Welcome to DICE Foundation! Before I proceed, I would like to make a request to you – Please close your eyes and repeat the following sentence “I want to see Pakistan as one of the most socially, technologically and economically advanced and prosperous nations of the world in my lifetime”.
Does it seem like an insurmountable task, sure it does - but is it possible? Yes, definitely it is possible since many nations around the world has done it in a matter of one to two generations – we can do it as well. The question is how do we go about it and who is responsible to make it happen. The first answer which comes in our mind is that it is the job of the government. And to some extent I agree that scale of the problem is so huge that government need to play a major role in this venture – but it is also a fact that no government alone can do it – everyone in the society needs to pitch in and play their role. I always believed that expatriates around the world and privileged and successful members of the Pakistani society within Pakistan, working together can act as a catalyst in transforming Pakistan. As we look around we find Pakistanis inside and abroad have done wonders in almost every field – but why as a nation we are still lagging behind. One of the big reasons among many, we saw is lack of structured and strategic approach to promote innovation process in the country at all levels, which has been a key ingredient behind the success of major developed nations.
With that in mind, in order to provide structured and strategic platforms to promote innovations, entrepreneurship and indigenous products and use innovation as a tool to generate wealth for the nation, we started DICE program in Pakistan in 2007 and later formally registered DICE Foundation as non-profit organization in USA in 2012. DICE Foundation is a volunteer based organization run by expatriates and thought leaders within Pakistan. We have been promoting innovation process at university level and more recently at high school level, with the support of Higher Education Commission, Pakistan Council for Science & Technology, British Council, universities leadership all over Pakistan, many other government and private institutions and individuals within and outside the country. One of the main value systems we set for ourselves is that we will always concentrate on part of the glass which is full and won’t spend our energy in criticizing the empty portion of the glass. We decided to build on positives which each sector has to offer. Over course of 10+ years DICE Foundation has established innovation platforms in the major strategic areas of our economy such as energy & water, automotive, health, textile, agriculture & food sciences, information and enabling technologies, and creative art & media. Through these platforms academia, industry, government and expatriates from USA, UK, Canada, UAE and from other parts of the world have been working in unison to promote innovations through annual innovation exhibitions and competitions, providing support for the commercialization of innovations, identifying gaps and in capacity building, providing access to Pakistani businesses abroad through extensive expatriate network and also as a think tank to help government of Pakistan in policy making. Through these platforms we have also started initiatives such as ‘DICE Sharks’ to generate funds from industry, businessmen and venture capitalist to support high commercial potential innovations coming out of academia. As part of our think tank role, we have launched an initiative to establish National Innovation Basket (NIB), consisting of short, medium, and long term projects from all major sectors of the economy. We are proposing to make NIB as part of our national agenda, regardless of which political party is in government. NIB will provide roadmap for our progress towards our ultimate goal of becoming a prosperous nation through innovation and indigenous product development.
As we make progress in years to come, we also plan to take phenomenon of innovation to common public beyond educational institutes, in the form of Quarterly Innovation Jumma Bazars (Physical and virtual) in all major cities of Pakistan, where anyone be it homemaker, common man, mechanic, labor, etc. will have opportunity to show their innovative ideas, concepts and products to investors, industry and venture capitalist to invest in. We ae determined to make innovation as part of DNA of our nation. As a nation we need to start relying on ourselves. We at DICE, truly believe we can make everything in Pakistan – we can have our own car brand, our own indigenously designed and developed solar panels, wind turbines, pace makers, medical equipment, innovative technical textile products for automotive textile, bio-textile and sports textile; internet-of-things innovative products, cyber security related software, digital art service industry, technologies and talent to make Hollywood quality movies and so on. Innovations in creative art & media can also help in the social development and character building of our nation.
In the end I would like to make a humble request to expatriates all over the world, academia, industry, government, businessmen, politicians, men and women from any walk of life, etc. to become part of DICE movement and play your role in whatever capacity you can, whether you are in Pakistan or abroad. Together we can make it happen! God Bless our motherland.
Dr. Khurshid Qureshi