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Ideas to improve R&D in Pakistan

313ghazi

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We all agree that very little research and development is done in Pakistan, and I was thinking how we could improve that. I had a few ideas I wanted to share with you and get your thoughts.

1. Regulation - We need regulation that ties the university status of each university to research. There should not be any universities in our country not creating PHD students. There perhaps should be a percentage of the intake that should be going onto PHD studies, although this must be kept very small, we want to encourage quality not quantity.

2. Funding. Govt must be willing to fund cost of living of phD students in STEM subjects or the type of research we consider required to national interest. Students and professors should be able to put together funding requests and state why they think thier work is beneficial to society and why society should cover their cost of living.. This could also cover arts, but it will cover it in a level proportional to national requirement, not on desires of students.

3. University-industry links. I want to see this in three areas.

a. Govt should give tax refunds of 50% of any amount a business contributes to a university for research and development. So if Malik Riaz gives 10 billion pkr to a university for research, then he can expect 5 billion refunded from his taxes. There should be checks and balances to ensure this money goes into phd costs, not towards university profits, or buying land and building hostels and gyms.

b. I'd like to see industry work in collaboration with universities to do their own research. If your company wants to do research, work with university professors. The work could be part funded by you, part funded by the university, and if they can make a case for it, govt could contribute up to 20% of the cost. It'd be win win for the universities who get part funded research, the companies who get part funded research and the state who gets r&D on the cheap.

c. Employability scores for university graduates on a course by course basis. Also industry approval of courses or faculties. This would encourage universities to revise their content and keep it relevant. it would also mean students could have a better idea of the quality of the education they're paying for, because ultimately they want it to lead to employment and finally it would benefit companies because they would have graduates who are more capable of hitting the ground running.

I could do a whole other topic on employability of graduates and the future of higher education and industry, but for now this is what i want to focus on.

What do you think?
 

Al_Muhannad

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We all agree that very little research and development is done in Pakistan, and I was thinking how we could improve that. I had a few ideas I wanted to share with you and get your thoughts.

1. Regulation - We need regulation that ties the university status of each university to research. There should not be any universities in our country not creating PHD students. There perhaps should be a percentage of the intake that should be going onto PHD studies, although this must be kept very small, we want to encourage quality not quantity.

2. Funding. Govt must be willing to fund cost of living of phD students in STEM subjects or the type of research we consider required to national interest. Students and professors should be able to put together funding requests and state why they think thier work is beneficial to society and why society should cover their cost of living.. This could also cover arts, but it will cover it in a level proportional to national requirement, not on desires of students.

3. University-industry links. I want to see this in three areas.

a. Govt should give tax refunds of 50% of any amount a business contributes to a university for research and development. So if Malik Riaz gives 10 billion pkr to a university for research, then he can expect 5 billion refunded from his taxes. There should be checks and balances to ensure this money goes into phd costs, not towards university profits, or buying land and building hostels and gyms.

b. I'd like to see industry work in collaboration with universities to do their own research. If your company wants to do research, work with university professors. The work could be part funded by you, part funded by the university, and if they can make a case for it, govt could contribute up to 20% of the cost. It'd be win win for the universities who get part funded research, the companies who get part funded research and the state who gets r&D on the cheap.

c. Employability scores for university graduates on a course by course basis. Also industry approval of courses or faculties. This would encourage universities to revise their content and keep it relevant. it would also mean students could have a better idea of the quality of the education they're paying for, because ultimately they want it to lead to employment and finally it would benefit companies because they would have graduates who are more capable of hitting the ground running.

I could do a whole other topic on employability of graduates and the future of higher education and industry, but for now this is what i want to focus on.

What do you think?
We need research institutes such as NSF (US), Key Research Labs (China), Fraunhofer/Max Plank (Germany), INRIA (France), RiSE (Sweden). These institutes must for every major research subject/industry that one can imagine. The people who lead these institutes should have generalship like qualities.
And then these institutes need to be free of any political culture/influence. Pakistan had one such university (ITU) but leadership had very close ties with then ruling government. A lot of the opportunities were dealt under the table way. The opportunities must be for every Pakistani, not blue-eyed Beaconhouse desi angrez.

