Academia-industry linkages must for economic growth

ISLAMABAD: Strong ties between business and academics are necessary to increase the industrial sector’s contribution to economic growth, economic experts told WealthPK.
Dr Saqib Malik, Head of Economic Department of the National University of Modern Languages (NUML), told WealthPK that economic growth has been largely driven by the interaction between industry and academia. “If both do not communicate effectively, there will always be a mismatch between the skills and knowledge required by the industry and what graduates produce in universities.”
At present, the situation regarding industries and academia linkages in Pakistan does not appear to be encouraging, he observed. “They should work together to take joint initiatives and share knowledge to boost production and improve quality in the industrial sector,” he added.
He said that higher education and Science & Technology are very important sectors which seriously suffer inadequate budget allocations.
He suggested that technology incubation centers and science parks should be put up within the universities to translate the ideas into a marketable product and promote the collaboration of industries and academia.
“China is one of the leading players in this strategic field, in addition to holding strong beliefs about academic-industry linkage,” he said. These innovations have not been the only factors contributing to its rapid growth in science and technology over the last two decades, but these combined goal-oriented improvements and government reforms have significantly contributed to China’s economic boom, he added.
Prof Dr Fakhr-Ul-Islam, Director of Pakistan Study Center, University of Peshawar, told WealthPk that Pakistani firms not only need to compete at the local level but also at the global level. Local trade and industry need effort to compete at the international level and also to gain competitive advantages from the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). This is not possible without a strategic alliance of universities and industry. However, there are significant challenges that need to be addressed.
“Agricultural products account for a large percentage of Pakistan’s exports and production.” Leather and textile industries are one of Pakistan’s major export contributors. But this industrial sector is lagging behind the requirements of the era in terms of both its infrastructure and its skilled workforce,” he said.
He said the government lacks interest in industry promotion and establishment. “It does not provide support or incentive for the upgradation of already existing industries (such as agriculture, textiles, leather), or the establishment of new high-tech industries (biotechnology, information technology, automotive).”
High-tech R&D, universities and public research institutes face even greater difficulties, he said. It is direly needed that development activities in universities are oriented toward demand in the market and in society, he added.
Therefore, for Pakistan, the cooperation and collaboration of academia and industry are crucial for economic growth and sustainability, he said.