Accelerate 2020: SLASSCOM Recognised Winners of Oslo Innovation Week
While 2020 kept most of us indoors, SLASSCOM ensured that their first post-lockdown member meetup was an eventful one by also hosting the Oslo Innovation Week Accelerate 2020 award ceremony. This is testament to the enduring spirit of Sri Lankan innovation, keeping the island’s ingenious work in this area, top of mind with leading international players. The event was hosted by SLASSCOM’s Entrepreneurship and Innovation Forum and sponsored by PwC Sri Lanka. Further, the evening was graced by the Ambassador of the Kingdom of Norway in Sri Lanka Trine Jøranli Eskedal, key embassy staff, SLASSCOM members and key well-wishers.
SLASSCOM Chairman, Channa Manoharan said, “This gathering was a special one, not only since it was the first post-Covid event for the association but also because it was a celebratory platform, recognizing the winners of Oslo Innovation Week, Accelerate 2020”. Launched in partnership and under the patronage of the Royal Norwegian Embassy in Sri Lanka, Oslo Innovation Week – Accelerate 2020 was a competition, aimed to recognize and support Sri Lankan tech start-ups. The competition revolved around innovative products and services to help combat the drastic life and work changes that the pandemic has brought on and its resultant social issues. The competition additionally required applicants to focus their innovations on the UN17 Sustainable Development Goals in one of five areas: Ocean, Healthcare, Energy, Equality and Smart Cities.
“The aim of the competition was to inspire Sri Lankan start-ups to explore the opportunities of using digital technology to solve social issues – and more importantly, to support them with financial aid, mentorship and guidance to successfully commercialize their innovations,” explained SLASSCOM Director, Anura De Alwis.
The judging process for Oslo Innovation Week – Accelerate 2020 involved first selecting 50 shortlisted applicants by an expert panel of judges made up of local and foreign specialists in the business and IT domains. They included the teams Q-bus, Magicbits, Studybuddyzone, Fusion Lab, Ananke IoT Services and Ultraclass. The shortlisted entries were then sent through a second judging process, where 6 winners were selected.
From these winners, Team Ultraclass went on to be selected to represent Sri Lanka and showcase their innovations at the Oslo Innovation Week 2020: Top 100 pitches from around the world. The pitching sessions are scheduled to be held virtually this year, due to Covid-19 restrictions.
“Our dependency on digital infrastructure and online services has never been more than it is today,” mentioned H.E. Trine Jøranli Eskedal. “Over four billion people use digital technologies, but this means that half of the world still doesn’t, and we need to pay special attention to these people and support them,” she added. She congratulated the winners and thanked SLASSCOM for initiating this important competition to recognize local innovators and start-ups.
The evening also included the recognition of six innovators from Cutting Edge 2020, an innovation-centred exhibition hosted by the Informatics Institute of Technology (IIT). Gayalie Jayawardhane, Mohamed Irfan Ismath, Jittendran Jude Sajith Hector, Nisal Sudila, Safiyaah Thur Rahman and Stelan Briyan Simonsz were the 6 selected innovators. Their contributions have resulted in being selected to participate in the SLASSCOM Mentorship Programme to be guided in the lines of commercializing their innovations.
Initiatives of this nature and magnitude continue to help shape Sri Lanka’s startup ecosystem and pay tribute to the island’s ingenious and resilient spirit through changing world landscapes.