The Information and Communication Technology Agency (ICTA) is the apex ICT institution of the Government mandated to drive digital transformation with a vision to make Sri Lanka a digitally inclusive nation. In line with the Digital Economy Strategy, ICTA develops, supports, and helps nurture the startup ecosystem of Sri Lanka.
ICTA recently announced the launch of SPARX Lab with an opening ceremony held recently with the participation of Mr. Jayantha De Silva, Secretary to the Ministry of Technology, Mr. Oshada Senanayake, Chairman, ICTA/ Director General, TRCSL, Eng. Mahinda B. Herath, Chief Executive Officer, ICTA, Mr. Anura De Alwis, Chief Digital Economy Officer ICTA, and representatives from the startup ecosystem including Mr. Jeevan Gnanam, Founder, Hatch Works graced the occasion.
SPARX Lab is a physical space dedicated to nurturing early-stage startups in Sri Lanka. In line with ICTA mandate to develop, support, and help nurture the startups, this dedicated workspace will foster budding entrepreneurs and provide orientation, consultation, guidance, and mentoring for entrepreneurs planning to establish their own startup. In addition, these entrepreneurs will get the chance to develop networks with like-minded people, academia, government, and all other entities within which the ICTA Startup Ecosystem Development unit closely works.
Since 2010, ICTA has supported developing startup ecosystems by creating awareness, instilling entrepreneurship culture, incubation, market access, early-stage seed funding, consulting, and mentoring. In addition, initiatives such as ‘10,000 Ideas’, STEP Pre-Incubator, StartupSL, and Regional Startup Hubs will further support the development and growth of the startup ecosystem in Sri Lanka.
Commenting on this initiative, Mr. Jayantha De Silva, Secretary of the Ministry of Technology, stated, “Within the prevailing cultural and economic setup in Sri Lanka, initiating startups is a huge challenge. Therefore, the Ministry of Technology, along with ICTA facilitate and nurtures these startups to create a technology-driven environment conducive for the growth of startups’.
Chairman of ICTA Sri Lanka and DG TRCSL, Mr. Oshada Senanayake addressing the opening ceremony, stated, “I think it’s indeed a significant moment for ICTA. The key pivotal point for us is the development of the next generation of technopreneurs and startup enablers. Therefore, ICTA has an important role to play in enabling and empowering the Sri Lankan startup ecosystem.”
Primarily, SPARX Lab will act as a hub for budding entrepreneurs and early-stage startups that can to come together and be groomed with the support of ICTA, the startup ecosystem, and the government. In addition, SPARX Lab will be the central hub for all regional startup hubs and University incubator networks formed due to the roll-out of the Entrepreneurial University framework. Finally, it allows key ambassadors to get together and work on one national agenda along with ICTA.
“ICTA has been incubating startups for a long time, and it comprises a mature, though young, team to support and nurture startups. The facilities that have been developed by ICTA here will be a massive addition to the startup ecosystem,” said Eng. Mahinda B. Herath, CEO of ICTA Sri Lanka.
SPARX Lab will be open for any team or individual whose idea qualifies or has already qualified as one of the ‘10,000 Ideas’ Tech-innovation Program initiated by ICTA, to empower the next generation of tech innovators. In addition, the registrants in the StartupSL platform who do not own a business registration or who have not completed one year since registering their business would also be eligible. StartupSL is the national online platform for startups in Sri Lanka, which allows its registrants to connect with the startup ecosystem enablers and vice-versa. Cohorts of ‘STEP’, the ICTA pre-incubator program will also have access to the SPARX Lab.
“ICTA has remained particularly close to the startup ecosystem and have played an important role in changing the lives of many entreprenuers in Sri Lanka” stated Mr. Jeevan Gnanam, Founder of Hatch Works, who was recently awarded ‘The Best Co-working Space’ in the world at the Global Startup Awards 2021.
The occupants at SPARX Lab will receive numerous supports from the entire startup ecosystem. SPARX Lab can be accessed from 7.00 am to 7.00 pm on weekdays, with multiple facilities including video conferencing, free high-speed Wi-Fi powered by Dialog and Mobitel. Based on the requirements, they will also receive access to a pod to house their startups with two team members for two consecutive weeks or daily. One-on-one meetings could be facilitated, along with a dedicated space for startups seeking a business place for recruitment. For more details contact us via firstname.lastname@example.org.