Lahore Garrison University and Building the Next Billion Dollar Startup in Pakistan

The successful exit of Fairchild Semiconductor Corporation in the US triggered a chain reaction of companies that formed Silicon Valley – a 25-mile stretch of technology parks, offices, and some garages which now produce economic output equal to all the industrialized nations combined together.

Almost major startup ecosystems from Berlin to Beijing to Dubai are triggered by this one massive success. Building the next Silicon Valley in emerging markets like Pakistan is a daunting challenge and worth striving for.

All Pakistan needs is one startup exit of Careem’s scale. 

Lahore Garrison University (LGU) located in the Punjab metropolis city of Lahore, took up this challenge four years ago by aspiring to be first Entrepreneurial University in Pakistan.

In a short span of four years, the university has grown five times in student enrollments, six times in revenue and quadrupled its infrastructure. LGU is playing a Leading Role in Technical and Socio-Economic Development of Pakistan through Research, Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

Raising the bar of the game, LGU presented a Plan for a $500 Billion Innovation Economy in Pakistan by 2030. Based on the premise that 1.46 M Students enroll in 217 Universities across Pakistan each year, the state of Pakistan needs 2M+ jobs annually whereas public and private sectors even combined can’t fulfil this demand.

Entrepreneurship and Self-employment is the only way forward. Under this Plan the University initiated a number of initiatives including Startup Summer School 2020, Global Innovation Ecosystem Summit GIES20, and million dollars Startup World Cup Pakistan National Final. Realizing that China has 12,000 Incubators and produces 600,000 Startups per Year, we have set a goal of developing 1/5th of theirs by producing 100,000 Startups and training 1,000,000 Innovators every year.

Our Vision is to give everybody a chance to learn how to build a business. And be part of Pakistan’s journey towards building a $500B Knowledge Economy by 2030. 

400+ aspiring entrepreneurs from across Pakistan were trained through Startup Summer School 2020 – a roller coaster ride of entrepreneurship with Center for Global Innovators (CGI) and LGU, where participants learned “ How to transform Ideas into Building a Business in 4 Weeks”, in an online Startup Summer School in-collaboration with National, and Global Organizations. 

It was followed by Global Innovation Ecosystem Summit #GIES20 from 24–28 August 2020 and brought thought leaders from around the Globe to Pakistan in an exciting Online Week and discussed how Silicon Valley innovates to continue to be ‘The Silicon Valley’?, its unique traits that helped it to acquire and maintain its pioneer status.

It brought an Exclusive virtual Workshop by “Innovation Minds” from Silicon Valley Innovation company, USA. Thought Leaders in 100+ Keynotes, Panel Discussions and Workshops at the Summit discussed innovative strategies to build a vibrant Innovation Ecosystem for Post COVID19 economic growth of Pakistan. 

Startup World Cup Pakistan National Final – was organized on 28th August at LGU, on the closing day of Global Innovation Ecosystem Summit #GIES20. Federal Minister for Science & Technology Mr. Fawad Ch was Chief Guest.

It is worth mentioning that the Cup is world’s largest startup competition. Two National Winner teams S-Tech & Aether will represent Pakistan at Global Stage of Startup World Cup for $ 1 million investment prize at the Grand Finale in Silicon Valley, USA in May 2021.

Geographically positioned at the intersection of South, Middle and Central Asia – Pakistan has a rich history and a bright future. Growth in the knowledge economy is founded on discovery and innovation, in which university research has a central role. Stanford University helped create Silicon Valley that has created a $5 Trillion of wealth, therefore Universities can play a large than life role for economic development of countries and regions.

Post COVID-19 world economy will be deglobalized, with decline in remittances and challenges with traditional export markets – Pakistan needs to embrace Innovation Economy for faster economic recovery. We appeal all to Join us on a mission to build a $500Bn Knowledge Economy and make Pakistan among Top-50 Innovative Nations.

CGI and LGU are building an Impactful Startup Ecosystem in Pakistan and we are looking to collaborate with the stakeholders from Government, Policy Makers, Legislators, Universities, Development Sector, Impact Investors and Startup Incubators/Accelerators.

About the Author: Maj Gen Obaid Bin Zakria, is Vice-Chancellor, of Lahore Garrison University — a leading entrepreneurial university in Pakistan. He can be reached at: [email protected] 


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