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PAF’s NASTP — A New Era in Technology

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The eleventh edition of the International Defense Exhibition Ideas 2022 has concluded successfully at the Karachi Expo Center.

This time the stall of the Pakistan Air Force (PAF), National Aerospace Science and Technology Park (NASTP), won the best stall award.

The Pakistan Air Force’s National Aerospace Science and Technology Park (NASTP) stall at Ideas 2022 is the culmination of this initiative, which has drawn both domestic and international interest.

We had a special conversation with Air Vice Marshal Ghulam Abbas Ghumman, Deputy Chief of Air Staff, National Aerospace Science, and Technology (NASTP), and obtained details about this project from him.

The National Aerospace Science and Technology Park (NASTP) is an ecosystem

NASTP’s primary objective is to establish linkages between industry and academia for essential elements that promote design, research, development, and innovation in the aviation, aeronautical and cyber domains.

Air Vice Marshal Ghulam Abbas Ghumman while explaining the importance of this project said that on the one hand, emerging and disruptive technologies are coming into play, so it’s very difficult to get them without indigenous effort.

On the other hand, our fiscal space is shrinking so it is very important that with a very systematic approach and full focus we create aerospace, cyber, and computing clusters not only for our national security needs but also for our industrial development and emerging industries. and establish design, R&D, and innovation centers for disruptive technologies.

To this end, the Pakistan Air Force is establishing National Aerospace Science and Technology Parks (NASTP) with the support of its partners, industry, and academia approved by the Government of Pakistan on the basis of its seventy years of experience.

It is a whole ecosystem where academia and private industry will work together. And the government should encourage not only these sectors but also other sectors, including regulatory duties, customs taxes, etc. so that the business can move forward.

Phase-wise plan of National Aerospace Science and Technology Park (NASTP)

Talking about the phased plan of NASTP, Air Vice Marshal Ghulam Abbas Ghumman said that technology parks are being built first under this project.

These technology parks will be created in a phased manner; they will first be created in the major cities of Pakistan.

After that, they will be made into software technology parks at the university level and finally at the district level.

Giving the details of the implementation of this plan, he said that a technology park has been built in Rawalpindi and it has been made operational.

Educational institutions have been established in Rawalpindi’s Technology Park to support research and development.

While there we are also grooming the human resource that we have in the form of students and conducting research and development from them which will prove helpful for the industry in the future.

We have brought all the research and development setups in our parks to collaborate with the private industry and take forward our projects.

From Technology Incubator to National Incubator Center

Giving information about the most prominent initiative of NASTP’s Techno Parks, he said that they are building such centers with the government’s support.

“We will bring startups to these incubation centers that our young people want to take forward their projects and grow their company.”

In this regard, he further informed us that fifty to sixty companies are operating in our Rawalpindi project and our plan is to take it to two hundred companies by December.

These companies will also integrate with the education sector and they will also work together and take cooperation from other companies as well, he said.

“It is a complete ecosystem that will directly benefit our economy.”

Aerospace Design and Innovation Center

Mr. Ghumman continued by saying that the clusters of Rawalpindi and Karachi will connect with Kamra, which is home to four Pakistan Air Force factories, and comprise local institutions, businesses, technological incubators, and parks, among other things.

A state-of-the-art aerospace design and innovation center is being built there, which will house multiple design centers and facilities, he said.

“There we will train our human resources and there we will do design and development work. That is, we will transform the idea into a design and then make it practical and increase its efficiency. We can not only design our own products but also export them. In addition, we will take this system forward with the Pakistan Air Force and create a Silicon Valleys in different places.”

He said that his main objective is to grow the industry to create jobs. “We will take fresh graduates and train them so that they can come and play their role in the industry. We are creating a training setup where we will take fresh graduates and train them than those who will be good students who want to start up their own companies or projects.”

“Students will come here, they will innovate, that’s why we say Design and Innovate. This is a great opportunity for young people to come and work, because as the industry grows, so will the jobs for the youth.”

“This will also get us foreign investment, he added, whereas, in the post-covid environment, there is a shortage of human resources in the aerospace industry and outside agencies are taking away our good students and we are getting a brain drain. So, when our own industry develops, then these brains will work in their own industry, which will help improve the economy of Pakistan.”

With the speed with which technology is advancing, this is the need of the hour, Mr. Gumman added.

NASTP is very important because it will develop an ecosystem and provide an opportunity where people who are there can come and share their ideas and incubate and develop a system that will not only benefit people but it will also be immensely useful for the country’s economy.

He also said that a technology park is being built at NED University as well.

Regarding air space technology, he said that there are many uses, one is obviously for defense purposes, on which a lot of work is being done in Pakistan, but it has many civilian uses, whether it is drone technology or air taxi. There are experiments going on around the world to see how it can be used for short-distance transportation around the world.

Drones and UAVs can be used in various surveys, whether it is an agricultural survey, a population survey, or a building survey; it’s the national economy that will be the ultimate beneficiary.

“There is a lot of research going on in our university, in which our teachers and students are creating new things together. Our problem is that we cannot commercialize it by licensing it; NASTAP will essentially give you that platform. A platform where you incubate an idea with industry, develop it, commercialize it, bring in investors and work with them to create a product that can be exported. This will eventually benefit the country and the air industry will also look up.”

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