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  • Jun 29th, 2015
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The National University of Sciences & Technology (NUST) is Pakistan's No. 1 Engineering & Technology University, and is recognized as a Centre of Excellence for advanced scientific and technological research in Pakistan. Cognizant of its role in the development of Pakistan's economy, it takes pride in the quality of research, and emphasis on solution-based, industry-specific R&D. It has strong linkages with the industry, with over 150 top CEOs of the country, and productive collaboration with NUST Institutes. With an Intellectual capital and research base of 23 constituent institutions, 15,000+ students, world-class faculty, state-of-the-art laboratories and research infrastructure and international research collaboration with almost 100 institutions worldwide, it is well-placed to play its role in national socioeconomic development.

China and Pakistan enjoy excellent strategic relations. These relations are indicative of the strong friendship and brotherhood that prevails between the two nations. Enhancing science and technology (S&T) based cooperation between China and Pakistan forms a key aspect of the goal of further solidifying the association between the two countries. For realisation of this objective, NUST has played a leading role in promoting wide-ranging S&T-based collaboration with Chinese universities. As part of its focused efforts, it has entered into a landmark agreement with the Tsinghua University Science Park, or TusPark, for creating a consultative platform for construction, development and management of the National Science and Technology Park (NSTP), the first university-hosted Science & Technology Park (STP) of Pakistan, being established at NUST.

NSTP partakes of the spirit of Vision 2025 and is aligned with its cardinal pillars. It also enjoys considerable complementarities with the developmental thrust of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). NSTP in particular, and STPs in general, should be seen as related initiatives for undertaking correct and comprehensive development of Special Economic Zones (SEZs), which form an Integral part of the CPEC, as both STPs and SEZs form important components of the technology-based growth and development. The partnership between NUST and TusPark will pave the way for the incorporation of NSTP as a flagship program for S&T, innovation and higher education components of the CPEC.

University STPs have become an essential ingredient in the national innovation system of China. With over 100 science parks, China is one of the science park leaders of the world. TusPark is one of the world's largest university-based science parks; it was established in 1994 by the Tsinghua University, Beijing, China.

As Pakistan's No. 1 Engineering & Technology University, with rich intellectual capital and strong academic and industry collaborations, NUST is well placed to contribute to national socioeconomic development.

Tsinghua University; established in 1911, is one of China's most renowned comprehensive research universities, with over 43,000 registered students, 19 schools and 55 departments, and is ranked among the top 50 universities in the world. In Asia, it is ranked at 11th position, and in BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa), it is ranked No. 1. Former President of China, Hu Jintao, former Prime Minister, Zhu Rongji, and the current President, Xi Jinping, are all graduates of Tsinghua University.

TusPark covers 730,000 square meters of land with 22 buildings; it has 400 companies and provides employment for almost 35,000 knowledge workers. TusPark combines its unique technical and human resources with innovative companies and ambitious young entrepreneurs. Multinational giants like Google, Microsoft, NEC, Toyota, P&G and Schlumberger are located in the TusPark, as are large and small local companies and over 200 start-ups (new companies). Up till 2005, the tenants located inside TusPark paid close to 1 Billion Chinese Yuans (USD 142 Mlilion), and in 2007 the park made about RMB 100 Million (approx USD 14 Million) worth of profit. The total output value of TusPark is about RMB 40 Billion (approx USD 5.7 Billion). TusPark is a well-established brand in China and in the global science park industry.

Tsighua University is one of China's most renowned comprehensive research universities. It is ranked among the top 50 universities in the world. In Asia, it is ranked at 11th position, and in BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa), it is ranked No.1. Former President of China, Hu Jintao, former Prime Minister, Zhu Rongji, and the current President, Xi Jinping, are all graduates of Tsinghua University.

The NSTP is NUST's capstone program for the development of Pakistan's first university-based STP. It was conceived as a means to harness the intellectual prowess of NUST's faculty and students, exploit their innovative research potential and entrepreneurial spirit to create a dynamic knowledge Ecosystem facilitating high-tech R&D. The NSTP concept is in line with the proven models of technology clusters built around eminent universities like Stanford University in the USA, Tsinghua University in China and the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) in South Korea, to name a few. The transformation of Silicon Valley in the USA into a global hub for technology; finance and education was triggered by the establishment of Stanford Research Park. Similarly, the expansion of Daedeok Science Town or Daedeok Innopolis is owed to KAIST and that of TusPark to Tsinghua University.

