SPARX Lab to act as springboard for entrepreneurs
By Eunice Ruth
The Information and Communication Technology Agency (ICTA) of Sri Lanka recently launched SPARX Lab for start-up entrepreneurs in Sri Lanka, and this lab is a physical space dedicated to nurturing early-stage start-ups in Sri Lanka.
This workspace will provide the required support to develop and nature the start-ups, and also it will provide orientation, consultation, guidance, and mentoring for entrepreneurs who are planning to set up their own start-ups. In addition, these entrepreneurs will get the chance to develop networks with many people including the Government and all other entities in which the ICTA Startup Ecosystem Development unit closely works. Primarily, the SPARX Lab will act as a hub for budding entrepreneurs and early-stage start-ups that can come together and be groomed with the support of ICTA, the start-up ecosystem, and the Government. Also, the lab will be the central hub for all regional start-up hubs and University incubator networks formed due to the roll-out of the Entrepreneurial University framework. At last, it will allow all key ambassadors to get together and work on one national agenda along with ICTA.
Meanwhile, the Founder of Hatch Works, Jeevan Gnanam said the SPARX Lab will be open and available for any team or individual whose idea qualifies or has already qualified as one of the ‘10,000 Ideas’ tech-innovation programme. The individuals who do not own a business registration or who have not completed one year since registering their business would also be eligible to get themselves registered with the Startup-SL platform. He further said this is the national online platform for start-ups in Sri Lanka, which allows its registrants to connect with the start-up ecosystem enablers and vice-versa. The partners of ‘STEP,’ the ICTA pre-incubator programme, will also have the access to the SPARX Lab. ICTA has remained particularly close to the start-up ecosystem and has played an important role in changing the lives of many entrepreneurs in Sri Lanka, he added. “The SPARX Lab can be accessed from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. on weekdays, with multiple facilities including video conferencing, free high-speed Wi-Fi powered by Dialog, and SLT Mobitel. Based on the requirements, they will also receive access to a pod to house their start-ups with two team members for two consecutive weeks or daily. One-on-one meetings could be facilitated, along with a dedicated space for start-ups seeking a business place for recruitment. Meanwhile, for more details, individuals can contact the ICTA via [email protected],” he said.
Since 2010, ICTA has supported developing start-up ecosystems by creating awareness, instilling entrepreneurship culture, incubation, market access, and early-stage seed funding, consulting, and mentoring. In addition, initiatives such as ‘10,000 Ideas,’ STEP Pre-Incubator, Startup-SL, and Regional Startup Hubs will further support the development and growth of the start-up ecosystem in Sri Lanka. Chief Executive Officer of ICTA, Eng. Mahinda B. Herath said the ICTA has been incubating start-ups for a long time, and it comprises a mature and young team to support and nurture start-ups. The facilities that have been developed by ICTA here will be a massive addition to the start-up ecosystem.
Secretary of the Ministry of Technology, Jayantha De Silva, said within the prevailing cultural and economic setup in Sri Lanka, initiating start-ups is a huge challenge. Therefore, the Ministry of Technology, along with ICTA facilitates and nurtures these start-ups to create a technology-driven environment conducive for the growth of start-ups.
“The key pivotal point for us is the development of the next generation of techno-entrepreneurs and start-up enablers. The ICTA has an important role to play in enabling and empowering the Sri Lankan start-up ecosystem,” said Director-General of Telecommunications Regulatory Commission of Sri Lanka (TRCSL), Oshada Senanayake.