Small and Medium Enterprises Development Authority (SMEDA) Tuesday signed a tripartite Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Higher Education Commission (HEC) and the five universities selected for implementation of its National Idea Lab (NIL) Programme to promote entrepreneurship among educated youth. SMEDA CEO Hashim Raza, HEC Executive Director Dr Shaista Sohail, and Vice Chancellors of the five selected universities, which include Dr Rizwan Riaz from University of Sciences and Technology (NUST), Islamabad, Dr Mohsin Khan from Institute of Management, signed the MOU. Sciences (IMSD), Peshawar, Dr Mohammad Tufail, VC, NED University of Engineering and Technology, Karachi, Dr Ahmed Farooq Bazai, Balochistan University of IT, Engineering and Management Sciences (BUITEMS), Quetta and Dr Tanvir Hussain, Director National Textile University (NTU), Faisalabad. Dr Amjad Hussain, Director General and Ms Noshaba Awais, Director RFI-HEC also addressed the signing ceremony, besides signatory of the Agreement. SMEDA CEO Hashim Raza, while addressing the signing ceremony, said that the National Idea Lab (NIL) would promote entrepreneurship development and new enterprise creation to nurture and promote the creative ideas of young entrepreneurs. The NIL aims to provide a physical as well as virtual environment for generating, developing and commercializing innovative ideas with the help through trainings, mentoring and technology assistance, he added. He said the HEC would be providing inputs on networking opportunities, capacity building programs, monitoring, and evaluation of the program, while the selected institutions of HEC will provide necessary support through their Business Incubation Centres (BICs). He explained that initially NILs would be established at National University of Sciences and Technology (NUST), Islamabad, Institute of Management Sciences (IMSciences), Peshawar, NED University of Engineering and Technology, Karachi, Balochistan University of IT, Engineering and Management Sciences (BUITEMS), Quetta and National Textile University (NTU), Faisalabad. Earlier, HEC Executive Director Shaista Sohail in her address of welcome thanked SMEDA CEO to repose confidence in the HEC for implementation of an innovative program for promotion of entrepreneurship among the educated youth. She was confident that National Idea Lab (NIL) programme would bring the tangible results in creating new and non-conventional enterprises. She said that youth of Pakistan were full of exclusive business ideas, which would be transformed into working enterprises with the support of NIL. She assured to extend the fullest support of HEC to make the program an ultimate success by achieving the goals of entrepreneurship development in the country. She said the HEC feels proud of being in-charge for NIL initiative. It is notable that under NIL Programme, the interested students or researchers having an innovative idea would be eligible to share the space, experience, information and resources at the National Idea Lab, which would eventually take their idea through a systematic process to the incubation as a startup or SME at the respective Business Incubation Centre. (BIC). The process will include organizing boot camps; providing trainings, mentoring and necessary technology on entrepreneurial skills and open innovation; transforming ideas into business plans through dedicated mentoring; successful business plans registering for the incubation programme at BIC; providing matching, seed-funding opportunities, attaching with existing SMEs, etc. During implementation of the first phase of the NIL, SMEDA would provide support in the areas of organizing specific training sessions/webinars at the NIL regarding all services of business development including advisory, feasibility, idea validation, registration, legality, regulatory compliance and counselling service. The SMEDA would help new budding student entrepreneurs to refine their ideas into business plans and would also be responsible of creating liaison with SMEs, industries and integrating them with available investment, funding, and grant opportunities.