ISLAMABAD - Dr Sohail Naqvi, Executive Director Higher Education Commission said that the Innovation Strategy Working Group was the perfect forum for highlighting the importance and awareness of innovation as its remains absent from the general discourse in Pakistan. The Innovation Strategy Working Group, a new initiative of the Competitiveness Support Fund, discussed various crosscutting issues on the importance of innovation as a driver of competitiveness and economic growth at its first meeting today (Wednesday) via videoconference at the HEC. While chairing the meeting Sohail Naqvi said that the time was ripe to look at the entire ecosystem for innovation and entrepreneurship and then take it to the next level, adding that work had been done on innovation and entrepreneurship in Pakistan but not through a cohesive effort and that it had been in bits and parts. Dr. Naqvi said the Strategy Working Group had a very ambitious task ahead of it and would be dedicated to bringing all concerned on board. The Competitiveness Support Fund (CSF), a joint initiative of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Ministry of Finance, Pakistan, took the decision to initiate the Strategy Working Group, as there is no comprehensive policy or strategy to assist the government in collaborating with academia and the private sector to foster innovation across the country. Arthur Bayhan, Chief Executive Officer, CSF, said the task ahead of the Strategy Working Group was a multi-faceted one as apparently there are no innovation systems at the federal, regional and local levels. Perspective is lacking and although work is being done, it is in isolation, he added. He also said it was important that technology development centers be set up. Bayhan elaborated that the time had come to draft an innovation policy .He said the Strategy Working Group should make this a priority and ensure it reaches the implementation stage. The CSF chief said the initiative was a long-term one and required serious attention. The meeting was participated in by a number of R&D institutes and Universities, including Balochistan University, Agriculture University Faisalabad, MIT Enterprise Forum, ICT R&D Fund, and USAID among others. Some of the representatives participated in the meeting from various cities via video conferencing. The participants discussed the importance of innovation as a driver of economic growth, the World Economic Forums Global Competitiveness Report, the funding of institutional support for Research and Development, awareness at the private and public sector levels as well as in universities and educational institutions, governmental role through a comprehensive innovation policy that includes concerted efforts for institutional, technical and regulatory assistance and a national innovation framework to stimulate dialogue around policies and strategic interventions that boost innovation, productivity and economic growth with the aim of improving overall competitiveness of the national economy.