Congratulations to Dr. Umar Saif, a professor at LUMS, who has been recognized by MIT Technology Review amongst`World`s Top 35 Young Innovators for the year 2011 for his peer to peer file sharing software BitMate. By featuring in the list, Saif now joins an elite group of researchers and technologists including the likes of Google’s Sergey Brin and Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg.
MIT Technology Review selects the top innovators after a rigorous evaluation process. The judges, who are leading experts in their fields from universities such as MIT, Stanford and Harvard, consider hundreds of high-impact researchers and entrepreneurs from all over the world, out of which top 35 are chosen for the award. “This year’s group of TR35 recipients is driving the next wave of transformative technology and making an impact on the way we live, work and interact”, said Jason Pontin, editor-in-chief and publisher of the MIT Technology Review.
In the last decade, this is the first time a Pakistani has been selected for the prestigious TR35 award, says a press release issued on Tuesday. “The TR35 recognizes the world’s top 35 young innovators that are radically transforming technology as we know it. Their work – spanning medicine, computing, communications, energy, electronics and nanotechnology — is changing our world,” according to MIT Technology Review.
Dr Saif holds a BSc. from the Lahore University of Management Sciences and Ph.D. in Computer Science from University of Cambridge, where he was a Commonwealth Scholar at Trinity College. Saif is a tenured associate professor at the Lahore University of Management Sciences, Lahore, Pakistan and established one of the first startup incubators in Pakistan, called the Saif Center of Innovation (SCI). Saif’s work on grassroots technologies received the MIT Technovator Award in 2008.
Dr Saif has won numerous awards for his innovative technology solutions for the developing-world. He was named a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum in 2010. He is a recipient of the MIT Technovator Award, Mark Weiser Award, Digital Inclusion Award from Microsoft Research and the IDG Technology Pioneer Award. Before moving to Pakistan, Saif worked at MIT and received a PhD from the University of Cambridge. He is a Fellow of the Cambridge Commonwealth Trust. More.
Saif is working on some incredibly innovative start ups right now.One of his projects, SMSall.pk is like Twitter and it was fanning out at an exponential rate in Pakistan. Othe project uses mobile phone cameras to allow illiterate people to understand English. People can take pictures of English text – newspaper clippings, labels, anything – from any cell phone, MMS it to a number and they will get a call back that that reads out the text to them in Urdu.
Best of all, Pakistan need not fear losing Saif to any other country. Because he has no plans to move his home base out of Pakistan. Even though he spends some time visiting other universities to get some work done, Saif says that he is in Pakistan to stay permanently.