Peshawar organizes world’s first SynBio Startup Weekend

SynBio Startup Weekend for young Bio-scientists was arranged by Institute of Integrative Biosciences, CECOS University along with Peshawar 2.0, a social enterprise based out of Peshawar, and brought forward many innovative ideas for addressing various problems through Biosciences.

Peshawar adapting to the new tech and entrepreneurship trends

Peshawar’s ecosystem is evolving and it is evident from the fact that numerous events are being arranged every once in a while with huge turnouts. People are welcoming the new trends in technology and entrepreneurship, and are not only adopting them but also riding the bandwagon to build their own technology and startups. This trend is changing how young Bio-scientists are perceived in their industry. 2 teams from Peshawar have already made their mark across the world by bagging a Silver and a Bronze medal at iGEM.

No talk, all action

On Friday evening, the event started with a very energetic keynote from Dr. Faisal Khan, Director of IIB, CECOS, and Co-founder Peshawar 2.0, that boosted the morale of young entrepreneurs.

“This is the first time that a SynBio Startup Weekend has been arranged in Peshawar, and it is the beginning of doing things practically in the field of Biology instead of sticking to the old conventional knowledge of books. Now when the Directorate of Science and Technology as well as CECOS University are providing support to the Bioscientists, there’s no excuse to not work practically on the brilliant ideas of participants.” said Faisal.

Diversity of backgrounds and ideas

Many participants from all across KP pitched ideas. Students from multiple disciplines of renowned institutions including Gomal University, Hazara University, Comsats Abbottabad, Rehman Medical Institute, and UET Peshawar and University of Peshawar participated. Some pitched in ideas to solve the energy crisis with Microbiology, while others aimed to cure diseases by offering solutions from Biotechnology.

After the selection of promising ideas, teams were formed. Some pitched in ideas to solve the energy crisis with Microbiology, while others aimed to cure diseases with bacteria. The participants were coached by mentors from the field of Biotech as well as from leading entrepreneurs in the province and capital.

One of the mentors and Co-Founder Peshawar 2.0 , Salman Ahmed says, “I think Startup Weekend Peshawar Synbio offered a very unique and exciting opportunity to students of biotech to form cross-disciplinary teams and collaborate with individuals from medical, engineering, computer science and get mentored by successful entrepreneurs and experts, and transform their ideas, from theory and books to real-world applications to solve real-world problems.”

Sustainable SynBio startup models

By the end of the weekend, the participants were ready with their SynBio startup models. The panel of jury to evaluate these startups included Amjad Arbab, Senior Advisor to the World Bank on Youth and Entrepreneurship, Waqas Khan, a gaming entrepreneur from Peshawar who is currently working with, and Asad Iqbal, founder and CEO of Hiwaas. They were impressed with the confident participants and their interesting business ideas.

“The participants tried to solve a diverse set of problems, with a major focus on making healthcare more accessible and cost effective, and replacing existing solutions to multiple problems with eco-friendly and cost effective alternatives.” said Waqas Khan.

The event ended after 54 hours, and winners were announced after a successful round of final pitches.

  • Insupill bagged the award for first prize winner along with Community’s favorite award for their idea of making insulin pills.
  • Hep-Detect which was a kit designed to facilitate early hepatitis diagnosis got the 2nd prize.
  • Synthetic Collagen with their idea of a cream to heal skin damage of burn victims.

The best presentation award was given to Green construction, which plans on using algae to create alternate building materials and Power Yogurt got the Best Customer Validation Award.

Sohaib Tanveer, Chairperson of CECOS University announced a cash prize of 25K for first prize winner, 15K for 2nd, and 10K for 3rd prize winner, and Amjad Arbab made an announcement to double the cash price. Along with this, every winner will be getting 6 months free labs’ access at IIB, CECOS, 3 months co-working space by Peshawar 2.0 as well as an interview slot at Revolt by Peshawar 2.0.

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