Start-ups launch diverse, high-impact solutions at NICL, LUMS

At the culmination of its eighth cohort, the National Incubation Center Lahore (NICL) at LUMS held its flagship Investor Summit, bringing together seasoned investors, inspiring entrepreneurs, and corporate innovators.

“We have now graduated eight cohorts from Lahore and Quetta in a short period of time, by dynamically adapting to extraordinary circumstances, transforming our offering, and launching several new initiatives such as programmes in partnership with Saarland and Stanford,” said Saleem Ahmad, Chairman NICL and NIC Quetta. “At the Investor Summit today, I am proud to see the transformation and growth in these remarkable young entrepreneurs. Our aim at NICL is to continue supporting such talent and connecting with industry and academia to generate lasting impact,” he added.

The 13 start-ups graduating are a diverse set of high-impact ventures, including QBio, establishing Pakistan’s enzyme biotechnology company; Dawa Asaan, Pakistan’s first smart pharmacy delivering pre-sorted medicines; Peervest, a digital equity-based crowdfunding platform that connects tech-enabled start-ups with eligible investors; Loading Champions, a complete learning, coaching and recruitment solution; and Heirloom, that produces artisanal, sustainable and responsibly produced goods with elevated aesthetics. In the past, NICL’s graduating start-ups have gone on to raise funding after pitching at the Investor Summit; KalPay, a shariah-compliant BNPL service have already closed their pre-seed round via an angel investment of $100,000 and are in the process of finalising their next round of funding.

Attending the Investor Summit and offering valuable feedback were an esteemed panel of investors and entrepreneurs from across the ecosystem, including Aatif Awan (Indus Valley Capital), Badar Khushnood (P@sha), Qasif Shahid (Finja), Salman Khalid (Chogori Ventures), Ali Farid Khwaja (KTrade.pk), Omair Ansari (Abhi), Usman Javaid (Ricult Inc.), as well as Yusra Solangi (Zayn Capital) and Shakaib Naqvi (Zayn Capital). Representatives from Engro Corporation’s energy team were also present to provide perspective on sustainable solutions and corporate innovation.

Speaking at the occasion, Badar Khushnood, Chairman P@sha and member of NICL’s Foundation Council observed, “The diversity, depth and professionalism of start-ups at the Investor Summit is heartening to see. Despite challenges posited by Covid, NICL has been able to build the right pipeline of start-ups and mature it effectively. I’m delighted that each pitch I saw today, reflected the right vision, exposure and confidence.”

Start-ups presenting at the Investor Summit undergo a rigorous six-month long programme, with in-depth training in Design Thinking, Law, Strategy and Business Modelling, Market Research, Communications and Entrepreneurial Finance. In addition, they receive one-to-one mentorship from industry leaders in their domains.

The Center is now gearing up to welcome its ninth cohort, with ideas that solve problems in high-impact verticals across Pakistan. Representing fintech, Aamdani, a start-up founded by LUMS students, promotes earned wage access; Cashmail, founded to help ease chronic poverty, works on loan disbursement and recovery with the microfinance industry; whereas Zarai Zambeel provides digital financial solutions and services for farmers.

Other ideas include Gamma Green Recycle which helps recycling through cash incentives, SAY Global, that works on solving mental health and speech impediment issues, and Ebilty, which connects transporters with customers and provides end to end solutions.

 

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