The popularization of inquiry based science, technology and university-industry collaboration
- Name: Prof. Dr. Manzoor H Soomro
- Position: President
- Organization: ECOSF
- The Innovative Approach
PhDs in sciences mostly spend life in teaching, research and positioning up to vice chancellor level.
He did PhD and inventions too but he spent the life producing collaborations in science. He dedicated himself for science popularization, science commercialization and particularly promotion of scientific thinking in school students. He served the same in Pakistan and many other countries.
Why he adopted a different path than conventional one, gaining few things but sacrificing a lot?
- The Pre-Entrepreneurial
Dr. Manzor was born to a middle class family lived in the village around Khairpur, Sindh. He was a born-intelligent and secured many positions and medals in his academic career. He was a dedicated researcher and has credit of diagnosing two diseases as Banana Bunchy Top Virus (BBTV) and Powdery Scab of Potato in Pakistan.
Despite of exceptionally bright academic career, nobody knew that Dr. Manzoor has been picked to make science easy and reachable for thousands of young minds.
He went to UK for PhD and did his doctorate in agriculture from University of Reading, UK. His exposure and experience in UK seems to be influencing on continuing career in science management instead of science teaching. At first he joined as
Professor in Agriculture University Tandojam, Sindh but soon left for science management in Islamabad.
Choosing a less trod, difficult path over simple, well ridden career path made him a historic, entrepreneurial leader of science in Pakistan. The friends of Dr. Manzoor say “He got the God-gifted-abilities of leading in science. He loves to have new ventures and intervention to promote science culture in Pakistan”.
- The Start of Entrepreneurial Journey
Dr. Manzoor started the job in Pakistan Science Foundation- PSF where he got the opportunity to plan and initiative many new programs. Soon, he got the opportunity to serve international scientific organization and went on a short term leave to experience it. This is the place where entrepreneurial leadership qualities hidden in Dr. Manzoor got polished and exposed.
His national experience in PSF is now combined with practical experience of working with international team of scientists in agriculture field. He joined FAO for policy related analysis in pesticide sector and implementation of integrated pest management. He has some discoveries on his credit but here he learned the people and community perspective of science and developed passion in it.
He joined PSF back in 2004 and started working on the grounds yet untouched. Unlike other scientific officers, he used to spend extra time in thinking and planning for some new. He used to interact with outside community to see how science can serve them. He used to listen and understand the society side of the science. He also used to interact with civil services officers and politicians to read their mind set and help them understand about the importance of science in the society. In his part of the world (Pakistan), stakeholders mostly complain due to inadequate interaction and understanding of each other. The society, the scientific community and government persons all have doubt, complain and trust deficit which hinders their friendly interaction.
The destiny blessed Dr. Manzoor with triple helix mindset. He was free of perception ills and people from all trades of life enjoy interaction with him. This made Dr. Manzoor an entrepreneurial leader who innovated many useful interventions and made a lasting impact.
- The Demonstration of Entrepreneurial Leadership – Science Popularization
We have observed in our four years note-taking and observation that there is one thing any can use to engage Dr. Manzoor any time. That thing is nothing but science popularization. In one of our programs Dr. Manzoor said; “Dears, I am around 60s and you cannot change me. Please work on schools students and teach them how to think scientifically. Start developing innovators from the school level through inquiry based science”. He initiated Inquiry based science project in collaboration with French government. Under this project, the stakeholders including teachers and students are trained across the Pakistan on how to learn science practically, by doing it and by understanding it. The science popularization centers were set up in big cities. The mobile science expo was very unique and was an innovative project to give orientation about science and real life to the schools’ students of remote areas. The very much equipped vans were prepared with scientific tools and gadgets to create fun and science learning for students. This is the very successful project of Pakistan Science Foundation for science popularization.
Dr. Manzoor H Soomro is now an internationally known advocate for inquiry based science learning and science popularization.
- The Demonstration of Entrepreneurial Leadership – Natural Sciences Linkage Program- NSLP
NSLP Program was signed between USA and Pakistan for 500 million (PKR) to support agriculture research. Dr. Manzoor was chief scientific officer and responsible to implement and execute this program. The endowment fund was created and projects were supported from the earnings. This is one of the successful funding projects of Pakistan as fund is very sustainable in nature. 100s of research projects are funded and executed by the scientists of universities and R&D organizations.
