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National Advanced Research, Development and Commercialization Company Concept Note


NARDCO (intentionally called a company instead of an Institute due to commercialization-first focus) shall be the most elite, advanced, cross-disciplinary applied research and commercialization company in the country. It shall be staffed with world-class, commercially successful management driving eminent scientists, engineers, researchers and industry experts to incubate, seed finance and spin-off (into existing industrial eco-system or new companies) large, globally impactful but locally relevant, commercial solutions. NARDCO will work on projects that:

  • are disruptive and innovative;
  • are nationally and/or globally strategic in nature;
  • can impact 1 million plus lives positively;
  • have the potential to spawn $1+ billion net export-oriented industry/business.

The caliber of people NARDCO shall need are far & few in the country. Therefore, initially, human resource might have to be sourced globally or head hunted from large multi-nationals & eminent local/global research institutions, ideally (but not limited to) targeting imminent Pakistan-origin management, researchers, engineers and industry experts. These eminent individuals will be assisted by scientists and staff sourced locally through a highly competitive and careful screening process. The goal will be to build long-term capacity locally, bootstrapped by international experts initially. Engineers, scientists and researchers from multiple disciplines will work together to develop disruptive solutions that lie at the intersection of disparate fields of science and technology. Some projects NARDCO can work on include:

  • Mass transport system of the future
  • Electric vehicle (bikes/cars) ecosystem
  • Cure for untreatable, pervasive diseases
  • New energy generation system
  • Better, efficient energy storage devices
  • Metro-scale pollution combat system
  • Cheap nutritional solutions for the bottom of the pyramid

Overtime, as local capacity and expertise develops at NARDCO and spreads in the industry and academia, NARDCO will evolve into a screening, funding and program management body that will work collaboratively with local outsourced industry-academia partners.

NARDCO needs to be a highly secure and self-sufficient facility located amidst natural elements that fosters creativity and inspires the staff so that the best of the best can be enticed to join and feel secure. It needs safe housing for the staff and the school-going children of key staff need assured admissions in top schools in the city. PM house in Islamabad or Lahore Knowledge Park will be a perfect place to house NARDCO. It shall be declared a Special Advanced Research & Commercialization (SPARC) Zone where regular governmental rules of business will not apply, but will be developed by an elite board governing the company. It will enjoy special subsidies, tax breaks and priority processing at government entities it deals with.

NARDCO shall be a commercial company first and a research & development entity second. Project priorities shall be driven by market research. The end goal of the company will be to program manage small and big innovations into large, national and global solutions that can be commercialized by a world-class commercialization team. New companies can be spawned off from NARDCO after initial incubation and establishing product market fit. Private sector investors and industry shall provide all growth capital to NARDCO spin-offs that might include entire chains of vendors, developers, assemblers, dealers, marketers and after-sale service and parts providers. Government might have to pass some of the SPARC zone concessions to the spun off companies.

DARPA, a somewhat similar platform in United States, has now evolved into merely a program management agency and yet has an annual budget of over $3 Billion. NARDCO will require a sustained commitment of at least PKR 10 Billion annually (for management, research equipment, labs, consumables, fabs, plants and all operational expenses) and should produce at least 5-10 different industries/businesses/eco-systems worth at least PKR 100B each, create 1 Million direct and indirect jobs and contribute at least $5-10B to Pakistan’s net exports.

Khurram Zafar (20 Posts)

Director, National Incubation Center, LUMS | Director, 47 Ventures | Member, Prime Minister's Task force on Technology Driven Knowledge Economy | Board Member/Director, Karandaaz Pakistan | Investment Committee, Insitor Impact Asia Fund | Board Member/Director Mobilink Bank | Member Management Committee and Investment Committee, Punjab Pension Fund | Member Steering Committee, HEC Technology Development Fund | Fortune 500 & Venture Capital Consultant | Prentice Hall Published Author | Follow me on Twitter by clicking here!


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