In a historic move to help Sri Lankan inventors commercialise their products, the Sri Lanka Inventors Commission entered into a MOU with the Lanka Angel Network, a platform for angel and private investors who invest in high growth early stage Sri Lankan ventures.
Under this arrangement SLIC will be introducing promising inventors who want to commercialise their inventions and priority is being given to those who were affected during the Sahasak Nimevum Exhibition.
Once introduced the inventors will have to present their ideas and go through a stringent and rigorous selection process by a panel of experts of LAN.
LAN provides mentorship and funding for the entrepreneurs, streamlined deal flow and structured guidance for the investors until exit and is passionate about empowering entrepreneurs.
This is a concept that is very popular in North America and most developed economies, including India and Malaysia. This has been the main source of funding for innovative business ideas even in Silicon Valley, USA. World famous business such as Google and Facebook were all first supported by far-sighted angel investors.
Angel investors invest in inventive entrepreneurs. Since these are high risk ventures, the traditional funding methods such as debt capital are not the best root. Angel investors pick projects where they have some expertise or affiliation.
While providing funding they also provide much-needed guidance for the inventor and consider the entrepreneurial spirit of the candidate even more than the uniqueness of the proposition. Once the business is successful they choose either to remain in the business or to exit from it by realising their investment.
In 2013 LAN raised over Rs. 175 million for 12 start-ups in Sri Lanka. In comparison the average funds raised among angel groups internationally is approximately US$ 2.5 million.
LAN organises its activities around eight clusters it has identified to make efforts more focused.
The eight clusters are as follows:
1. ICT (SaaS, ecommerce, online payments, gaming, Mobile & Telco VAS)
2. Tourism and Leisure
3. Knowledge, Learning and Education services
4. Energy (Renewable, Solar, etc.)
5. Fashion, Design, Retail and Consumer
6. Health Care, Pharmaceuticals and Biotechnology
7. Discrete and Process Manufacturing, Nanotechnology, 3D Printing
8. Agriculture, Supply Chain, Logistics, Shipping, Transportation, Packaging
Each of the eight clusters will be coordinated by a LAN Board member who will have either an insight or an interest in a particular area. Each cluster will focus on developing links to entrepreneurs, institutions, and support organisations relevant to a particular cluster. The target for each cluster is at least three deals per year.