Re: [s-asia-it] [pakgrid] Re: Open Letter: National ICT R&D Fund bending

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  • Subject: Re: [s-asia-it] [pakgrid] Re: Open Letter: National ICT R&D Fund bending to Microsoft instead of facilitating struggling Entpreneurers!
  • From: Ashiq Anjum <ashiq.anjum at cern dot ch>
  • Date: Thu, 19 Feb 2009 03:37:04 +0000
  • Cc: nidu_it_policy at yahoogroups dot com, Jamil <zahid at jamilandjamil dot com>, Qasim Sheikh <qasim.sheikh at ictrdf dot org dot pk>, Jamil Anwar <jamil.goheer at gmail dot com>, Salman Ansari <salman at super dot net dot pk>, bytesforall_readers at yahoogroups dot com, TGP Group <telecom-grid-pakistan at googlegroups dot com>, "farhana at qau dot edu dot pk" <farhana at qau dot edu dot pk>, Zahid, Shahida Saleem <shahida.saleem at gmail dot com>, Shahzad Ahmad <shahzad at bytesforall dot net>, Pakistan ICT Policy group <pakistanictpolicy at yahoogroups dot com>, s-asia-it at apnic dot net
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    • ICT R&D Fund is one of the few institutions in the country that are doing an excellent job. I remain in touch with the people who are actively pursuing research projects at NUST, LUMS, UET and other places and they always appreciate the constructive role and support from the ICT R&D Fund.

      Before we make conclusions, we need to understand the role, responsibilities and the procedures which govern the activities of such R&D bodies.

      1. Any funding body will only entertain those proposals that come under its research and development (R&D) programmes.
      2. If a proposal does not fulfil some minimum criteria, it will not even reach the screening phase.
      3. A committee of experts will evaluate the proposal based upon its innovation, technical strength, and future impact.  In most cases, the committee members have PhD's, are very senior academics or R &D professionals in industry and have decades of experience. They are neutral, unbiased and have no stakes involved in the proposal that they are reviewing.
      4. All the scores received from reviewers are consolidated and therefore, each of the submitted proposals gets an aggregate/average score.
      5.  Based upon the average scores they receive, all proposals are ranked.
      6. The principal investigators of top tank proposals are invited for an interview. A panel of experts questions the investigators about the budget, any questions/shortcomings that were brought forward from the review process are clarified, justification of the resources is required etc.
      7. In most cases, funding agencies interview more people than the available funds. For example, if they have to support 10 proposals, they will invite around 20 applicants that were top scorers in the overall ranking.
      8. The successful applications get a contract and then the funding agency monitors the activities against the objectives outlined in the proposal. The funds are released in instalments after reviewing the interim progress.

       

      First, if a researcher/professional/academic does not write a proposal, he/she will never be funded.  Second, funding agency can not donate funds to its favourites. Only the top scorers who have an excellent proposal and can defend its objectives and outcomes are eligible.

       

      Third, funding agency can not stop any legal entity from applying for funds. The process should be competitive, transparent and any one in the country can apply. Many Pakistani universities such as NUST are getting funds from European and American funding bodies in collaboration with their European/American counterparts.

       

      Fourth, the role of a funding agency is to idenitfy areas of national interest and then take actions, which can facilitate the academics/researchers in achieving those objectives. No funding agency can build incubators for industry, probably this is outside of their scope.

       

      Fifth, this is the role of a funding agency to encourage collaborations for promoting research cultures and provide help in bringing the best minds closer. Top class universities and sound industrial partners can always collaborate if they have a good idea, they can compete and they can elevate novelty and innovation to new heights. This is the area where European and American funding bodies are striving to make an impact.

      Having said that, I think National ICT R&D is rightly doing its job and we should appreciate that. For further information, you may also look at the European Commission’s FP7 programme (http://cordis.europa.eu/home_en.html). Under this programme, EC has allocated around 50 billion Euros for research and development and they are following the procedure almost similar to the one I outlined above. More than one billion euros have been allocated to attract bright students from developing countries.

      You can also visit UK research council's page at http://www.rcuk.ac.uk/default.htm and more precisely their physical sciences research council (EPSRC)  page http://www.epsrc.ac.uk/default.htm. You can also check the details from American funding agencies such as NSF, DOE, DARPA etc.

      Hope this helps.

      Disclaimer: I never got funding from ICT R&D fund and I am sending this message only with good intentions.

      Best Regards
      Ashiq Anjum



      Dr.Ashiq Anjum
      Bristol Institute of Technology,
      UWE, Bristol


      Fouad Bajwa wrote:

      Are people like myself included in the independent evaluation group?
      We represent a major segment of the policy deliberations in Pakistan,
      I haven't seen any invitation by your kind self on the subject to the
      Pakistan ICT Policy Monitor? What else is more transparent today than
      the Pakistan ICT Policy Monitor, Telecom Grid and Pak Grid?

      What were the hurdles that prevented National ICT R&D Fund to
      financially fund and support NIDU to carry out the National IT Policy
      redraft that is determinant of the direction in innovation by the
      Government?

      Its easy to say such things but lack of practical display really tells
      the true story. One question, why support a Foreign Tech Giant whereas
      this country has around 1000 plus local companies that need the funds
      direct support?

      Where are public technology incubators where even people as simple as
      myself can come in with my idea and available HR to incubate my ideas?

      Why are there long bureaucratic processes involved in decisions that
      people and local companies need in less than a month taking over a
      year when the companies are done with the product they required
      funding for.

      I have facts from people that have approached me. Why shy away instead
      of improvements?

