Seventy three young Sri Lankans, identified as prospects for the country’s next generation of top entrepreneurs, began their accelerated journey to entrepreneurship in January with the kick-off of the Brandix funded MIT Global Startup Labs’ (MIT-GSL) Sri Lanka programme.
Chosen from over 350 candidates from five participating Sri Lankan universities and other higher educational institutions, these undergraduates and recent graduates will undergo seven months of intense start-up incubation with training by Massachusetts Institute of Technology instructors, Akshita Deora Puram and Amber Houghstow, and on-going industry mentoring facilitated by the Sri Lanka Association of Software and Service Companies (SLASSCOM) and Brandix.
They are to be taken through three phases – ‘Ideate & Test’ from 9th to 27th January; ‘Plan & Create’ from February to May; and ‘Refine & Launch’ between June and August 2014, under the MIT-GSL global entrepreneurship incubator being run by MIT in collaboration with 15 international universities.
Delivering the keynote address on the topic ‘Disruptive Innovation: Examples and opportunities for start-ups’ at the kick-off programme sponsored by Brandix, Group Director Udena Wickremesooriya traced the innovations and improvements that had taken place in the automobile industry since the launch of the first car of Henry Ford.
Holding up an office shirt, he pointed out that it had not been modified since his Grandfather’s time. In addition to the lack of product innovation, he highlighted challenges in manufacturing, logistics, demand forecasting, and more. Hence, there is a huge opportunity in the apparel industry for innovation, Mr Wickremesooriya said, urging participants to explore new frontiers for innovation.
Other speakers at the launch of the programme included Dr Janaka Liyanagama, Deputy Vice Chancellor of the Open University which opened up its new facility to host the sessions and Ruwindhu Peiris, General Secretary of SLASSCOM.
The Brandix Group has pledged to fund the MIT-GSL Sri Lanka programme for five years in collaboration with MIT and SLASSCOM. The programme is to be offered twice a year to second-year or older undergraduates as well as recent graduates of Sri Lankan universities.