In early March 2020, the kick-off of the TAKE-UP project was held at the Government College University Lahore. The three-year project was initiated by German Saarland University (UdS) in partnership with Athens University of Economics and Business (AUEB) and is being funded by the Erasmus+ programme of the European Union. It is a capacity-building project to develop entrepreneurial universities in Pakistan by intervening in the entrepreneurial ecosystem of Government College University Lahore, COMSATS University Islamabad, University of Gujarat, and Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS) and developing entrepreneurial models for enabling students to take up entrepreneurship as a career alternative. An interesting component of TAKE-UP is the establishment of Fabrication Labs at these universities. This is designed to promote maker culture and provide an environment for developing products that can be fashioned to solve problems by innovators and entrepreneurs.
Under the lead of Dr Cornelius Konig, Professor of Industrial Psychology at Saarland University and project coordinator Dr Nida Bajwa from Saarland University, representatives from all universities as well as further institutional representatives came together to get to know each other and discuss the first steps of the projects and its overall timeframe.
GCU Vice Chancellor Prof Dr Asghar Zaidi said that instead of policing students, universities must empower them: “Training for entrepreneurship is about changing the mindset of our graduates, in which they transform themselves from job seekers to job creators.” He emphasized that Pakistan’s education system should be moving away from an input system to an output-based system. Prof Zaidi appreciated that under the TAKE-UP project, four local universities had joined hands and formed a partnership with two foreign universities. He said that the project was aimed at uplifting the potential of Pakistani universities in the area of entrepreneurship, especially the development of entrepreneurial skills in students by improving the coaching process of students with strong entrepreneurial intentions.
Dr Cornelius Koenig said that the objectives of this three-year project included assessment of entrepreneurial culture, development of strategic action plans and coaching materials, establishing e-learning platforms, and publishing best practices. He said that there was not enough mentoring and encouragement for youth to become entrepreneurs in Pakistan.
Overall the project aims at developing a sustainable entrepreneurship culture in Pakistan where knowledge transfer is enabled through a train-the-trainer program and a national entrepreneurship network is established that is linked to international experts.