Tripartite agreement to fund entrepreneurship programmes for Sri Lankan university students and graduates
A noteworthy tripartite initiative to stimulate technology start-ups by Sri Lankan university students and recent graduates gets underway in January 2014 with corporate sponsorship and participatory inputs from Brandix.
Sri Lanka's single largest apparel exporter has confirmed it will collaborate with the Sri Lanka Association of Software and Service Companies (SLASSCOM) and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to offer 6-month incubation programmes twice a year to Sri Lanka's most innovative undergraduates and recent graduates under the MIT Global Startup Labs' (MIT-GSL) Sri Lanka programme.
This programme enables participants to start innovative businesses through three distinct phases. GSL instructors will conduct two workshops in Phase I, while Brandix, other business leaders, and seasoned entrepreneurs will conduct a series of seminars, training, and mentoring sessions in Phase II, and MIT-GSL instructors will conduct further training in Phase III. Each programme will culminate with participants pitching their ideas to seek funding and mentorship at a public demonstration day attended by investors and industry leaders.
A milestone agreement signed by Brandix Lanka Limited and SLASSCOM envisages that Brandix will provide funding for the initiative for five years, and that the programme will be offered to second-year or older undergraduates as well as recent graduates of Sri Lankan universities.
"The landscape of the entire apparel industry has been changed with the advent of new and disruptive innovations," Brandix Director Udena Wickremesooriya said. "From raw materials to processes, machinery and equipment, packaging and supply chain, new technology will transform the way products are made and sold. As a provider of inspired solutions for branded clothing, Brandix is in the thick of this evolution, and we are excited at the opportunities. Supporting a programme of this nature, therefore, gives us immense satisfaction."
SLASSCOM Chairman Madhu Ratnayake said: "MIT's Global Startup Labs programme has already helped thousands of students and universities globally through its unique initiatives to promote technology start-ups. MIT Global Startup Labs was pioneered in Sri Lanka by the University of Moratuwa, and with the collaboration and funding support of Brandix, SLASSCOM is confident that the programme can now scale new heights in Sri Lanka, paving the way for business and industry-specific innovation. Our vision is to get to 1,000 start-ups by 2022."
He said each MIT-GSL programme to be conducted under the agreement in Sri Lanka is expected to accommodate about 100 student participants at the outset. The programme is free of charge for chosen candidates.
Prof. Saman Amarasinghe of MIT's Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science who is also a member of the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory said: "During the three years MIT-GSL offered its mobile information technology innovation programme at the University of Moratuwa, it became apparent to us that there is top-notch technical talent in Sri Lanka and all the ingredients are there to create a breakout start-up that can take on the world. We are extremely excited to partner with Brandix and SLASSCOM and take this programme to the national level. We have high expectations for this programme. We plan to bring together the top technical and innovative talent and produce successful entrepreneurs. It would not be inconceivable to have the next Facebook or Google emerge from these teams."
A Group that employs approximately 47,000 people at 42 manufacturing plants in Sri Lanka, India and Bangladesh, Brandix has partnerships with the Universities of Colombo, Peradeniya, Moratuwa, Kelaniya, Sri Jayewardenepura and Wayamba and the Sri Lanka Institute of Information Technology (SLIIT). A preferred supplier to many global apparel labels, Brandix is credited with many firsts, among them, the first apparel manufacturer in the world to build a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum-rated Green factory certified by the US Green Building Council (USGBC); the first in Sri Lanka to build a LEED Gold certified office complex; and the builder of the first Supply Chain City in South Asia -- the 1000-acre Brandix India Apparel City (BIAC).