Over the weekend, the Punjab Information Technology Board (PITB) hosted the first installment of its Plan 9 Tech Incubator in Lahore, Pakistan. The event in Lahore was the first of several in PITB’s first national incubation competition. Plan 9 aims to promote a new wave of technological entrepreneurship and act as a catalyst by providing an environment where start-ups can thrive. The initiative is a joint effort between PITB and the Pakistan Software Houses Association for IT & ITES (P@SHA) to select the best ideas and help get them off the ground.
Teams of young entrepreneurs were encouraged to submit applications with their innovative ideas. Without regard for the stage of development, Plan 9 reviewed the submissions and in the end 30 candidates were chosen to participate in the competition. Following the structure of P@SHA’s LaunchPad program, the contest involved meeting with the country’s most experienced entrepreneurs for mentoring and workshops. Each candidate/team had an opportunity to pitch their idea to a board of seasoned businesspeople and potential investors. After two days of workshops, pitching, and cross questioning 4 teams were selected to win space in the incubator. In addition to joining the incubator, winners are awarded cash prizes and an opportunity to visit the United States for additional mentoring and meetings with international investors.
The competition now moves on to Karachi. Applications to Plan 9 are due September 20 with the event taking place September 29-30. Following the contest in Karachi, Plan 9 continues in Islamabad and returns to Lahore midway through October. Though the main goal of Plan 9 is to support bright, innovative ideas, PITB hopes that it will also serve to increase investor confidence in Pakistan’s IT sector. The contest is also meant to spark excitement, interest, and debate about the role of entrepreneurship among young Pakistanis.