Pakistani scholar among top 35 global innovators

A scholar from Pakistan has brought laurels to the country after being recognized by the MIT Technology Review as one of the top 35 innovators (TR35) in the world for the year 2011.  Dr Umar Saif is the first Pakistani scholar to have been selected for the prestigious TR35 award in the last decade.

According to the MIT Technology Review website: “Technology Review is an independent media company owned by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) which identifies emerging technologies and analyzes their impact for technology and business leaders—the senior executives, entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, engineers, developers, and researchers who create and fund the innovations that drive the global economy.”

Dr Umar Saif is currently an associate professor at School of Science and Engineering (SSE) in Pakistan’s prestigious Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS).

A press release issued by LUMS reads: “Dr Saif has been honoured for his work on technologies for the developing world. Technologies developed by Dr Saif’s research group and startups are used by millions of people in the developing world, especially BitMate, that enhances the speed of Internet in the developing-world using peer-to-peer technology, and, Pakistan’s largest SMS Social Network which has sent close to four billion SMS for users in Pakistan.”

Mr Umar Saif’s software, ­BitMate, lets different users in the same area pool the bandwidth of their connections to reduce download times, typically by half. It was released in February 2011 and has so far been downloaded more than 30,000 times by people in 173 countries.

LUMS proudly announced on August 23 2011: “Dr Saif joins an elite group of researchers and entrepreneurs selected over the last decade. Previous winners include Larry Page and Sergey Brin, the co-founders of Google, Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook, Jonathan Ive, the chief designer at Apple, David Karp, founder of Tumbler; Harvard Professor Alán Aspuru-Guzik for his work on Quantum computers, and MIT Neuroscientist Ed Boyden, one of the inventors of the emerging field of optogenetics, which makes it possible to control neurons with light.”