Young Entrepreneurs & Innovators are the lead of building Digital Bangladesh : Palak

In honor of the birth centenary of the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the iDEA Project of Bangladesh Computer Council (BCC) under the ICT Division of Bangladesh introduced the BANGABANDHU INNOVATION GRANT – BIG 2021. The prime goal of this initiative is to create a startup ecosystem and inspire youth by nourishing their entrepreneurial mindset. To Promote BIG -2021 as an international flagship program, The iDEA project has taken numerous initiatives such as University activation programs, TV Reality shows, and international roadshow campaigns.

The Hon’ble State Minister of ICT Division Mr. Zunaid Ahmed Palak MP enlightened the media about the present state and the future action plans of BIG 2021. The Senior Secretary of ICT Division Mr. N M Zeaul Alam PAA, the Additional Secretary & the Executive Director of Bangladesh Computer Council Mr. Parthapratim Deb and The Project Director & Joint Secretary of iDEA Project Md. Abdur Rakib honored the press conference with their presence. The sponsors of the initiative – Founder and CEO of Mr. Mohammad Rassel along with the Deputy Managing Director of Walton Digi-tech industries Ltd. Engineer Md. Liakat Ali, And Tina Zabin, Managing Director of Startup Bangladesh Limited shared their valuable thoughts on BIG 2021 at the press conference.

The chief guest of the online press conference, The Hon’ble State Minister of ICT Division Mr. Zunaid Ahmed Palak MP said that young entrepreneurs and innovators are pioneers in building a digital Bangladesh. The State Minister said the “Bangabandhu Innovation Grant” competition has made it possible to inspire and engage the young generation of the country to be entrepreneurs and innovators. On the other hand, Bangladesh has been established as a potential destination for entrepreneurs and innovators to the world. He said that more than 7,000 startups and innovators from 56 countries including Bangladesh have participated in the contest. Mr. Palak said that there are more than 6 lakh IT freelancers in the country and also making more than 500 million dollars. He said 100 crore taka will be invested among 50 startups from Startup Bangladesh Company Limited in Mujib Year. The 1st prize of the Bangabandhu Innovation Grant will be a grant of 1 lakh US dollars. They don’t have to worry about investing and financing innovative work. The state minister said 300 schools of the future are being set up in the country to turn the future generation into Bangabandhu’s golden man by imparting basic knowledge or basic ideas about Frontier Technology. He said 64 Sheikh Kamal IT Training and Incubation Centers are being set up in the country so that the youth can create self-employment in the area. Sheikh Hasina Institute Frontier Technology will be established to create technologists and innovators so that Bangladesh can lead the world in the field of technology by 2041. The state minister also added that the entrepreneurs are delivering services to people’s homes in the wake of the ongoing global epidemic. Startups like Evaly have set a precedent for success. Big groups are now interested in angel investments, Palak said, adding that six months of free co-working space is being provided for young entrepreneurs in every high-tech park in the country to make entrepreneurs bigger. Startup Bangladesh is building an entrepreneurial campus to develop young people across the country as entrepreneurs. Addressing the young entrepreneurs, the state minister said that instead of riding a car after studying, now it has to be said that an entrepreneur builds a car-horse.

As the special guest, The Senior Secretary of ICT Division Mr. N M Zeaul Alam PAA thanked all those present and wished the startups already selected for the next stage. The Executive Director of Bangladesh Computer Council (BCC) Mr. Parthapratim Deb said, “Bangabandhu is the leader of the world. One of our humble efforts to spread his work all over the world is “Bangabandhu Innovation Grant (BIG) 2021”.

The Project Director of iDEA Md. Abdur Rakib said in his welcome speech – The campaign for BIG- 2021 took place in 142 countries including Bangladesh and from these campaigns, more than 7000 startups registered their projects. Among them, 255 projects came from 56 different countries at the international level. These 255 projects were scrutinized in two different steps from which the top 10 projects have been identified. They will directly go to the grand finale. On the other hand, at the national level, the startups went through two different stages of scrutinization. In the first phase, 28 adjudicators were divided into 5 screening panels and selected 286 Bangladeshi startups. 35 judges from both Govt/non-govt. background and divided into 6 different panels on the second phase. These experienced panels adjudicated the online pith of those 286 startups and selected the top 65 teams from them. The project director also added that The top 65 teams from Bangladesh will get the opportunity to be a part of a 6-day long boot camp. The online boot camp has already been scheduled for 12th June 2021. After being groomed by the best professionals in the industry, the top 65 teams will take part in a 13-episode TV reality show which will start broadcasting on Ekattor TV from the first week of July 2021. In this round, the participants will be adjudicated by the biggest business icons of the country, the adjudicators will select a total of 26 teams from the 65 teams. These 26 teams along with the 10 teams from the international segment will be accompanied by the 10 best portfolio startups of iDEA project. Overall, 46 startups will contest against each other in the grand finale. Mr. Rakib also shared that Among these 46 startups, 36 startups from the national and international levels will get 10 lac BDT each as a grant under the iDEA project and the best startup among them will get 1 lac USD as a grant. Also, the country’s biggest investors and businessmen will be presented at the TV reality show as well as at the grand final and will invest in the startups if they find them interesting.

The Founder and CEO of evaly Mr. Mohammad Rassel said, “Inspired by Bangabandhu, we have got an independent country and we are proud to be on such an occasion like BIG.” We want to collaborate with other startups too. Evaly plans to invest about 2 crore to 5 crore BDT for the potential startups.”

Deputy Managing Director of Walton Digi-tech industries Ltd. Engineer Md. Liakat Ali said, “BIG 2021 is one of the events that will inspire young people and innovators. With young entrepreneurs and new innovators, Bangladesh will soon become one of the world’s leading IT countries, he said. The Walton family is proud to be associated with the BIG Event.”

Ms Tina F Jabeen, Managing Director and CEO of Startup Bangladesh Limited (SBL) said “Startup Bangladesh Limited” is honored and proud to sponsor Bangabandhu Innovation Grant (BIG) 2021 as a Venture Capital Fund. We look forward to making potential equity investments of up to 1 crore each in multiple startups contingent upon Due Diligence approval from the Company. These startups will join “Shotoborshe Shoto Asha” vintage” – said the MD & CEO of SBL during the press conference.

The prize-giving ceremony of the Bangabandhu Innovation Grant will take place in September 2021 by maintaining hygiene protocols and social distance. The Honorable ICT Affairs Adviser to the Honorable Prime
Minister Mr. Sajeeb Wazed is expected to be presented at the event.

BIG-2021 initiative was associated with partners such as – ICT Division of the people’s republic of Bangladesh, Department of ICT, Bangladesh Computer Council (BCC), Bangladesh High-Tech Park Authority (BHTPA), Office of the Controller of Certifying Authorities (CCA), and A2i along with BASIS, BACCO, BCS, e-CAB, ISPAB, and BIJF. Evaly, Walton and Startup Bangladesh Limited sponsored this event.

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