The research culture needs to be grown organically (management/tech/finance-wise). So that it can survive without outside interference/help. There needs to accountability of existing/running research projects. I would suggest working on major problems like transport (rail, aviation, automotive sectors), energy (solar, efficient grid, renewable), and communication (fiber setup from Khanjrab to Karachi).
A 5 year plan needs to exist for every knowledge stream.
For example, China’s 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-2025): Spotlight on Semiconductors:

There needs to a continuous upgrade of the content being taught/researched. My german university does not do any major work in Processors/Chips but the content is continuously upgraded being copied from US/Asian industrial giants. The undergraduate/MS/PhD coursework needs to be updated every 1-4 years.
The sitting-on-chair attitude needs to be put down PMA style.
 

313ghazi

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We need research institutes such as NSF (US), Key Research Labs (China), Fraunhofer/Max Plank (Germany), INRIA (France), RiSE (Sweden). These institutes must for every major research subject/industry that one can imagine. The people who lead these institutes should have generalship like qualities.
And then these institutes need to be free of any political culture/influence. Pakistan had one such university (ITU) but leadership had very close ties with then ruling government. A lot of the opportunities were dealt under the table way. The opportunities must be for every Pakistani, not blue-eyed Beaconhouse desi angrez.

The research culture needs to be grown organically (management/tech/finance-wise). So that it can survive without outside interference/help. There needs to accountability of existing/running research projects. I would suggest working on major problems like transport (rail, aviation, automotive sectors), energy (solar, efficient grid, renewable), and communication (fiber setup from Khanjrab to Karachi).
A 5 year plan needs to exist for every knowledge stream.
For example, China’s 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-2025): Spotlight on Semiconductors:

There needs to a continuous upgrade of the content being taught/researched. My german university does not do any major work in Processors/Chips but the content is continuously upgraded being copied from US/Asian industrial giants. The undergraduate/MS/PhD coursework needs to be updated every 1-4 years.
The sitting-on-chair attitude needs to be put down PMA style.

Research institutes are a good idea too. Most are funded by government grants. I don't see our govt spending too much on research institutes. I think there is a possible model for private-public funding of such institutes. Ulitimately govt has to be the one to make the first step.
 

Al_Muhannad

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Research institutes are a good idea too. Most are funded by government grants. I don't see our govt spending too much on research institutes. I think there is a possible model for private-public funding of such institutes. Ulitimately govt has to be the one to make the first step.
Fraunhofer works at 3-3-3 rule. Government funds 1/3, 1/3 comes from an industrial investment, and remaining 1/3 comes from sales of technica IP.
 

S.Y.A

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Research institutes are a good idea too. Most are funded by government grants. I don't see our govt spending too much on research institutes. I think there is a possible model for private-public funding of such institutes. Ulitimately govt has to be the one to make the first step.
there were research institutes under ministry of science, but they arent performing as well as they could due to typical BS babus lording over engineers, and application of obsolete govt rules on research institutes.
 

Goenitz

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@313ghazi
someday brother. Busy these days. However, think more like creating small units/projects. Centralisation always sucks. You can make QAA (quality assurance agency) like HEC to at least give approvals, but they are corrupt too.
You shouldn't limit PhD induction, let student proposals/ideas decide. If they can convince research group, then let him do it.

Our industry is more tilted towards application, where you need PhD for innovations. So vocational training and commercial application graduates/master may server better than producing PhDs.

Like do you need world class scientists, poets, painters, writers?? I think west values them more than us. We need expert manufacturer, entrepreneurs, developers, supervisors, etc. Even PhD holder will be doing it in the end as at higher tier (innovation level), we lack institutes or industries to induct researchers. Such as we produce top level physicians and surgeons but not virologists and chemists. We can manufacture drugs/med but not invent. Our formula milk, shampoo, etc all come from abroad.

Lastly, we are out of technology cycle of research. The amount we need to build human resources and infrastructure is out of bound. The best option is to export our cream as much as possible who pursue higher education. Else, they get wasted anyway as we lack full professors having 100s of research papers, many professional development courses, supervisory experience, project experience, etc.

With PhD and 1-2 research papers in UK, you can apply for Lecturer at most. In Pak, you can shoot to Asst Prof. However, if one doesn't progress, he can retire as lecturer or senior lecturer at most. But In Pak, he can be full Prof on seniority basis.
 

peagle

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We all agree that very little research and development is done in Pakistan, and I was thinking how we could improve that. I had a few ideas I wanted to share with you and get your thoughts.