Dr. Manzoor introduced a workshop to train academic scientists on how to write projects for PSF. This was very innovative workshop where projects reviewers and member of technical committee themselves trained people to win funds.
- The Demonstration of Entrepreneurial Leadership – UIP Program
Dr. Manzoor believed in utility of science for the good of common people. He was DG PASTIC when he initiated University-Industry Partnership Program with Institute of Research Promotion. This was first in kind public private partnership to promote university-industry collaborations. The partnership was institutionalized by MoU signed by Dr. Manzoor H Soomro from PSF-PASTIC and Abid Shirwani from IRP. Dr. Manzoor appointed Dr. Saima Tanveer as focal person and built capacity of regional PASTIC offices to run UIP Program. This program was later on carried by his predecessor Dr. Akram Shaikh also.
Dr. Manzoor was a truly entrepreneurial science leader and therefore supported this UIP Program utmost. Dr. Manzoor used to travel a lot, capitalize lot of references, take personal level pain and try his best to make UIP programs successful. Under UIP Program by PSTIC and IRP, symposiums and exhibitions were arranged in various chambers of commerce and industries. Almost all the major cities were covered under this program. The innovative projects from academia were invited for display in the premises of Chamber of Commerce and Industries. The industries were invited to visit the academic projects and pick the relevant and potential one according to their needs. The symposiums were organized by PASTIC, IRP and respective chamber of commerce and industries. This program created a high impact in Pakistan in three areas (1) identification of potential industry problems (2) identification of potential relevant scientists and (3) introduction and awareness of academia-industry potential areas of collaboration.
The trust deficit of industry was reduced significantly through continuous interaction and sharing of their problems with academia. Academia also got a platform to interact and learn about industry problems.
Thanks to entrepreneurial leader and his team.
- The Demonstration of Entrepreneurial Leadership – Industry Linkages Program
The industry linkages program was established in PSF. Dr. Manzoor after joining as chairman PSF decided to strengthen this program and started innovative initiatives. Dr. Manzoor brought Dr. Mirza Habib a very competent person and passionate for science impact as program head. Innovation Summit is a highly innovative project conceived during this period under this program. The idea was presented by CEO IRP in common meeting with Dr. Manzoor Soomro as chairman PSF and Dr. Mujahid Kamran as VC, University of the Punjab in VC office of Punjab University. The idea was appreciated and ensured the support of these institutions. First innovation summit was organized by Punjab University in June 2012. To date 15 innovation summits have been organized in four provinces of Pakistan. The summit has become the largest R&D networking platform for Pakistan. 1000s of students, scientists and industrialists, funding agencies, government officials, politicians and other stakeholders interact with each other through technology sessions and innovation expo.
Innovation summit is indebted to the support of entrepreneurial leader Dr. Manzoor Soomro. The successor chairmen continued their support and collaboration under the leadership of Dr. Mirza Habib.
- The Demonstration of Entrepreneurial Leadership – ECO SF
The PSF experience of Dr. Manzoor H Soomro was a truly entrepreneurial with lot of exposure and understanding about international world of science. He signed number of MoUs with international agencies during his chairmanship. He also developed very positive collaborations with partners and stakeholders. This made him the best candidate to lead inter-government organization called ECO countries science foundation (ECOSF). He is elected president ECOSF twice and launched number of programs and interventions to promote science culture in these 10 ECO countries. There is high impact of this program on these countries as scientific community including minister level officials interacted with each, shared resources and developed very positive working relations. This has led to many joint projects among ECO countries.
We are thankful to Dr. Manzoor Soomro for making Pakistan proud for leading ECOSF.
He is also part of International Board of STI under UNESCO (ISTIC) and Global Council of Science Education Program (SEP) of the Inter-Academy Panel (IAP).
- The Summary
He is an entrepreneurial leader in science who made many innovations happened after doing his own inventions too. In Pakistan his impact of science popularization and R&D collaboration will be part of remaining history. Pakistan has 12000 plus scientists; half of them are foreign qualified but not even 12 to manage science. He is the successful role model for those who like to manage, promote and apply science. The French Government awarded him “Order of Academic Palms” and appointed him as “Officier.
He also serves on the board of 13 National Centres of Excellence in Pakistan. He is the great science leader and the scientists having six industrial patents, nine gene sequences, science documentaries and more than 100 publications including papers and books.