AI TechVerse

TechVerse is a flagship Artificial Intelligence extravaganza by the National Centre of Artificial Intelligence (NCAI); wherein two major events: “Artificial Intelligence Ideas Challenge (AIIC)”, Annual NCAI Lab2Market event “AI Expo 2022” takes place.

Event Background

AI TechVerse is the flagship annual event of National Centre of Artificial Intelligence conducted from 21st – 23rd February 2023 at NUST. The three-day event was geared towards providing a platform for students, researchers, spin-offs, startups, and existing AI industries to connect, network and pitch their AI-based ideas and prototypes. Prominent at the opening ceremony were the chief guest Mr Ahsan Iqbal, Federal Minister for Planning, Development & Special Initiatives, and Lt Gen (Retd) Engr Javed Mahmood Bukhari, Rector NUST, while His Excellency Rashid Abdul Rehman Al Zamar, Charge’d Affairs of UAE to Pakistan, graced the closing ceremony as chief guest. An overwhelming number of AI enthusiasts, tech entrepreneurs, investors, and AI startups from around the world converged on NUST Islamabad Campus to share knowledge and experience vis-à-vis Artificial Intelligence (AI) and its related technologies and applications.

National Centre of Artificial Intelligence (NCAI) at NUST organised its flagship initiative AI TechVerse 2021 at the NUST main campus from August 30 to 31, 2021. H.E. Dr Arif Alvi, President Islamic Republic of Pakistan, graced the occasion as chief guest. The event brought together top AI-focused start-ups and innovative minds from across the country and provided them with a platform to showcase their innovative ideas and prototypes. The President visited the Expo and Startup stalls before commencement of the ceremony at the Jinnah Auditorium of the university.

Addressing the audience, the President eulogised NUST and NCAI for conduct of TechVerse, which, he hoped, would give impetus to indigenous development of AI-based technologies, and eventually bode well for import substitution in the domain and hence the national economy. Extolling the Centre for developing technologies in an array of fields, including transportation networks, media analytics, digitisation, healthcare systems, etc, he stressed the need for reaping benefits from the fast-advancing field of AI, which he termed a linchpin of economic development in these epoch-making times. He lauded NUST for transcending itself as a leading S&T university and undertaking mega initiatives of national significance (such as establishment of country’s first-ever S&T Park and facility for manufacturing of heart stents, both of which were inaugurated by H.E. Mr Imran Khan, the Prime Minister of Pakistan). 

 

Federal Minister for Education, Mr Shafqat Mahmood, remarked that digital learning has been around for years but engaging students in learning proved to be a challenge.

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AI Ideas Challenge

AI Ideas Challenge, part of AI TechVerse, welcomes pitches from budding startups and existing small-scale ventures. Shortlisted ideas are presented to expert judges, aiming to attract investors and offer cash prizes. The inaugural edition invited nationwide AI startups for innovative pitches, with top 30 teams competing. Top 3 ideas received cash prizes, others had potential seed funding opportunities. 90 startup ideas vied in this challenge. The second edition’s NCAI Startup Challenge drew 130 submissions, 21 making the final round. LYNXINFOSEC won PKR 1 million for AI Powered Feast after rigorous evaluation.

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AI Voyage

AI Voyage, a pioneering initiative by AI TechVerse 2023, gathers global AI leaders to share their technological journeys and insights. This platform showcases groundbreaking AI developments of great global impact. Attendees engage with tech narratives and network across academia and industry, fostering collaboration. This inclusive space encourages idea exchange and alliances, shaping AI’s future worldwide. The forum’s emphasis on diverse perspectives cultivates an environment ripe for innovation and transformative connections that transcend geographical boundaries.

 

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AI Expo

AI Expo is a component of AI TechVerse that marked the inaugural industry meet and greet event of National Centre of Artificial Intelligence (NCAI). First time in the country’s history, a platform brought together representations from the academic and industry spheres of AI in Pakistan. The event comprised of various networking sessions and talks by internationally acclaimed experts of AI. Innovations in AI and its allied technologies were showcased at the event with representations from the industry, academia and the startup realms of the country to showcase their products and services for potential commercial and opportunities.

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AI TechVerse 2021 Highlights

Figure 3: Executive Director HEC Dr Shaista Sohail
Figure 3: Executive Director HEC Dr Shaista Sohail

However, he said, the advancement of technologies in the fields such as AI, would bring about improvements in personalised learning experiences of students. He opined that instead of teachers catering to learning needs of each student individually, a system where algorithms identify the gaps in a student’s understanding and provide active feedback would be quite effective.
Executive Director HEC Dr Shaista Sohail said that the initiative of NCAI is aligned with the HEC’s vision of modernising varsities. Not only has the Centre been developing solutions to our indigenous problems using the powerful tool of AI, but also positively impacting the lives of society at large.

Earlier in his welcome address, Rector NUST Engr Javed Mahmood Bukari emphasized the importance of AI and highlighted that in a short span of its inception, NCAI has developed as many as 280 indigenous solutions, including Fast Grant Proposal for Covid-19, Forest Monitoring & Change Detection, Audio Data Analysis, Smart Media Monitoring and Analytics, Sentiment Analysis and Urdu Speech Recognition System, Smart Cleaning & Waste Management System, Autonomous Vehicle Localisation System, Pulmonary Tuberculosis System, etc. He further said that in March 2021, NCAI, in collaboration with the Ministry of Science & Technology has inaugurated the smart cities programme, which is geared towards modernising Pakistani cities by introducing various smart products and services. 

Figure 4: Rector NUST Eng Javed Mahmood Bukari
Figure 4: Rector NUST Eng Javed Mahmood Bukari
Figure 5: Central Project Director/Chairman NCAI Prof Dr Yasar Ayaz (Pride of Performance)
Figure 5: Central Project Director/Chairman NCAI Prof Dr Yasar Ayaz (Pride of Performance)

Chairman NCAI, Dr Yasar Ayaz, also apprised the audience of some of NCAI’s initiatives.The two-day event was attended by a large number of students, academics, industrial representatives, entrepreneurs and AI enthusiasts. President of the Islamabad Chamber of Commerce, Sardar Yasir Ilyas Khan, was chief guest for the opening session. AI Techverse 2021 was divided into three main segments. “AI Expo” entailed exhibition of industrial AI-related projects and presentations by some very capable individuals from research labs and NCAI partners. While, the “AI Ideas Challenge” was designed for young entrepreneurial minds to pitch their brilliant ideas within the vast scope of AI, and “Bol AI,” aimed at enhancing public awareness about prospects in the field.