.
Pakistan needs S&T policy to initiative minimum 10 technology funds in few identified S&T priorities. These funds should be available only for prototyping and commercialization of academic research results. This funding also should be based on industry partnership and economic viability. TDF–HEC is an excellent example and needs to be replicated across 10-15 disciplines.
7. Inquiry Based Science in Schools and Colleges
The technology output is mostly expected from graduates at higher education level. Their prior academic training from school to college highly affects their performance in higher education. In advanced world, the students are trained to deal with inquiry, solve problems and discover new ways of business in previous 12 years education. In Pakistan, they are trained to memorize and they do the same when reach higher education. This inculcates blocked thinking leaving no room to think freely and independently.
Pakistan must reframe education system from ratta to inquiry based teaching and learning. The students from family to school and college should be inspired to think and develop curiosity about nature and life. They should be given such training and environment where they can challenge the existing rules of business and invent new one. This will help them to develop innovative solutions when join higher education and create new ventures to solve global problems.
8. S&T Policy as Subject in Academia
All the developed countries in the world offer degree programs in S&T policy, innovation management, technology and IP management. These countries develop own human resource to deal with S&T policy affairs. S&T policies are guided by leaders having proper education in science, technology and policy formulation process.
Unluckily, there is only one degree program in Mehran University on science and technology policy. S&T policy needs to be endorsed by HEC. HEC needs to encourage universities to launch S&T policy programs to provide trained human resource.
9. International S&T Collaborations
Pakistan yet needs to speed up its journey in science, technology and innovation through proper policy implementation and dynamic leadership. The world has made tremendous advancements in this area. Few countries started the same S&T journey 200 years before the birth of Pakistan. Few started much after Pakistan but leapfrogged the progress. Pakistan needs to learn from these countries and develop collaboration in S&T policy areas. The ideal countries would be UK, South Korea, China and USA.
Pakistan needs to launch joint degree programs on S&T policy education. Pakistan needs to make some arrangements to bring advanced technologies and build local capacity. The S&T collaborations with developed world help Pakistan learn the technology business quickly and incorporate best practices into own systems and culture.
Pakistan can increase export many times by initiating S&T collaborations with developed countries and develop own technology capacity for innovation and value addition.
10. Vocational Training for S&T
The countries have strong vocational capabilities can only rise to great innovation level. The technology business in production setup cannot be advanced unless handled by highly trained skilled workers. The precision in machining and tooling is must to produce innovation based value added products. The high standards of quality of products by advanced world rely on their sophisticatedly trained and skilled workers.
Pakistan inspite of many attempts could not make a big mark in the area of vocational training. We are yet supplying raw labor to our own industries and to international market also. The highly skilled labor can increase Pakistan foreign revenue many folds in form of remittances.
The innovation capacity of industries in Pakistan also heavily depends on technically skilled workers. Pakistan should make vocational training as top priority to provide employment also.
Rahmat Ullah, Chief Coordinator, IRP , Secretary General, South Asia Triple Helix Association, Manager ORIC, UMT – firstname.lastname@example.org -0321-4917181
 Global Competitiveness Report 2017-2018