1. Regulation - We need regulation that ties the university status of each university to research. There should not be any universities in our country not creating PHD students. There perhaps should be a percentage of the intake that should be going onto PHD studies, although this must be kept very small, we want to encourage quality not quantity.

2. Funding. Govt must be willing to fund cost of living of phD students in STEM subjects or the type of research we consider required to national interest. Students and professors should be able to put together funding requests and state why they think thier work is beneficial to society and why society should cover their cost of living.. This could also cover arts, but it will cover it in a level proportional to national requirement, not on desires of students.

3. University-industry links. I want to see this in three areas.

a. Govt should give tax refunds of 50% of any amount a business contributes to a university for research and development. So if Malik Riaz gives 10 billion pkr to a university for research, then he can expect 5 billion refunded from his taxes. There should be checks and balances to ensure this money goes into phd costs, not towards university profits, or buying land and building hostels and gyms.

b. I'd like to see industry work in collaboration with universities to do their own research. If your company wants to do research, work with university professors. The work could be part funded by you, part funded by the university, and if they can make a case for it, govt could contribute up to 20% of the cost. It'd be win win for the universities who get part funded research, the companies who get part funded research and the state who gets r&D on the cheap.

c. Employability scores for university graduates on a course by course basis. Also industry approval of courses or faculties. This would encourage universities to revise their content and keep it relevant. it would also mean students could have a better idea of the quality of the education they're paying for, because ultimately they want it to lead to employment and finally it would benefit companies because they would have graduates who are more capable of hitting the ground running.

I could do a whole other topic on employability of graduates and the future of higher education and industry, but for now this is what i want to focus on.

What do you think?

I have an out of box idea.

Introduce specific research legislation and policy which spells out the correct framework for this structure to exist. Providing solid guarantees for the protection of research being conducted by the companies. And fulfilling any other requirements.

*Pick couple of cities and classify those as research cities.
*Each city would have it's own research board overseeing the research related developments in that city.
*Create individual clusters of research parks around the city, so that the companies need not be clustered too close to each other,
*Link those parks with a single university in the same city.
*A potential investor would negotiate with the board and the university on the same table, the board would provide all the infrastructure and other facilities, the university would structure it's courses or a course to meet the requirements of that company.
*This need not require PHD students, because they can be hired from anywhere in the country or abroad, but technicians and other staffing requirements with the right education to fulfil the needs of the investor.

This I think would lay the framework for a research based culture, it would attract foreign investment, and allow for a quicker uptake of research activities.


For instance,
Much of the medical research is based on clinical trials, it has different kind of staffing requirements mostly below PHD, but also requires research volunteers, with specific requirements, including ethnicity and such things.

If a city was to become famous, lets say Multan becomes famous for medical trials, travellers would also come from around the world, do a medical trial and use the money for travelling. Once it became well known, the medical companies would have a ready supply of participant for their trials from various ethnic groups.

Even now, lot of young travellers do clinical trials in Australia etc.. and use the money for travelling. Clinical trials are already established in those countries so once there, they use that option. But if a single city in Pakistan was to become known for clinical trials, there would be a regular supply of volunteers and the structure would become retrenched. This is just a small example regarding clinical trials, but it is workable, within a suitable framework for different fields.


@Goenitz
 

JamD

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We all agree that very little research and development is done in Pakistan, and I was thinking how we could improve that. I had a few ideas I wanted to share with you and get your thoughts.

1. Regulation - We need regulation that ties the university status of each university to research. There should not be any universities in our country not creating PHD students. There perhaps should be a percentage of the intake that should be going onto PHD studies, although this must be kept very small, we want to encourage quality not quantity.

2. Funding. Govt must be willing to fund cost of living of phD students in STEM subjects or the type of research we consider required to national interest. Students and professors should be able to put together funding requests and state why they think thier work is beneficial to society and why society should cover their cost of living.. This could also cover arts, but it will cover it in a level proportional to national requirement, not on desires of students.

