By Tharushi Natasha
The IEEE Innovation Nation (IN) program marked its third successful year since its inception in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) back in 2016 with the target of strengthening the economies of developing countries by facilitating entrepreneurs. The third year marked a special inclusion when the event expanded beyond Europe, to Asia. Sri Lanka, a country that has noticeable similarities to the history of BiH, was chosen as the growth space to expand the reach of IN globally. IEEE Innovation Nation Sri Lanka (INSL) 2018 was launched with the goal of providing training, mentoring and financial support to budding entrepreneurs of the island to take their idea to the next level. The program achieved beyond its expectations by getting well established in the entrepreneurial space in the country and being well received by the audience, proving that the IN model can certainly grow in the global level. At the end of the rigorous program this year, we were able to add around 30 young enthusiastic individuals to the Sri Lankan workforce, who are fully trained in all related areas, to start a successful business venture on their own.
INSL 2018 was a journey that spanned for more than a year! From getting the committed volunteers together, selecting teams, conducting workshops and finally, the culmination of the event – the grand finale. Here’s a video summarising the entire journey from selecting teams to hosting the grand finale.
Journey up-to the finals
The initial call for applications went out mid-April, 2018 and an introductory session was held to spread awareness among potential participants. At the end of the application period, we had an overwhelming response of more than 50 teams applying to take part in the event. 10 teams were selected in the “initial screening” to go ahead with the training and get the chance to pitch at the grand finale. We were able to carry out eight workshops spanning the whole creative process of providing business and technical training to our contestants. Industrial professionals and companies from all over the country contributed towards the success of this initiative. A mid evaluation was held halfway through the workshops to fine-tune their skills.
After months of constant training workshops and evaluations, the Grand Finale of the competition was held in association with IEEE Sri Lanka Section Student/Young Professionals/Women in Engineering Congress 2018 on 29th of December 2018 at the Sri Lanka Technological Campus, Padukka. The Judges for the finale were Eranda Ginige, Founder of Social Enterprising Lanka, Ahamed Nishadh, Project Manager at ICTA Sri Lanka, and Chamara Gomes, Associate Consultant at PricewaterhouseCoopers Sri Lanka. Moreover, they were joined by the Winners of IEEE Innovation Nation Bosnia and Herzegovina 2017 and Co-founders of VVSSL – Vertical Wind Turbine With Self-Aligning Wind Redirectors, Silmija Ferizović Topoljak and Harun Ferizović. At the finale, the teams got 10 minutes to pitch their idea which was followed by a round of questions by the judges. The ideas of the teams were as follows;
- Team GopherBots: A mobile application which allows the user to order and customize the meals that they want from the app and send that data to a food hut.
- Team Quarks: An application to make the process of raising funds in a natural disaster scenario or similar national crisis more effectively.
- Team Dominators: Ayu+, an application which has the capability to scan parts of the body (eyes, nails, tongue, skin) in order to accurately diagnose a patient.
- Web Nirmana: ‘Work It’, a web application that helps people to get to know about simple part-time jobs that are available around their premises.
- RxH5: An app called SiFi which will allow you to connect to a hotspot of a nearby mobile phone having SiFi.
- Phoenix: Geneson Sole, a shoe sole integrated with 2 kinds of mobile apps which helps tremendously in medical and sports fields to manage wounds on feet.
- Farmland: A platform to connect farmers, distributors and buyers of the food crop.
The winner and the runners-up teams of the Competition were Team Phoenix, Team Farmland and Team Dominators respectively. The winners were announced at the IEEE Sri Lanka Section Awards Night, which was held later that evening.
The winners were awarded cash prices of 100 000 LKR, 60 000 LKR and 40 000 LKR respectively. Together with that, the winner was awarded a free business valuation worth over 300 000 LKR from PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) Sri Lanka while all the teams were awarded 80 hours of mentoring, support to secure funds and business acceleration. Furthermore, StartupX Foundry offered 50 hours, 30 hours and 20 hours of mentoring to the winning teams.
There were ideas that had the true potential to effectively impact the Sri Lankan Economy. It is this potential, that truly envisions the vision of INSL! The event would not have been a success if not for all our wonderful sponsors and partners that were with us throughout the process. We sincerely thank them for their contributions and their dedication to the common cause together with us.
The workshops generated a wealth of knowledge and we managed to record them for future reference.
Visit the “events” section of our website using THIS link to access all the resources.
With this, the INSL 2018 team signs off and we hope exciting times lie ahead for the 2019 committee to take the initiative to new heights. The complete report of INSL 2018 can be found HERE and the budget can be found HERE.
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A big shout out to the team of volunteers who made it all possible. Until next time…keep inspiring, keep motivating. Because Sri Lanka is worth it!