ISLAMABAD - The US Agency for International Development Thursday publically launched the next round of the Ambassador’s Fund Grant Programme with a ceremony announcing the first eleven grant recipients.

During the current five-year cycle, running from 2017-2022, this programme will award approximately 200 grants in support of high impact efforts by Pakistani organisations working to improve the economic and social conditions of the people of Pakistan.

Chargé d'affaires of the US Embassy, John Hoover told those gathered for the event that, “This programme helps people address local problems by implementing indigenous solutions that will have immediate and long-lasting impact.”

The Ambassador’s Fund Programme supports initiatives focused on priority areas identified by the United States Ambassador to Pakistan. During the current programme grant cycle, USAID will support initiatives focused on promoting culture & the arts, improving disaster preparedness, developing small-scale energy solutions, encouraging social entrepreneurship, and empowering vulnerable populations.

Private sector organisations, non-governmental organisations, and non-government academic research and training institutions, including those led by women and those working in the regions of Azad Jammu and Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan, are eligible to apply.

The programme is managed by the Trust for Democratic Education and Accountability.

Meanwhile, the US Department of Commerce, in partnership with the Higher Education Commission of Pakistan, the Continuing Legal Education Institute of Pakistan, and the Intellectual Property Organisation of Pakistan hosted the opening of a workshop on intellectual proper licensing for universities.

Held on the campus of the National University of Science and Technology at the US-Pakistan Centre for Advanced Studies in Energy (a collaboration between the US Agency for International Development and NUST, this two-day event brings together lawyers and academic experts on intellectual property licensing from both the United States and Pakistan to develop strategies for Pakistani universities to protect and commercialise their research through IP protections.

Speaking at the opening ceremony, US Embassy Islamabad Counselor for Economic Affairs Michael Sullivan told the assembled crowd that “Laying the foundation for IPR protection is one of the best ways for Pakistan to create an environment that cultivates innovation and attracts foreign direct investment, which ultimately increases Pakistan’s global competitiveness and creates a stronger economy.” 

Sullivan was joined in the opening ceremony by the chief guest IPOP Chairman Mujeeb Ahmed Khan, who focused his remarks on the impact intellectual property on innovation and the development of Pakistan’s economy.

At the conclusion of the two-day conference, attendees will work through a series of case studies to develop specific licensing strategies and agreements, ensuring a practical application of the broader discussions. This workshop is part of the Commercial Law Development Programme (CLDP), a division of the US Department of Commerce that seeks to assist countries with commercial legal reforms through government-to-government technical assistance. Active in Pakistan for over 20 years, CLDP Pakistan has run exchanges and programmes focused on IP, judicial capacity building, energy policy, telecommunications, and tech innovation.