LAHORE: Strong linkage between industrial sector and academia is the most important tool to tackle the key economic challenges of Pakistan. It would also help invent new business models that are rapidly gaining the grounds all over the world.

This was crux of the speeches delivered by the experts from industry and academia while speaking a brainstorming session on “Strengthening of Academia and Industry Linkage” here at the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI). Higher Education Commission Executive Director Dr Arshad Ali, LCCI President Abdul Basit, Senior Vice President Amjad Ali Jawa, former president Engineer Sohail Lashari, Pakistan Engineering Council Chairman Javed Saleem Qureshi, Ibrar Ahmed, Khamis Saeed Butt, Convener LCCI Standing Committee on Industry-Academia Linkage Umer Saleem and the vice chancellors/representatives of 15 universities express their views on the occasion.

Dr Arshad called for a strategy that how knowledge and research of academia could be beneficial for the industry. He said that action plan should be defined in this regard. He said that HEC was established in 2002 and there were 67 universities in the country with 0.7 million students and budget of Rs6 billions but now situation is quite different. At present 183 universities are educating around 3 million students.

He said that the HEC is well aware of the weak linkages between academia and industry and is fully committed to facilitate the universities and industry. It would bridge this gap and explore all potential areas that would harness economic development and prosperity for the future generation of the country for the enhancement of industry-academia collaboration.

The LCCI president said that understanding between industrial and education sectors should be developed on sustainable basis. He said that the LCCI is working since long on this particular issue. He said that LCCI has declared 2017 as the year of industry-academia linkage. Objective of this initiative is to gain direct benefits from the research work of the universities. He said that it would reduce the cost of doing business, enhance the employment opportunities and enhance the competitiveness of the industrial sectors.

Basit emphasized the need for demand driven research work saying that it would be beneficial for both researchers and industry. He said that researchers would be able to sale their research work to the industry that would increase the industrial production.

The LCCI senior vice president informed the participants that LCCI has formed a standing Committee on Industry-Academia Linkages to strengthen liaison between industry, universities and colleges. He said that strong linkages would also resolve the issue of brain drain.

LCCI former president Sohail Lashari said that education sector needs to understand the industry’s demand for skilled human resources and it is possible through strong relations between industry and academia. He said that academia should develop projects beneficial for industry.

Convener LCCI Standing Committee on Industry-Academia Linkages Umer Saleem threw light on the aims and objectives of the committee. He said that visits of the different universities are being conducted and soon a conference would be organised.

The Pakistan Engineering Council chairman called for further homework and underlined the need to give representation of the industry in research centres. He said that in today’s scenario, reverse engineering has become a key to success as it help extract knowledge and make it possible to reproduce any product.