Robin Butler, Partner and Head Impact, Sturgeon Capital, Visits LUMS to Discuss Opportunities for Start-ups and Entrepreneurship in Pakistan
Robin Butler visited the National Incubation Center (NIC) at LUMS on January 25, 2022, to interact with start-ups and explore the entrepreneurial landscape of the country. Mr. Butler is the Partner and Head Impact at Sturgeon Capital, a London-based investment boutique that focuses on building leading tech businesses in frontier markets.
As part of his visit, he met with LUMS leadership and faculty, including Vice Chancellor, Dr. Arshad Ahmad; Interim Provost, Dr. Tariq Jadoon; Dean, Syed Babar Ali School of Science and Engineering, Dr. Muhammad Sabieh Anwar; Director, Office of Advancement, Nuzhat Kamran; Director, Rausing Executive Development Centre, Dr. Zain Khawaja, and Adjunct Faculty, Saima Mujtaba Rana, at the Executive Dining Hall. Members of the NIC Foundation Council were also present.
Mr. Butler explained that his firm works in markets in different parts of the world such as China, South East Asia, Central Asia and Eastern Europe. He also elaborated on his purpose for visiting Pakistan, “It has been kind of a blockbuster year for start-ups in 2021. We wanted to track the work on the ground level, to see what the substance is behind the hype. This trip is part of a broader mandate, which includes Pakistan and Bangladesh to build a better understanding of the ecosystem - in terms of where, when and how we should be investing and the kind of value we can bring.”
Dr. Ahmad shared that despite LUMS being a young university, it has come very far in a short span of time. “If you ask us, we’re a start-up too. In the scheme of university trajectories that are hundreds if not thousands of years old, we’re just 35 years old. We have already positioned ourselves in the country and our ambition is to position ourselves in the region, and the rankings or recognition that have come to us speak volumes about the kind of work we’ve done here.”
Acknowledging the global importance of the East because of its demographics and markets, Dr. Ahmad explained that LUMS plays a vital role as a South Asian university. “LUMS is where ideas get commercialized and there is potential not only for VC Capital but also social enterprises. Just recently, we partnered with the University of Baltistan, where 300 students will be co-taught five courses on some promising areas including entrepreneurship, e-commerce, smart agriculture, energy and life sciences. This kind of collaboration and experimentation is very rare in Pakistan.”
He also provided an overview of the LUMS National Outreach Programme with Mr. Butler, and reiterated that an important part of the University’s vision is to open its doors to talented individuals from all parts of Pakistan regardless of their financial circumstances.
Mr. Butler shared that inclusion is a common goal between Sturgeon Capital and LUMS. He shared, “We look to partner with universities or colleges to provide scholarships, just as you’re already doing, for students who would otherwise not have access to education.” He expressed his pleasure with the visit and discussed opportunities for collaboration.