After graduation I worked in the tech startup ecosystem in Pakistan for a few months. As a young, awe-eyed Pakistani who had just graduated from college, I often discussed how policy makers should step back and empower entrepreneurs to create and disrupt markets. I imagined that policymakers came up with outdated ideas and stood in the way of tech entrepreneurs who were determined not only to disrupt existing markets, but also to create new ones with their innovative products and approaches. I have seen entrepreneurs create jobs, introduce new technologies and foster a culture of experimentation and learning in their communities. It was only fair to justify why the Pakistani government should take a step back if it was not able to update its public policy to keep pace, but I had missed a major point.
For innovation to drive the economy, government does not need to stand back, but rather assume an enabling leadership position to support technology-driven economic development. Or at least that’s what Mariana Mazzucato, also known as the scariest economist in the world, argues in his work. Her book The Entrepreneurial State to Mission Economy: A Moonshot Guide to Changing Capitalism, she presents evidence on how it is high-risk, early-stage public funding in research and development that has driven the development of technology and innovation in the United States. the economy of states.
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How should the government work on tech entrepreneurship?
If the state encourages and rewards risk-taking and innovative ideas, it is only a matter of time before technological entrepreneurship and innovation take off and act as an instrument to boost productivity and generate revenue. best results for the country. For this to happen, governments of the future must be enterprising, mission-oriented, and daring risk-takers, who also support and advocate for the people who lead the way in generating new knowledge in an economy. Since technological entrepreneurship and innovation are integral parts of a knowledge-based economy, it is imperative that the state works collaboratively with the private sector to encourage and facilitate risk-taking and experimentation for growth. economic.
This is where the new Special Technology Zones Authority (STZA) comes into operation in Pakistan. It is undeniable that technological innovation is the main engine of development growth in the 21st century. Today, it is seen as one of the most important and obvious policy tools for transforming the economy and export base from a low-tech into a high-end, value-added economy. The ability to leverage entrepreneurs and knowledge workers to innovate is a key tool that some developing countries have relied on to move forward and produce the goods and services required by global markets; thereby adding essential jobs and reducing poverty.
From Zhongguancun (Z-Park) in China, which has grown into a super cluster of major Asian entrepreneurs, to DaedeokInnopolis in South Korea and Sichuan Hi-Tech Innovation Park in Singapore, they have all played a crucial role in the economic boom. and technology of their respective countries. prosperity in competition with the rest of the world. Combined with vibrant universities and nearby venture capital firms, these superclusters have produced successful start-ups and hosted manufacturing and R&D plants for some of the world’s largest tech companies.
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Understanding STZA and the way forward
Perhaps the main reason for the rise of these innovation clusters is that the role of government is to act as a supporter, facilitator, cheerleader, advocate and investor in tech entrepreneurship and innovation. . In light of the success of Global Technology Zones, the Government of Pakistan established STZA with a mandate to provide world-class digital and physical infrastructure by establishing Special Technology Zones (STZ) and putting Pakistan on the map. global technology.
Special Tech Zones are meant to be an ecosystem of knowledge in a geographic plot that includes tech companies, startups, R&D facilities, universities, incubators, and other facilities. Respective actors take advantage of tax incentives, build strong links with each other and participate in knowledge-intensive activities for the common goals of technological entrepreneurship and innovation which ultimately contribute to socio-development -economic of the country.
The Authority hopes to uphold a customer-centric mindset in government, translating red tape into a red carpet experience for its relevant stakeholders. It will provide businesses with a direct link to government through its one-stop-shop, alleviating bureaucratic hurdles and acting as a one-of-a-kind, customer-oriented public authority. Ultimately, STZA must show that the state must be the leader by betting on its talents and helping them to grow, prosper and flourish in today’s world.
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From the United States to China, it is state funding and policies that are driving the rise of some of the world’s greatest innovators and companies. Mazzucato has also argued in his work that governments have played the role of major investors in innovation to drive the growth of their respective knowledge economies. If Pakistan is to give birth to the greatest innovators of tomorrow, it is time for the government to take the lead in investing in its talent. With the support of provincial governments, STZA is a strategic initiative through which the government can pave the way for technology-driven economic development.
The author works as the Director, Links and Publications at the Special Technology Zones Authority (STZA) in Pakistan. She holds an undergraduate degree in Social Research and Public Policy from New York University. She tweets to @ malik_warda7. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.