      On Wed, Feb 18, 2009 at 8:43 PM, Qasim Sheikh
      <qasim.sheikh@ictrdf.org.pk> wrote:
      > Dear Fawad,
      > All proposals we receive go through a transparent approval process and
      > all approved proposals are placed on internet. Microsoft's proposals will
      > be reviewed by independent evaluators approved by our board. We welcome
      > industry representatives to take some of their precious time and develop
      > proposals to receive funding from us to pursue their innovative ideas.
      >
      >
      > With Regards
      >
      > Qasim Sheikh
      > CEO
      > National ICT R&D Fund
      > Telephone Number: +923008540838
      > url: www.ictrdf.org.pk
      >
      > On Wed, Feb 18, 2009 at 5:04 PM, Fouad Bajwa <fouadbajwa@gmail.com> wrote:
      >>
      >> To all members of the IT Industry & Technical Community,
      >>
      >> Everyone is well aware that global financial recession has hit even
      >> the Tech Giants where companies like Microsoft and Intel have being
      >> saying goodbye to thousands of their employees. The situation doesn't
      >> seem to be getting better but interestingly our Pakistani National ICT
      >> R&D Fund http://www.ictrdf.org.pk/ is thinking about helping Microsoft
      >> in Pakistan and we from the industry feel that it is sad that instead
      >> of supporting local Hi-Tech Start-ups and struggling IT Entrepreneurs
      >> by funding the usual "Non-Useful" activities like conferences,
      >> so-called accelerator programs for Pakistan.
      >>
      >> For those that are educated, knowledgeable, experienced and struggling
      >> in the local tech-economy, they know that Open Source Software has
      >> been the foundation for innovation in Pakistan and around the world
      >> and that all major European Research program funding and Venture
      >> Capital seed money including the Silicon Valley has pushed the Open
      >> Source revolution as a means for sustainable product and market
      >> development encouraging regional as well as global collaboration
      >> devastating the market for closed source, proprietary COTS products.
      >>
      >> I have come to know through my friends in the IT Industry that the
      >> National ICT R&D Fund has signed an MoU with Microsoft to fund the
      >> Microsoft Developers Conference
      >> and something called an "Innovators Accelerator Program". The funds
      >> haven't been disbursed yet but it definitely annoys me and many of my
      >> friends in the IT industry that our government should fund Microsoft
      >> initiatives which is already a global giant. I have heard that around
      >> 5 million rupees or thereabouts for the innovation accelerator program
      >> which will involve Microsoft training, entrepreneurship training and
      >> connecting with Microsoft partners and similar amounts related.
      >>
      >> We feel that the National ICT R&D Fund has been a quiet observer on
      >> the matters of National IT Policy but has the money to waste. It has
      >> never extended its hand to us when we stepped into the National IT
      >> Policy formulation process leaving behind the NIDU instead of funding
      >> NIDU and getting the process forward. Instead it does have the money
      >> to fund Microsoft. As for Microsoft, its really a shame that it has to
      >> seek money from our government to pull off its marketing. NIDU didn't
      >> even have the funds to fund IT Policy meetings and work on the working
      >> groups but National ICT Fund sat silent.
      >>
      >> When will our national institutions support its people, the
      >> vulnerable, not the already empowered? Why doesn't it support the
      >> local entrepreneurs, the ones that don't have large companies or
      >> university backings? Why does it have liabilities to include
      >> universities whereas it knows what the state of R&D in universities
      >> has been except for a few handful.Why doesn't it include this money
      >> for Social Enterprise and created a NATIONAL INCUBATION AND
      >> ACCELERATION CENTRE where people like me or you or anyone can walk in
      >> and build their ideas and companies?
      >>
      >> We can establish two centres like this http://www.socialinnovation.ca/
      >> and help local entrepreneurs in business development and social
      >> innovation with the same amount of money that helps and benefits our
      >> people and companies directly as well as innovate for local and
      >> international markets.
      >>
      >> The fund is administered by the same Ministry of IT & T that didn't
      >> have the funds to support the NIDU backed National IT Policy
      >> Redrafting activity but has the money to fund Microsoft. I feel
      >> ashamed. They should first support National Policy Development and
      >> Implementation in Pakistan before helping foreign rich Tech-Giants! If
      >> you want to view previous Microsoft agreements with the Fund, here is
      >> the link: http://www.microsoft.com/middleeast/Pakistan/events/ as well
      >> as http://www.ictrdf.org.pk/images/sphere/072008/ICTS_072008_Page4.jpg
      >>
      >> - Our call is to become a people's group to Externally Evaluate
      >> evaluation of proposals at the National ICT R&D Fund instead of money
      >> left to be wasted!
      >>
      >> - We want money to be first directed to the people and then let the
      >> people decide if they want money to be given to tech-giants!
      >>
      >> - We want to be included in all funding decisions so transparency and
      >> accountability is maintained over a fund that is created to support
      >> the citizens of Pakistan, not foreign tech-giants!
      >>
      >> - If the foreign Tech Giants want to market their products and things,
      >> they should do it with their own money and not the national resource
      >> that is only for the citizens of Pakistan.
      >>
      >> Food For Thought - Your Silence is your Ignorance - Let's become Humane!
      >>
      >> Regards.
      >> --------------------------
      >> Fouad Bajwa
      >> @skBajwa
      >> Answering all your technology questions
      >> http://www.askbajwa.com
      >> http://twitter.com/fouadbajwa
      >
      >
      >
      >

      --

      Regards.
      --------------------------
      Fouad Bajwa
      @skBajwa
      Answering all your technology questions
      http://www.askbajwa.com
      http://twitter.com/fouadbajwa

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