3. University-industry links. I want to see this in three areas.

a. Govt should give tax refunds of 50% of any amount a business contributes to a university for research and development. So if Malik Riaz gives 10 billion pkr to a university for research, then he can expect 5 billion refunded from his taxes. There should be checks and balances to ensure this money goes into phd costs, not towards university profits, or buying land and building hostels and gyms.

b. I'd like to see industry work in collaboration with universities to do their own research. If your company wants to do research, work with university professors. The work could be part funded by you, part funded by the university, and if they can make a case for it, govt could contribute up to 20% of the cost. It'd be win win for the universities who get part funded research, the companies who get part funded research and the state who gets r&D on the cheap.

c. Employability scores for university graduates on a course by course basis. Also industry approval of courses or faculties. This would encourage universities to revise their content and keep it relevant. it would also mean students could have a better idea of the quality of the education they're paying for, because ultimately they want it to lead to employment and finally it would benefit companies because they would have graduates who are more capable of hitting the ground running.

I could do a whole other topic on employability of graduates and the future of higher education and industry, but for now this is what i want to focus on.

What do you think?
@313ghazi
someday brother. Busy these days. However, think more like creating small units/projects. Centralisation always sucks. You can make QAA (quality assurance agency) like HEC to at least give approvals, but they are corrupt too.
You shouldn't limit PhD induction, let student proposals/ideas decide. If they can convince research group, then let him do it.

Our industry is more tilted towards application, where you need PhD for innovations. So vocational training and commercial application graduates/master may server better than producing PhDs.

Like do you need world class scientists, poets, painters, writers?? I think west values them more than us. We need expert manufacturer, entrepreneurs, developers, supervisors, etc. Even PhD holder will be doing it in the end as at higher tier (innovation level), we lack institutes or industries to induct researchers. Such as we produce top level physicians and surgeons but not virologists and chemists. We can manufacture drugs/med but not invent. Our formula milk, shampoo, etc all come from abroad.

Lastly, we are out of technology cycle of research. The amount we need to build human resources and infrastructure is out of bound. The best option is to export our cream as much as possible who pursue higher education. Else, they get wasted anyway as we lack full professors having 100s of research papers, many professional development courses, supervisory experience, project experience, etc.

With PhD and 1-2 research papers in UK, you can apply for Lecturer at most. In Pak, you can shoot to Asst Prof. However, if one doesn't progress, he can retire as lecturer or senior lecturer at most. But In Pak, he can be full Prof on seniority basis.


I mostly agree with what @Goenitz has to say. I think asking for R&D in Pakistan is putting the cart before the horse. I feel like that's what we do for a lot of things. For example, we'll build a university building and think about faculty and teaching later or maybe never.

The reason I say focusing on R&D is the cart is because @313ghazi as your post makes abundantly clear is that Pakistan lacks "industry-academia" linkage and the reason for this is glaringly simple - there is little to no industry. So IMHO funding most kinds of R&D will not generate value for Pakistan but for corporations outside of Pakistan that can take advantage of the R&D. This already happens with our wholesale production of engineers (BS, MS, PhD) basically to export or for underemployment as technicians or managers.

My conclusion: there needs to be some level of industrialization before we can talk about R&D because otherwise we are just coming up with a new way to waste money and send our money/talent abroad. How to industrialize in this day and age is another debate that I frankly don't know enough about to not say something stupid. This is better left to policy and economics people.

It is my belief that once there are industries present, R&D grows organically as corporations race to outdo the competition in innovation and go to universities for talent and research.
 
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SQ8

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1. Start at the university level to crack down on plagiarism with utmost severity both from a student and junior lecturer level.

2. Remove all non-qualified state officers including military from every R&D organization. I don’t care if you spent 20 years with the armored corps - don’t know signals, get out and go run a cereal factory or real estate company. Only people with RELEVANT qualifications to lead divisions regardless of their background (civil or military).

3. Make project management COMPULSORY for anyone in a management position
 

That Guy

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1. Start at the university level to crack down on plagiarism with utmost severity both from a student and junior lecturer level.

2. Remove all non-qualified state officers including military from every R&D organization. I don’t care if you spent 20 years with the armored corps - don’t know signals, get out and go run a cereal factory or real estate company. Only people with RELEVANT qualifications to lead divisions regardless of their background (civil or military).

3. Make project management COMPULSORY for anyone in a management position
4. Allow junior level officials to argue against senior level officials, if they think the seniors are wrong about something. This breeds competition and pushes innovation. Israel did this, and they've shot past most of the developed world, when it comes to scientific innovation.
 

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