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How Plan 9 remains Pakistan’s largest incubator

How Plan 9 remains Pakistan’s largest incubator

Mehreen Zahra-Malik

Plan 9, located in the Arfa Software Technology Park, is Pakistan’s largest and first ever technology start-up incubation program. Run by the Punjab Information Technology Board, Plan 9 provides space, mentorship, facilities, legal and even financial support for startups that are incubated. Today, Plan 9 is Pakistan’s largest incubator and home to a host of brilliant startups thriving in the country thanks to the help Plan 9 provides them.

Plan 9 is a project of the Punjab Information Technology Board (PITB) and is the pioneer of tech incubators in Pakistan. It was launched with the aim of providing an opportunity to rising entrepreneurs of Pakistan to fulfill dreams of owning their own businesses.

How does Plan 9 work?

Housed on the 9th floor of the Arfa Software Technology Park, the services that Plan 9 offers to it’s incubators are free of charge. The incubation model at Plan 9 is tailored specifically for startups and encourages fresh entrepreneurs as young as undergraduates to pursue their business dreams.

Each startup at Plan9 receives a monthly stipend of Rs20,000 for six months. Plan 9 started in September 2012. It has two incubation cycles per year. Per year, Plan 9 has two incubation cycles with 15 teams selected for each cycle. To be eligible for Plan 9’s program, founders have to be a Pakistani nationals with a team of at least two to five individuals. The applicants’ business ideas will go through a pitch test at one of Plan 9’s launchpads held in Lahore, Karachi and Islamabad. 

In addition to being provided with services that help develop their businesses, entrepreneurs are also provided with mentoring, training and product review sessions. The exposure to the industry and opportunity to create a professional network is uncommon and second to none within the country. Guidance is given in the areas of product development, business development, financial planning, pitch training, marketing and PR, corporate communication, customer acquisition, internal operations and legal concerns.

Governmental Involvement

As the Province’s technology spearhead, the Punjab Information Technology Board, which is an autonomous body set by Government of the Punjab, is promoting a entrepreneurship culture in the country along with capacity building of both professionals (public and private sector) and students from across Pakistan.

Where does Plan 9 stand today?

Since its launch Plan9 has successfully incubated 130+ startups thus far, including success stories such as Bookme.pk, Markhor, and Eyedeus Labs, which have pitched their products to global audiences. Plan 9’s vision is an important one for the development of businesses and entrepreneurs in the country and with Plan 9 being the largest incubator in Pakistan, it will hopefully provide the impetus for other entrepreneurs to set up similar projects that can help cultivate innovation and creativity within Pakistani youth.

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