Dear Colleagues!  This is Asrar Qureshi’s Blog Post #737 for Pharma Veterans. Pharma Veterans welcome sharing of knowledge and wisdom by Veterans for the benefit of Community at large. Pharma Veterans Blog is published by Asrar Qureshi on WordPress, the top blog site. Please email to for publishing your contributions here.

These blog posts are based on WIPO – World Intellectual Property Rights Report on Global Innovation Index 2022.

These two posts are dedicated for Pakistan. Comparison with nearby countries shall follow later.


GII Rank #87 – Population 225 million – GDP, PPP 1,157 billion USD – GDP per capita 5,447 USD – Income level, Lower Middle.

Out of 132 countries included in this report, Pakistan stood in the second quartile from the base. It means that Pakistan is very low on the scale of innovation. Given that Pakistanis are usually regarded as mentally smart, hardworking, and capable, why do we get such poor ranking? There are two major reasons: one, many of the brilliant people leave the country to settle abroad and they do good work there, and that work is not credited to Pakistan; two, intelligent people living in Pakistan either do not have enough opportunities or divert their intelligence to wrongdoings. Pakistan had been facing severe brain drain for many years, but now, even skilled/non-skilled workers also want to leave the country. Some of the capable people still living here, are those who work in the digital space and are working for foreign companies online. Innovation may still be there, but it is strangled at every step.

Input Rank #111 – continued

Input is the support for innovation. We are further lower in rank in this area. Let us look at the indicators of Input and our situation.

Business Sophistication #81

  • Knowledge Workers                                       #(101)
    • Knowledge-intensive employment, %                       #102
    • Firms offering formal training, %                              #49
    • GERD* performed by business, %GDP                     Not Available
    • GERD* financed by business, %                               Not Available
    • Females employed w/advanced degrees, %               #108

*GERD is Gross domestic product Expenditure on Research and Development

  • Innovation linkages                                        #60
    • University-industry R&D collaboration                     #32
    • State of cluster development at depth                        #35
    • GERD financed by abroad, %GDP                            #87
    • JVs/strategic alliance deals/bn PPP$GDP                  #50
    • Patent families/bn PPP$GDP                                     #90
  • Knowledge absorption                                    #71
    • Intellectual property payments, % total trade             #73
    • High-tech imports, % total trade                                #22
    • ICT services imports, % total trade                            #80
    • FDI net inflows, % GDP                                            #108
    • Research talent, % in business                                   Not Available

This completes the picture about the inputs which are required for innovation.

Innovation does not come directly through any policy, but a combination of several factors creates the environment which promotes innovation. Massachusetts State in the USA is known to be a place from where most patents are applied every year. Probably most of these are never commercialized for a number of reasons, but the effort continues.

We are facing following issues vis-à-vis innovation in Pakistan.

Government policies are inconsistent and irrelevant. With every change of government, policies are changed, sometimes entirely. Budgets are withdrawn, concessions are rolled back, and projects are lost to apathy. The spending of budget in a province lies exclusively with the chief minister; the opposition and the concerned ministers never say a word about it. The opposition knows they would want to do the same thing when they come into power, so they keep quiet.

The overall level of education and knowledge of our so-called elected representatives is poor. Some don’t have any decent qualification; the others have degree but no learning. Their interest in legislation is non-existent and they simply vote on whatever the party asks. There are few people who keep themselves updated, but their numbers are too small to sway anything.

Corruption of all kinds, financial, moral, ethical, academic, has gotten into our roots. The allocated budgets are embezzled, misused, and wasted. Kickbacks are commissions are integral to buying. Universities of Pakistan, which should have become a vibrant hub of research after all the money doled out by Dr. Ata ur Rehman during his tenure as Head of Higher Education Commission, did not rise to the occasion. These are littered with expensive equipment which is not used. Quality of research is another big issue; it is repetitive, irrelevant, and of no practical value.

We now look at the Output pillars.

Output Rank #69

Knowledge and Technology Outputs #70

  • Knowledge creation                                        # (54)
    • Patents by origin/bn PPP$GDP                                  #87
    • PCT patents by origin/bn PPP$GDP                          Not Available
    • Utility models by origin/bn PPP$GDP                       Not Available
    • Scientific and technical articles/bn PPP$GDP           #40
    • Citable documents H-index                                        #46
  • Knowledge impact                                          #77
    • Labor productivity growth, %                                    #55
    • New businesses/th population, 15-64                         #117
    • Software spending, % GDP                                        #37
    • ISO 9001 quality certificates/bn PPP$GDP               #83
    • High-tech manufacturing, %                                      #60
  • Knowledge diffusion                                      #77
    • Intellectual property receipts, % total trade               #91
    • Production and export complexity                             #91
    • High-tech exports, % total trade                                 #77
    • ICT services exports, % total trade                            #22

Creative Outputs #67

  • Intangible assets                                             #51
    • Intangible asset intensity, top15, %                            #39
    • Trademarks by origin/bn PPP$GDP                          #66
    • Global brand value, top 5000, %GDP                        Not Available
    • Industrial designs by origin/bn PPP$GDP                 #92
  • Creative goods and services                           #108
    • Cultural and creative services export                         #79
    • National feature films/mn population 15-69              #77
    • Entertainment and media market/th pop 15-69          #61
    • Printing and other media, % manufacturing               #77
    • Creative goods export, % total trade                          #104
  • Online Creativity                                            #60
    • Generic top-level domains (TLDs)/th pop 15-69       #105
    • Country code TLDs/th pop 15-69                              #112
    • GitHub commit pushes received/mn pop 15-69         #105
    • Mobile app creation/bn PPP$GDP                             #12

The overview of output is that our innovation is mainly in the digital space. It is an active area, and the only government support is that it does not tax income generated through export of digital products like software, apps, data processing, etc. Our young people are doing a good job though without government patronage.

Incubation center is another tool to bolster innovation. An incubation center invites innovation proposals from people, assesses their viability, and offers support to the selected ones. The support is mostly technical and organizational, but some international VCs offer financial support also. I have been a mentor in couple of incubation centers and I know they are doing a good job. I must say however, that all projects are based on digital applications.

The other areas of innovation such as industrial innovation is largely missing. We are consumers of technology, not the creators.

We can conclude by saying that Pakistan lags behind in innovation in most areas, the notable exception is digital space.

In the next post, we shall briefly look at the comparison and that will make the perspective even more clear.


Disclaimer: Most pictures in these blogs are taken from Google Images and Pexels. Credit is given where known; some do not show copyright ownership. However, if a claim is lodged at any stage, we shall either mention the ownership clearly, or remove the picture with suitable regrets.


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