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Ph.D. University of Cambridge

Post-doc MIT

Founder and CEO, SurveyAuto.com

Chief Digital Officer, Jang/Geo Media Group

Chief Investment Officer, Khudi Ventures

UNESCO Chair for ICTD

Dr. Umar Saif is the founder and CEO of SurveyAuto.com. He works as the Chief Digital Officer of the Jang/Geo group and the Chief Investment Officer of Khudi Ventures, an investment fund setup to support mid-stage startups in Pakistan. He is also an advisor to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Pakistan.

 

Previously, Dr. Saif was a cabinet member in Government of Punjab and served as the Chairman of the Punjab Information Technology Board (PITB). His work led to a radical digital transformation of the government in Punjab and several of his initiatives were replicated throughout the country. He was the founding Vice Chancellor of ITU and established it as one of premier technology universities in Pakistan. Dr. Saif founded Plan9, Pakistan’s first government-backed startup incubator, as well as Punjab’s e-rozgaar program. He is often cited as one of the main forces behind Pakistan's startup ecosystem.

 

Dr. Saif received his PhD in Computer Science in 2001 at University of Cambridge and worked at MIT for several years before returning to Pakistan. He was the first Pakistani to be named as one of the top 35 young innovators in the world by the MIT Technology Review (TR35) and the first Pakistani to receive a Google faculty research award in 2011. He was selected as a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum in 2010. He has received the MIT Technovator Award, Mark Weiser Award, IDG Technology Pioneer Award and the British Council Outstanding Alumni Award. Dr. Saif was awarded Sitara-i-Imtiaz in 2014, one of the highest civil awards by government of Pakistan. He was named among the 500 most influential Muslims in the world consecutively between 2015-2020. In 2018, he was awarded the UNESCO Chair for using ICT for Development. Dr. Saif has founded several technology companies and serves on the board of various private, public and financial institutions. 

Awards and Honours

  • UNESCO ICTD Chair (2018)
     

  • British Council Outstanding Alumni Award (2017)
     

  • 500 Most Influential Muslims in the World (2015 - 2020)
     

  • Sitara-i-Imtiaz by Government of Pakistan (one of the highest civil awards of Pakistan) (2014) 
     

  • ACM CHI Best Paper Award (2013)
     

  • Google Faculty Research Award (2011)
     

  • MIT Top 35 Young Innovators in the World (TR 35) (2011)
     

  • Young Global Leader, World Economic Forum (2010)
     

  • MIT Technovator Award (2008)
     

  • Mark Weiser Best Paper Award (2008)
     

  • IDG CIO Technology Pioneer Award (2008)
     

  • ACM/IEEE ICTD Best Paper Paper (2007)

  • Microsoft Research (MSR) Digital Inclusion Award (2006)
     

  • National Commonwealth Scholar, University of Cambridge (1998)