Launch of “Disrupt Asia 2018” from left: CrowdIsland CEO Chalinda Abeykoon, ICTA Project Officer Nevindaree Premarathne, ICTA Senior Consultant Indika De Zoysa, ICTA Chairman Prof. Rohan Samarajiva, ICTA Project Manager Sachindra Samararathne and “Disrupt Asia 2018” program Manager Ahamed Nishadh
By Shannon Jayawardena
Disrupt Asia 2018, Sri Lanka’s start-up conference and innovation festival is set to kick-off next month while influencing and driving entrepreneurship thinking. The series of events is to take place on 11 August at the Trace Expert City.
The third edition, organised by the Information and Communication Technology Agency of Sri Lanka (ICTA) will commence from 4 p.m.-12 a.m. as a form of setting new trends and inspiring innovation among all age groups. This year will be focused on broadening the start-up landscape of the country while inspiring the next wave of growth.
ICTA Chairman Prof. Rohan Samarajiva said: “We have been talking for many years about the need to improve export performance and one of the key areas that have been highlighted in the strategy is IT and IT enabling services. We need to think about any technology that has got the knowledge and service at the centre.”
The Professor also emphasised on the fact that the country’s export performance has been dropping and Sri Lanka is no longer a low cost country, which means that anybody who is exporting from the region has to be innovative, adding more value to the dollar than their competitors. Hence a completely different mind-set needs to be driven in terms of entrepreneurship.
Samarajiva believes that Disrupt Asia will foster that new mind-set, focused on new enterprises and start-ups. The disruptive market of over 21 million people is not the optimal size and the country must think bigger and think innovative, he insisted.
The conference will invite several experts from Sri Lanka, USA, UK, Netherlands and India to share their knowledge on AI, digital marketing and security which will set the stage for disruptive thinking around STEAM education, creative industries and social entrepreneurship.
ICTA Industry Development Program Manager Sachindra Samararatne stated: “This year is all about change and will have a new aspect to it. Last year it was very tech focused with around 450 participants but this year the community together has brought in the aspects of a festival to make innovation accessible to all.”
The innovation festival will be entrance free and will showcase many technology innovations from the country itself and will also include works of art and digital activations that the public can engage and experience. Likewise the Start-up Expo will enable innovators to showcase their products to the attendees of the conference and the public.
This year will also host an Investor Forum which will be held exclusively for professionals who wish to invest in technology start-ups. Participants will be guided with its related legal aspects and will gain insights on start-up financing among others, through knowledge sharing sessions conducted by angel investors, a panel discussion and several hands on workshops.
Finally Disrupt Asia will host its annual Start-up Battle which is a competition where entrepreneurs will get the opportunity to pitch their ideas and innovations. The final three selected in the preliminary rounds will pitch at the grand finale and the winner will ultimately receive a cash prize and get the chance to participate at the Oslo Innovation Week 2018 which is to be held in September.
The event is supported by the Ministry of Telecommunication, Digital Infrastructure and Foreign Employment, with IKT Norge as its international partner, PWC as the knowledge partner and GIZ Sri Lanka and the Trace Expert City as the supporting partners.
PayHere will be the event’s Payments Partner while, GudPpl, SLASSCOM, Igniter Space, IdeaHell, UNDP Sri Lanka, Calcey Technologies, Orange Electric, WSO2, CodeGen and Gamer.LK will be member partners as well. Pic by Upul Abayasekara