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[ISLAMABAD] By setting up offices of research, innovation and commercialisation (ORIC) in its universities, Pakistan hopes to boost research collaboration between academia and industry, and increase the number of patent applications.

Academics are being trained in ORIC and intellectual property rights issues at a five-day workshop that began this week (23 January).

Pakistan's Higher Education Commission (HEC), that controls university research and education, in consultation with Intellectual Property Organisation (IPO) Pakistan, has plans to set up ORIC in 24 major universities.

"Right now, National University of Science and Technology (NUST), Islamabad; Agricultural University, Faisalabad; University of Engineering and Technology, Peshawar; Quaid-e-Azam University, Islamabad, and many others are equipped with ORIC, and more will be established soon," HEC executive director Sohail Naqvi told SciDev.Net.

Naqvi explained that Pakistan needs "technically sound" graduates who understand emerging trends in the knowledge economy and innovation.

ORIC will support universities’ strategic research policies; diversifying external funding; promoting entrepreneurship, technology transfer and commercialisation and strengthening of university-industry partnerships.

Mohammad Latif, director-general of research and development at HEC, said, both IPO and HEC would train academia to set up ORIC and generate employment.

NUST is already running a centre for innovation and entrepreneurship, a technology incubation centre, career and professional development centres and a science and technology ventures limited company, Latif said.    

Sajjad Ahmad Bhutta, director-general of IPO, said that collaboration would help young researchers and innovators to register their products without delay and avail of opportunities in advanced knowledge and research-based deliberations.  

Bhutta said that IPO plays a crucial role in technical capacity building for Pakistan’s industry, by facilitating its interaction with university researchers who can provide the necessary hardware, research backup, and value-addition to products through innovation.

The move to set up ORIC has drawn positive responses from industry and university students.

Tehsin Anwar Rao, chief executive officer of the Karachi-based PAKTECH Software House, who was involved with drafting the country’s copyright laws, said IPO’s approach involving HEC and industry in innovation, research and development was a "positive sign" for the country’s economy.

Osama Hassan, a chemical engineering student at NUST, said that the initiative offered scope for science researchers and innovators to turn into entrepreneurs.

"We don’t want that after being educated (we) just wander in search of jobs or work as subordinates. ORIC could provide us employment with dignity," Hassan said.

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