SLASSCOM Boosts Start-ups: OIW Accelerate 2020 Programme
The Sri Lanka Association for Software Services Companies (SLASSCOM), known as the national chamber for the IT/BPM industry in Sri Lanka hosted the Oslo Innovation Week Accelerate 2020 (OIW Accelerate 2020) under the patronage of the Royal Norwegian Embassy in Sri Lanka. The competition promoted Sri Lankan tech start-Ups with cash grants of Rs. 500,000 and provided access to international exposure at the Oslo Innovation Week 2020 (OIW 2020).
The competition aimed to encourage and identify start-ups with innovative products and services that could help fight COVID-19 and address resultant social issues that have arisen. The initiative also aimed to create awareness about UN17 Sustainable Development Goals and support tech start-ups to align themselves with these goals in a forward-facing manner.
Speaking about the initiative, SLASSCOM Director Anura De Alwis said, “Through OIW Accelerate 2020 we want to inspire Sri Lankan start-ups to solve the pressing issues of the day through innovation and the use of digital technology. We also want to encourage entrepreneurship in Sri Lanka and knowledge sharing on a global level because it is only through collaboration that humanity can emerge victorious against COVID-19. The IT/BPM sector in Sri Lanka is brimming with talent and capability but many are held back due to a lack of opportunity and encouragement.”
Speaking about the methodology of the initiative, De Alwis also said that “OIW Accelerate 2020 worked to identify projects with the best potential and provide support, financially and morally, to help these ideas change the world. We take this opportunity to express our gratitude to the Royal Norwegian Embassy of Sri Lanka for sponsoring this project and for all the support they have rendered to us. ”
The OIW Accelerate 2020 competition was open to all ICT start-ups who registered their businesses in Sri Lanka within the last five years and to those who have already been listed as start-ups on the “StartupSL” website. Each entrant needed to have a product or service that had already been developed to a basic prototype stage. This product or service must also directly involve fighting COVID-19 or addressing social issues arising around it, while preferably aligning itself with at least one of the UN17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and focusing on one of five areas of expertise, including Ocean, Healthcare, Energy, FemTech or Smart Cities.
All entries were reviewed by an expert panel of local and international specialist judges from diverse fields in business and IT. Six winners were then chosen, based on the merits of their proposed solutions. Each winner received a cash grant and assistance, guidance, and mentorship to successfully pitch their product/service at OIW 2020. Assistance to participate in OIW 2020 was also provided.
Given the present global climate, Oslo Innovation Week 2020 was a virtual event, increasing accessibility and visibility. Entries closed on 12th August and winners were announced after 20th August 2020.