ICTA’s “Disrupt Asia 2018” set to ignite Sri Lanka’s start-up landscape

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Disrupt Asia 2017 was a resounding success and this year the event promises more


  • 3rd edition of the annual event to include an Innovation Festival

Disrupt Asia 2018, the third edition of Sri Lanka’s Premier Start-up Conference and Innovation Festival, is set to take place on 11 August at the Trace – Expert City from 4 p.m. to midnight.

Organised by the Information and Communication Technology Agency of Sri Lanka (ICTA), the event is supported by the Ministry of Telecommunication, Digital Infrastructure and Foreign Employment, International Partner – IKT Norge, Knowledge Partner – PWC, Supporting Partners GIZ Sri Lanka and Trace – Expert City, Payments Partner – PayHere, Volunteer Partner – GudPpl, Eco System Partner – SLASSCOM, Makerspace Partner – Igniter Space, Social Innovation Partner UNDP Sri Lanka and Hosting Partner Calcey Technologies.

Disrupt Asia 2018 is the third edition of this event and is now the most looked forward to event in the start-up ecosystem in the country. While the event will stay true to its theme of entrepreneurship the notable difference this year is the addition of an “Innovation Festival”. This festival will showcase innovations from different fields and for different demographics to promote the innovation ecosystem which is a key pillar of Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics (STEAM).

The Conference will consist of four main sections – Main Stage, Stage Two, Investor Forum and Workshops – that will take place in parallel. The Main Stage will kick-off with an Opening Keynote by Glenn Robinson – Managing Director of XLr8 Andhra Pradesh Technology Business Accelerator (University of Texas at Austin extension), followed by presentations by local and foreign experts on various topics. These will be followed by the Disrupt Asia 2018 Start-up Battle Grand Finale and the Closing Keynote by Nick Marino Jr. – Director of Social Change at TangoTab, a social start-up based out of Texas, USA. The Start-up Battle is a competition where entrepreneurs will pitch their start-up and the top 3 selected in the preliminary rounds will pitch at the Grand Finale of the Disrupt Asia Start-up Battle on the Main Stage of Disrupt Asia. The winners of the Disrupt Asia 2018 Start-up Battle will receive cash prizes and the chance to participate in the Oslo Innovation Week 2018 in September. Applications for the Startup Battle are now open at www.disruptasia.today/startupbattle. 

Expressing his views on the event, ICTA Chairman Prof. Rohan Samarajiva stated, “Entrepreneurship and innovation are key elements of rapid socioeconomic development in the 21st Century.  Disrupt Asia 2018 will be a festival of innovation and entrepreneurial thinking that will connect science, technology, engineering and mathematics in everyday life. Tech start-ups have already made a significant impact in Sri Lanka. This year’s event will promote creativity in all its forms and increase the momentum. We will welcome all to experience the technology of today and to re-imagine the possibilities of tomorrow by participating in Disrupt Asia 2018 on 11 August 2018.”

The Innovation Festival at Disrupt Asia 2018 will showcase many technology innovations from Sri Lanka and also include works of art and digital activations that the public can experience and interact with. In addition, the Disrupt Asia Start-up Expo will be where technology start-ups will be allowed to showcase their products to the attendees of the conference and visitors of the Innovation Festival. 

The investor forum will be exclusively for professionals who wish to invest in technology startups. Participants will get an understanding of the ecosystem, legal procedures applicable to startup funding and an opportunity to engage with seasoned angel investors

The first Disrupt Asia took place in 2016 to address the main reasons behind the failures of a number of technology related start-ups in Sri Lanka – not having the proper guidance/mentoring as well as the difficulties faced due to financial issues. Keeping this in mind, it brought together some of the best in the tech start-up ecosystem as well as start-up veterans to share their experiences with new start-up founders and address many burning questions budding entrepreneurs have. The event was attended by nearly 350 start-ups, entrepreneurs, corporates, students and media while 42 speakers including five from Silicon Valley. Building on the success of the inaugural event, Disrupt Asia 2017 was organised and was a resounding success where in addition to the existing features of the event, an academic forum, workshops for entrepreneurs and investor speed dating were also added.