Recognising Small Medium Enterprises (SMEs) as the backbone for economic activity in Pakistan, the European Union hosted a business forum to discuss strategies for enhancing trade with the European Single Market and benefit from the Generalised Scheme of Preferences Plus (GSP+). The daylong event held at a local hotel in Lahore was attended by delegates from the government, European Member States, local industry and academia.
In his keynote address, the Chairman of the National Incubation Centre Lahore (NICL) at LUMS, Saleem Ahmad, presented a compelling case for corporate innovation to enhance productivity and competitiveness. Providing a strong evidence-based case, he stated, “Pandemic-led market distortions and supply chain interruptions have provided an opportunity for innovation and technological leapfrogging. To be able to compete with game-changing newcomers, SMEs need to emulate start-up culture, upskill its human capital and embrace the entrepreneurial mindset to defend their turf and attain global competitiveness through quality and cost effectiveness. Moreover, by capitalising on innovation and technology, SMEs can help bridge the country’s productivity gap. A 2-3% increase in productivity can accelerate Pakistan’s GDP by more than 6%.”
Mr. Ahmad further detailed how SMEs should leverage incubation centers, especially NICL at LUMS, as their innovation and corporate networking hubs. Under his leadership, NICL has expanded its scope from serving as a springboard for venture incubation to focusing on mass scale human capital development through applied skills training and corporate innovation. This has been achieved via an intersection of applied research and industry involvement to solve Pakistan’s biggest problems.
EU Ambassador to Pakistan, Androulla Kaminara complimented the role of NICL in bringing the best global practices to Pakistan and creating linkages with universities for technological innovation and access to experts. She encouraged the proliferation of this model to enhance the export potential of SMEs across Pakistan.