State Minister for ICT Division Zunaid Ahmed Palak said Digital Bangladesh is not a dream anymore but an inspiring reality.
"The Honourable Prime Minister of Bangladesh Sheikh Hasina shared a vision with us – the vision of building Digital Bangladesh by 2021. Today, after an era of recurring development, the whole nation has proven that Digital Bangladesh is not a dream anymore but a very inspiring reality," said Palak at the virtual demo day ceremony titled "Bangladesh Frontier Startups Business Preparation Support" on Tuesday.
The Korea Productivity Center (KPC) in South Korea organised the programme with the five winners of ideaTHON contest, which was one of the initiatives of the iDEA project of Bangladesh Computer Council (BCC) under the ICT Division. Bangladesh and South Korea jointly organised the contest on the occasion of the birth centenary of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, said a press release fromteh ICT Division on Tuesday.
The startups gave their presentation before the juries of the programme and finally, the ANTT Robotics Limited was declared the first-place winner among the top five startups.
Palak, who joined the programme virtually as the chief guest, said, "Even when nations are facing economic recession due to the lockdown, Bangladesh can harness the opportunity of technologies in almost every aspect of our life. As a result, not only can our economy withstand challenges, but also we are overcoming the obstacle of mass vaccination with a single digital platform."
The state minister said, "To empower the academia, we have already established more than 8,000 Sheikh Russel Digital Computer Labs in schools and colleges while more than 5,000 are being established and more than 15,000 are in the pipeline."
"To decentralise the technology and creativity channels, we are establishing 300 Schools of Future where students from the schools and colleges will be facilitated to develop their coding, programming, critical thinking, design thinking and other skills required to prepare them for uncertainty of the future tech industry," he continued.
"We have provided more than 33 specialised 4IR (ourth Industrial Revolution) technology-based labs in 33 public and private universities across the country. We are also building Sheikh Kamal IT Training and Incubation Center in all 64 districts to create employment for nongraduate youths. Sheikh Kamal IT business incubator established in the universities are targeted to turn University report and thesis or research papers in real life products services so that we can bring new and original innovations into the market and create a new business venture within the industry out of the academia," said Palak.
He further said South Korea has been a good friend of Bangladesh since 1973 and has been a close development partner. He also thanked the KPC and Bangladesh Frontier Startup Business Preparations Support Project for organising the programme in South Korea, which adds another milestone in the friendship between the two Nations.
Ambassador of the Embassy of the Republic of Korea in Bangladesh Lee Jang-keun said Bangladeshi startups that joined in this programme, successfully fulfilled the expectation of the programme and the initial goals. He also said Bangladesh's per capita GDP has tripled since 2009 and the country is doing great. Bangladesh has been managing the pandemic successfully and it is really impressive. Finally, the ambassador congratulated ideaTHON winners who have completed their six months long training in South Korea.
Lee Jang-keun and NM Zeaul Alam, senior secretary of ICT Division, graced the occasion as the special guest online.
Chairman of KPC Ahn Wan-gi gave a welcome speech at the ceremony. Executive Director (Additional Secretary) of BCC Parthapratim Deb and Project Director (Joint Secretary) of the iDEA Project Md Abdur Rakib was also present at the online programme.
The five winning teams of the ideaTHON were selected through a contest among 3,147 startup applicants in December 2020 during the Mujib Year.
Krishian, Char Chokka Limited, ANTT Robotics Limited, Rokkhi Limited and Chobir Baksho – these five Bangladeshi Startups received awards and honors as the winners at the closing ceremony of the ideaTHON competition held on 24 December, 2020.
Finally, on 8 March, 2021, 10 young entrepreneurs from these winning teams left for South Korea for six months of special training.
In the last six months, these young innovators from Bangladesh have been working with Korean experts, inventors and successful startups with the idea of developing their business and commercialisation opportunities.
The KPC and the Korea Invention Promotion Association (KIPA) assist to train and improve the startups. In addition to communicating with international entrepreneurs and private investors, they were assisted in obtaining international patents, designs, copyrights and trademark rights.
The organisers believe that through this training, these emerging startups of the country will be able to brighten the name of the country by establishing their business in the future as well as bring in a lot of foreign exchange investment.
Meanwhile, ANTT Robotics Limited, with their "Artificial Intelligence Based Learning Management System" signed agreement with an angel investor. This angel investment is worth more than 200 pieces of "Edublock" of Robotic Kits and the cost of a quarter-year task of the organisation.