The Government of Pakistan has allocated Rs190 million for the establishment of a chip design centre in the country.
According to the Public Sector Development Program (PSDP) 2023-24, the chip design centre will be established at the National University of Sciences and Technology (NUST) in the federal capital city of Islamabad.
The purpose of the centre will be to encourage the design and production of electronic chips so that the reliance on imported chips could be reduced.
The funds for the chip design centre have been allocated in the total pool of allocations for the Science and Technological Research Division.
The total allocation for Science and Technological Research Division under the PSDP is Rs5.716 billion of which Rs190 million will be spent on the new scheme of chip design centre.
The remaining funds will be spent on ongoing schemes under the division. Of the funds allocated for ongoing schemes, Rs400 million will be spent on the project of ‘Gene Editing of Biological Agents for Nutritional Biochemical and Therapeutical Purpose’.
Thereafter, Rs300 million will be spent on the ‘Launching of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) in Pakistan, Phase-I’ and another Rs300 million on ‘Science Talent Farming Scheme (STFS) for Young Students — Phase I’.
An amount of Rs286 million will be spent on the ‘Strengthening of Oceanographic Research Sub Station’ at Gwadar in Balochistan province, and another Rs250 million on ‘Monitoring the Sea Water Intrusion, Sea Level Rise, Coastal Erosion and Land Subsidence along Sindh and Baluchistan Coasts’ to protect against the inland ravages of saline water from the Arabian Sea.
Innovation will also get a boost after the establishment of ‘Medical Equipment & Devices Innovation Centre (MEDICen)’ with a total allocation of Rs200 million, and another Rs200 million for ‘Research, Development and Innovation Program in the PCSIR (Pakistan Council of Scientific and Industrial Research)’.
‘Medicinal Botanic Centre’ at the PCSIR lab Peshawar will also be upgraded to ‘National Centre for Herbal Medicine’ with a total allocation of Rs177 million.
Another Rs97 million will be spent on the ‘Semiconductor Chip Design Facilitation Centre’ to keep the momentum intact for the development of the country’s chip manufacturing industry.
Financing for all the projects under the Science and Technological Research Division will be carried out from the indigenous revenue of the government without any component being financed by foreign aid. A major chunk of the funds awarded to the Science and Technological Research Division will go to the research and development of state-of-the-art emerging and strategic technologies like chip design, nanotechnology, electromedical devices, artificial intelligence in health, digital transformation, automation, data repository, and competitive research programs.
The government must also make sure that the allocated money for projects in science and technology does achieve the objective of increasing the competitive edge of Pakistan’s scientific and technological institutions. To that end, the government should introduce effective monitoring and evaluation mechanisms to ensure transparency.