The Higher Education Commis-sion (HEC) has granted $525,000 to fifteen start-ups under the Innovator Seed Fund (ISF) program with the purpose to enhance the entrepreneurship, Daily Times has learnt. As per available information 15 start-ups have won grants of up to $35,000 each in the Pitching competition. Initially, as many as 26 entrepreneurial teams shortlisted out of 186 applicants who have participated in the competition. Chairman HEC Dr. Mukhtar Ahmed applauded the talent and potential of university students, graduates and researchers with regard to presenting solutions to local challenges. He, however, underlined that Pakistan definitely faces problems, yet it is certain that problems bring opportunities with them, adding that various achievements of Pakistani academia and industry in the spheres of technology and innovation, he stressed that the young generation was blessed with the capabilities to sort out solutions to the challenges facing the country. While recalling the start-up program, Dr Ahmed highlighted that Pakistan’s start-ups saw a record-breaking year of fund-raising in 2021 with over $350 million in funding. He noted that with collective and persistent efforts, this fledgling ecosystem can flourish further and safeguard Pakistani entrepreneurs through regulatory, networking, and funding opportunities. During the pitching ceremony earlier, Dr. Shaista Sohail said Pakistan currently has the largest number of young people ever in its history, which makes it one of the youngest countries in the world. “This huge generation of young people can be the biggest asset of the country, if we are able to reap its potential by empowering and uplifting them.” She stressed the need for providing the youth the right kind of education and skills as well as the opportunities to fulfil their roles as responsible, productive citizens, and drivers of economic growth. She noted that in many countries, startups and entrepreneurship play a very important role in job creation. She further observed that Pakistan’s startup ecosystem is still in its embryonic stage compared to other nations of the world. “There is a dire need to propel our efforts towards promotion of technology and innovation-based Startups in the country and to boost the overall Startup ecosystem,” she emphasised. The grant winning start-ups included ezGeyser, mimAR Studios, Funkshan Tech Pvt. Ltd., and truID Technologies Pvt. Ltd. from National University of Sciences & Technology (NUST); Savvy Engineers Pvt. Ltd. and Arm Rehab Technologies from International Islamic University Islamabad (IIUI); Avero Life Sciences from Institute of Management Sciences, Peshawar; Wonder Women from University of the Punjab; Orko Pvt. Ltd., Boltay Huroof, and Poter Pakistan from NED University of Engineering & Technology (UET), Karachi; VisionRD and Oxbridge Innovative Solutions Pvt. Ltd. from Bahria University Islamabad; 110 Innovate from IBA-Sukkur; and Shahruh Technologies Pvt. Ltd. from UET, Lahore.