IEEE Innovation Nation (IEEE IN) is an initiative supported by IEEE Entrepreneurship to promote entrepreneurship in low-GDP countries. Having its roots in Bosnia & Herzegovina, IEEE IN thrives to establish a network of startups, investors, industry, and academia to support the growth and enhance the visibility of startups in Low-GDP countries. Currently, the event is taking place in Bosnia & Herzegovina and Sri Lanka with plans to expand to other parts of the world in the coming years.
IEEE Innovation Nation Sri Lanka (INSL) launched in 2018 as a volunteer-lead initiative by the IEEE Sri Lanka Section to understand the capacity and the need for startup enabler programs for youth entrepreneurs in Sri Lanka. The program provides training, mentoring and financial support to budding entrepreneurs and inspires innovation and entrepreneurship among the Sri Lankan youth.
The Journey of 2019: The “Pre-accelerator”
IEEE Innovation Nation Sri Lanka positioned itself as a pre-accelerator, intending to build a scalable, and sustainable program. IEEE INSL became bigger than just a competition, it was a training platform for early-stage startups to put their business through a rigorous evaluation process and get themselves ready for accelerators and investments.
The year started with ‘The Hustle Story’, a series of lightning talks focused on the success stories of homegrown startups. The Hustle stories inspired aspiring entrepreneurs by showing examples of ordinary people achieving extraordinary feats. The Hustle Story featured Ragularuban Nanthagopal (Co-Founder of Alakazam.ai), Jehan Wijesinghe (CEO and Co-Founder of Igniterspace), Madhawa Dias (CEO and Co-Founder of AdrenalineLK ), Thisara Jayasinghe (CEO and Co-Founder of BUOST Asia), Nisal Periyapperuma (CEO and Co-Founder Paladin Analytics) and Aabith Sabeer (Young Chartered Accountant, Associate Member of CPA Australia)
Following the completion of Hustle Story, the registration process for the pre-accelerator commenced in July. 60 startups sent across proposals to enroll in the pre-accelerator out of which 11 startups were handpicked by judges based on the team potential and business viability.
Over three months, the 11 startups were prepared for accelerators and seed investments through hands-on mentorship and workshops from local entrepreneurs. The workshops covered various topics related to the mechanics of running a startup and the startups underwent one-on-one mentoring sessions from professionals and entrepreneurs related to their respective domains. This helped startups to refine their ideas and for some, to re-strategize towards different avenues. Before the final pitch competition, a mock pitch session was held to fine-tune their presentation as well as to get feedback on their strategy going forward.
Meet the Startups
MillionDreams is an event planning platform connecting vendors and customers
SmartCOP is a smart solution for automating the process of Traffic Police.
Online platform connecting the dots between the services providers and seekers in the construction industry.
A medi-tech product based on EEG to detect Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)
A platform connecting Tour Guides with Tourist
A medi-tech product to monitor the potassium level in the blood (plasma) non-invasively focused on dialysis procedures.
Cookoo eats 2.0
An online affordable and healthy food delivery platform for northern Sri Lanka
An online platform for booking sports arenas and managing memberships
IoT & automation, smart socket which can turn off when the phone is charged.
A smart platform to identify the behavior of pets based on their actions and vitals for pet owners.
A solution to add smart temperature control based on an adaptive mechanism to existing air conditioners and new air conditions as well as air conditioner control vents.
The Grand Finale
After the completion of the training period, the Grand Finale of the program was held on 21st December at Paradise beach hotel Negombo. The finale consisted of two pitching sessions, both of which served as stepping stones to crown the best startups of the program. Each team was given 10 minutes to pitch their business at the Qualifier pitching round and the 5 best teams were selected for the Final pitching round, which then selected the best three startups as the winners of the competition.
Winners and Awards
The INSL awards ceremony was held together with the IEEE Sri Lanka Section Student/Young Professionals/Women in Engineering Congress, “IEEE Sri Lanka Section Awards Ceremony” held at the Wayamba University Of Sri Lanka on the same evening. ApneaCare was crowned as best startups followed by KID KIT and Cookoo eats 2.0 as 1st runner up and the 2nd runner respectively.
The winning startups were awarded cash prizes with a lucrative startup bundle to continue their journey. All the selected 11 startups were awarded free IEEE and IEEE Entrepreneurship memberships!
Mentors, Facilitators, and Partners
This event would not have been successful if it had not been for all the wonderful sponsors and partners throughout the process sincerely appreciating their contributions and their commitment to the common cause, together with INSL.
Workshop Facilitators: Muditha Batagoda, Mayun Kaluthanthri, Shavin Peris, Aloka Gunasekara, Dulitha Perera, Rosita Fernando, Irosha de Silva, Kalana Muthumune
Judges: Dr. Eddie Custovic, Fathhi Mohomad, Rohan Jayaweera, Keerthi Kodithuwakku, Mazin Hussain, Suwin Amarabandu, Nevindaree Premarathne, Lakshan De SIlva, Miller Alexander Rajendran
Partners: London Stock Exchange Group (LSEG), VeryBad Wizards Startup X Foundry, Hometree Coworking, PwC Sri Lanka
The Team Behind the Curtain
Behind the success of every IEEE event, they’re volunteers who dedicate their time and effort in actualizing the vision of the event. We appreciate the dedication and commitment given by the IEEE Innovation Nation Sri Lanka 2019 committee.
Team: Mithushan Jalangan, Maheshika Madubashani, Dilini Ekanayaka, Isuri Udithamala, Manodya Nabadawewa, Lakdinu Ekanayaka, Jana Janarthan, Thivagar Mahendran, Madhushika Hansani, Vidura Dhananjaya, Iroshan Rathnayake, Pemal Yasith, Pinsara Kuruppu, Thivvyan Karuneswaran, Dhammika Marasinghe, Chanaka Hettige, Tharushi Natasha.
With this, the INSL 2019 team signs off and hopefully exciting times lie ahead for the 2020 committee to take the initiative to new heights.
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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!