NUST, with its 23 constituents, has evolved as a multidisciplinary Higher Education Institute (HEI). It lays special emphasis on building strong partnerships with the Corporate Sector. The NUST Corporate Advisory Council (CAC) as a specialized forum to enhance productive linkages with the industry; and the Global Think Tank Network (GTTN) as the first academic think tank in the country and as an international public policy research, analysis and advocacy initiative, are essential components of the overall NUST knowledge Ecosystem. Both CAC and GTTN's collaborative relationships with the Industry and Government shall be optimally utilized for the development of NSTP. The NUST Centre for Innovation & Entrepreneurship (CIE) is a comprehensive, purpose-built facility that houses the University's Offices of Research, Innovation and Commercialization (ORIC). The NUST Technology Incubation Centre (TIC) is the first University-based Incubator in Pakistan, specially created to facilitate and support the innovation engine of the university. The TIC is currently providing world class services to 28 technology start-ups, most of them formed by NUST's own alumni and faculty members. As many as 14 companies have successfully graduated from TIC so far, whereas 64 companies in total have been set up by NUST alumni. All the above-mentioned organs form critical building blocks of the NSTP.

The Feasibility Study for the NSTP is near completion. The coming years will witness creation of custom-built infrastructure to accommodate budding entrepreneurs, and provision of bespoke office space for national and international tenant firms Materials. This shall result in the creation of a unique knowledge-based Multi-Industry Cluster, drawing together the best intellectual minds, their innovative research and the latest technologies in a wide number of areas, all brought together to catalyze economic activity in Pakistan.

NSTP and Tuspark have interacted and worked closely not only bilaterally but also at various international fora, including International Association of Science Parks and Areas of Innovation (IASP), the leading global body of science parks. NSTP is also the only member science park of IASP from Pakistan.

The managing company of TusPark, Tus-Holdings Co Ltd., was established in July 2000 by upgrading the existing Tsinghua University Science Park Development Center. Tus-Holdings is a large integrated enterprise that is responsible for developing, constructing, operating and managing the park. Currently, there are over 200 companies that Tus-Holdings has directly invested in and controls, while TusPark is the flagship product of Tus-Holdings. It is today a highly experienced technology service provider with integrated business capabilities, and has become a vital force for China's new urbanization progress.

NUST's agreement with TusPark and its managing company Tus-Holdings for guiding the technology-led development of Pakistan becomes apparent when we see that in 2011, the total value creation of Chinese science, technology; and industrial parks exceeded USD 430 Billion, and that in 2013 alone, the revenue of China's high-tech industry was more than USD 1.7 Trillion.

NSTP will be the first university-hosted Science & Technology Park (STP) in Pakistan. NSTP shall create a unique Knowledge-Based Multi-Industry Cluster to catalyze economic activity in Pakistan.

A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between NUST and Tus-Holdings was signed on Saturday 27th June 2015. The MoU was signed between Mr. Jiwu Wang, CEO Tus-Holdings Co. Ltd., and Engr. Muhammad Asghar, Rector NUST. Under this MoU, both sides shall consider to set up a Consortium or a Joint Venture Company for the establishment of NSTP. This shall enable Tus-Holdings to transfer its experience of consolidated innovation space formation to the creation of NUST-NSTP, suitably modified to suit the demands and realities of innovation in Pakistan. The MoU signing ceremony was attended by Prot Ahsan Iqbal, Minister of Planning, National Reforms & Development, Government of Pakistan. Prof. Dr. Mukhtar Ahmed, Chairman Higher Education Commission (HEC) Pakistan; Mr. Kamran Ali Qureshi, Federal Secretary, Ministry of Science & Technology; and other senior functionaries of the Pakistan Government also attended the ceremony. From the Chinese side, Mr. Herbert Chen and Mr. Xiang Chen, Chief Operating Officers Tus-Holdings, and other notable members of Tus-Holdings were present on the occasion.

The agreement with Tus-Holdings is the latest in the series of cooperative Initiatives that NUST has developed since 2011 with different Chinese universities, research institutes and policy centers. The GTTN has already been running an active knowledge partnership with Tsinghua and Peking Universities as part of its China Node, having provided critical intellectual and analytical underpinnings for creating a sustainable and multidimensional cooperation with China, including the CPEC.

NSTP will help towards the fulfillment of national S&T development goals. In this regard, the broad space for cooperation provided by various agreements between China and Pakistan for scientific and technical cooperation will be utilised by the parties to the agreement.

The partnership between NUST and TusPark will pave the way for the incorporation of NSTP as a flagship program for S&T, innovation and higher education components of the CPEC

Copyright Business Recorder, 2015

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