The government has a plan to establish five more billion dollar companies by 2025 for creating employment for three million young women in the startup sector.“To implement this goal, we are going to finalize the startup policy,” State Minister for ICT Division Zunaid Ahmed Palak remarked while presiding over the grand finale of the “Bangabandhu Innovation Grant (BIG) 2023" held at the Osmani Memorial Auditorium in the capital on Saturday.
Salman Fazlur Rahman, Private Industry and Investment Adviser to the Prime Minister was present as the chief guest at the programme.
Palak said that Digital Bangladesh is the result of everyone's collective efforts. He said, we have funded nearly 400 startups from iDEA projects in 10 years from the beginning of 2015. About 30 percent of these startups are still alive and struggling,
he said, adding that around 10 percent of these startups have advanced to the pre-seed and growth stages.
“We are brave as a nation. Bangabandhu made the impossible possible. Inspired by that, we launched the Bangabandhu Innovation Grant. We have 3 goals. They are innovation ecosystems, building entrepreneurial supply chains, and developing startup cultures. As a result, the government will give all policy support to develop the startup sector,” he mentioned.
Salman F Rahman said that for any country to be successful, we need to know its history. He said many thought that it was not possible to transform Bangladesh into a digital Bangladesh. But we made it possible, he mentioned.
He also said that currently, we are working on how to reach from Digital Bangladesh to Smart Bangladesh. The government's job is to create a favorable environment and give opportunities to the private sector, he added.
He said, “we can if we get the right environment. ID cards have been arranged for freelancers, through which they can avail themselves of various opportunities, including bank loan facilities.”
The project director (joint secretary) of the iDEA project, Md. Altaf Hossain that the Bangladesh government is moving forward by adopting various work processes for the purpose of Vision 2041.
He also said that IDEA is working regularly to find innovative startups and this activity will continue in the future.
Secretary of the ICT Division, MdShamsulArefin was present as a special guest at the programme.
Among others, the Executive Director (Grade-1) of BCC, Ranajit Kumar, and the Managing Director of Startup Bangladesh Limited, Sami Ahmed were also present at the event.
The project director (joint secretary) of the iDEA project, Md. Altaf Hossain gave a welcome speech at the programme.
"Bangabandhu Innovation Grant (BIG)" was organized for the 3rd time by the Innovation Design and Entrepreneurship Academy (iDEA) Project of Bangladesh Computer Council (BCC) under the ICT Division to inspire young entrepreneurs, i.e. startups.
One of the purposes of this organization is to develop the startup ecosystem in the country by encouraging the innovative ideas of young entrepreneurs, i.e. startups.
A total of 6846 startups and innovators applied to participate in this contest at the initial stage after the nationwide campaign of BIG 2023, organized with the slogan "Dare to Stand Big".
Finally, "FabrikLagabe Ltd." and "Markopolo.ai" were joint winners as the Best Startups of the BIG 2023. It should be noted that as One Big Winner 2023, a grant of Tk 1 crore was given to each of the two joint winners. In addition, each of the top 50 startups will receive a grant of Tk 10 lakh for a total of Tk 5 crore. In other words, the organizer provides a total grant of Tk 7 crore to the 52 best startups.
Meanwhile, in this year's BIG 2023, 6 screening teams were initially formed and 224 startups were selected for the online pitching round after screening from among the registered startups.
Finally, after the online pitching round in 5 panels, a total of 103 startups participated in the BIG 3-day boot camp held at Sheikh Hasina Software Technology Park in Jashore on June 9-11, 2023.
Later, the 52 best startups were found at the end of the judging round of 5 panels. Finally, the joint winners “One Big Winner 2023” along with other winning startups were presented with crests. Eng. Mohammad Najmul Islam (Founder) and Razia Sultana (Co-founder) on behalf of FabrikLagabe Ltd and TasfiaTasbin (Co-founder) &Rubaiyat Farhan (Co-founder) on behalf of Markopolo.ai received the crest and certificate as the joint winners of BIG 2023. The venue was colorfully decorated to make the BIG 2023 grand finale attractive, and there were different other arrangements too.
BIG 2023 was associated with the Government's ICT Division, BCC, Startup Bangladesh Limited, Department of ICT, Bangladesh Hi-Tech Park Authority, a2i, Enhancing Digital Government and Economy (EDGE) project, and Digital Entrepreneurship and Innovation Eco-System Development Project, and also helped to make the "BIG 2023" event a success.
The top 50 startups apart from FabrikLagabe Ltd. and Markopolo.ai (Marketeer AI Ltd.) are: AgriSmart, Ant Suite, Aqualink Bangladesh Limited, Ayykori Digital Limited, Bangla Iskool BD Limited, Bazar365 Limited, Cardicare, Chaad Bazar, CHECKBOX, Deshifarmer Limited, DGarma, DocTime Limited, Drip Irrigation BD Ltd., E-Irrigation, E-Ostaad, Easy Go, EduAssist: The Future of Inclusive Education, engage, ePolli, FARMSHOUSE BD, G-Widgets Smart Energy Management System (SEMS), Gramshop, Hishabee Technologies Limited, Inkam, Interactive Cares, JRC Board, KrishiShwapno, LILAC, Maverick Innovation, MIMBA, MommyKidz Ltd., More Tech BD, NiramoyHealthtech, Robotry Bangladesh, RyoGas, SASTHYA SEBA, Shalbrikkho Ltd., Shomvob, SHOTHIK AI, Sokrio Technologies Ltd., SOLshare [SOLmobility], StufBase Limited, TechRev 4.0: Smart Factory (Teknovus Limited), ToyLend, TOYO, VR Bangla, Wander Woman, WASTE Bangladesh, YOUR Campus, and Zaynax Health Limited.