Facebook and Pakistan’s Ministry of Information Technology & Telecom along with the National Technology Fund (IGNITE) launched the first Facebook Innovation Lab in Pakistan at a ceremony attended by policy makers and technocrats on Wednesday (3 April 2019). Located in the National Incubation Center (NIC) at the Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS), the Innovation Lab will focus on providing infrastructure access to developers, entrepreneurs and community groups enabling them to network, train and grow their expertise. It will also help developers build products and applications using emerging technology like Virtual Reality (VR).
“We are proud to launch Facebook Innovation Lab as a part of our long term commitment to support innovation and the developer community in Pakistan. Facebook is committed to building an impactful community in Pakistan and we believe it is important to support businesses, startups and the individuals who are driving innovation to grow and succeed. We are confident that through our partnership with the Ministry of Information Technology and Telecom, Ignite, National Incubation Centre (NIC) Lahore, and LUMS, Facebook Innovation Lab will not only be a unique training and innovation center, but will support a vibrant and transformative technology community in the country,’ said Jason Lin, Head of Startup Programs (APAC), Facebook.
This is the first innovation lab launched by Facebook in Pakistan. The Lab will give startups the infrastructure and the access they need to refine and scale their business models so they can succeed in Pakistan and scale internationally. The lab not only provides a showcase of the latest technology, but participants will be matched with mentors, as well as connect with Facebook’s global and exclusive experts, industry leaders, and specialists in product innovation, business growth, and data protection.
Attending the launch, Yusuf Hussain, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Ignite said, “Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR) and Artificial Intelligence are rapidly expanding and will be major sectors of the future. Ignite’s partnership with Facebook, one of the world’s leading AR/VR development platform, will help launch this crucial 4IR technology in Pakistan in a big way.”
Participants will access FbStart, a global program designed to help start-ups build and grow their businesses. Finally participants are encouraged to connect and support other developers and entrepreneurs through Developer Circles, a community-driven program for developer collaboration.
One of the founders who shared how technology, especially VR, helped their vision was Saadan Ahmed, Founder and CEO of Vanilla Arcade, a company which offers immersive and interactive experiences to advertisers and educational institutions. “AR/VR has allowed us to connect the youth of Pakistan to experience the culture and history of their country in the most immersive way possible. It is the future of storytelling and education,” said Ahmed.
Other startups at the launch included Advertelligent who help support retailers understand foot traffic and Vcella who use technology to connect Pakistan’s artisans to the rest of the world through a virtual marketplace.
Facebook Innovation Lab is aimed at encouraging South Asia’s spirit of entrepreneurship and startup growth. In addition to the program the lab will also host initiatives such as housing community events and workshops and providing trainings for startups. Another key feature of the lab is that it welcomes startups and entrepreneurs based in Pakistan who would like to deep dive into the emerging technology space.
LUMS Vice Chancellor, Dr. Arshad Ahmad said, “Innovation is the backbone of cutting edge research and quality teaching at LUMS. Facebook Innovation Lab Pakistan provides leverage to our core offerings and enables us to achieve another level of training and mentor-ship – it promises to create social capital amongst young entrepreneurs that will drive their ideas with no boundaries.”