(FICS) is a flagship program of the National University of Sciences & Technology (NUST) that encourages Undergraduate and Postgraduate students to devise technology-based solutions focusing on social problems.  In line with NUST’s mission to promote innovation, entrepreneurship, and commercialization, FICS as a concept, aligns well with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).  FICS 2020 was officially launched in Oct 2019.

FICS goes back to 2013 when it started in the NUST School of Electrical Engineering & Computer Science (SEECS). From there, it has come a long way to where it stands today, an intra NUST program spread over 6 campuses and 18 constituent Schools, Colleges and Institutes. A three stage program, FICS is very closely aligned with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) where the projects submitted were categorized according to the university-relevant 15 SDGs. In Stage 1 (Online Idea Submission), FICS Program received 231 innovative projects from 14 Schools, Colleges & Institutes of NUST that includes, PNEC, CEME, MCE, MCS, NBS, S3H, RCMS, SEECS, SCEE, USPCAS-E, ASAB, SCME, SNS and SMME, in 15 SDGs, out of 17. FICS competition comprises 3 stages.

  1. In Stage 1, student teams submit project synopsis of their unique ideas with positive social impact. Subsequently, the ideas shortlisted in Stage 1 make it to the next stage.
  2. In Stage 2the student teams present their ideas to a wider audience in the form of PowerPoint presentation. The judges at this stage include Industry Partners and NUST Alumni; they assess the impact and practicability of the project ideas, and ability to be commercialized.
  3. In the 3rd and Final Stageof the competition, the teams shortlisted in Stage 2 present working prototypes of their solution (alternatively, students can display plant design, equipment design, product design or process design). The judges evaluate the prototypes on various parameters and select the best projects, which are given cash prizes (depending on the projects presented at Stage 3).Before the culmination of Stage 1, 06x Idea Generation Sessions were organized for prospective FICS participants. The objective of these interactive sessions was to invite top professionals from the Industry to give a motivational talk to the students; urge them to come forward and participate wholeheartedly; and also identify pertinent social issues where a student can devise some technical solution to address any particular problem(s).

146 project ideas were further qualified for FICS‘20 Stage 2 exclusive events held in each School & College during Feb-Mar 2020 timeframe. Out of 146, 105 teams presented their project ideas to a panel of 48 Industry & Alumni Judges.  In total 53 project teams have been selected in 14 SDGs for the 3rd and final Stage of FICS 2020. Each team will demonstrate the prototype of their technology-based innovative solution to the Industry Judges during the final stage of the program. It is also very pertinent to mention here that so far 46 IPs have been filed which is a huge landmark this year.

FICS has been fortunate to get patronage for SDG categories from a diverse set of industries, in addition to the Prototype Development Fund sponsored by the National Radio Telecommunication Corporation (NRTC). FICS’20 Sponsors and Partners, includes National Radio Telecommunication Company (NRTC), Askari Welfare Trust (AWT), Reenergia Enhar Pakistan, Arkitech, Rastgar Engineering Pvt. Ltd., Alfoze Technologies Pvt Ltd and Graana Pvt Ltd.

The program enjoys tremendous support from Industry in generating projects, providing mentorship to student teams, supporting the commercialization of solutions, and providing funding for the program. All these efforts are consolidated to provide a complete ecosystem for the students and faculty, with an ultimate aim of solutions deployment and development of social enterprises.

FICS, since its first edition a few years back, has been keeping with the legacy of being the home for the evolvement of the work being done on the SDGs within NUST. FICS as the years have gone by has become even more inclusive and competitive. This does not only underscore the quantitative as well as qualitative growth of the programme, but also bear testimony to the growing cooperation between cross-functional disciplines. FICS projects, have also been getting headlines, both nationally and internationally, for their novelty and impeccability. There are a number of success stories, which have emanated from FICS and surmounted national and international competitions, thus adding numerous feathers to NUST’s cap.

Keeping the strategic framework of SDGs as the guiding force for FICS, we at NUST hope that FICS and its outcomes, in the form of high-social-impact technological products and services, will eventually contribute to socioeconomic development at a national level, by bringing together the four important elements of the quadruple helix model, namely Academia, Industry, Government, and Society.