The world is just at the door steps of mostly anticipated fourth Industrial Revolution. The broaden application of Latest technologies is going to reshape almost every sector by the end of this youth led revolution. The world is hosting a record time high population of about 7.2 Billion where youth population is around 2.4 Billion. Most of the governments around the world is struggling to provide ready jobs to this huge population of youth specially the Asian countries as the population is maximum in this region.
The brainchild of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and her ICT Affairs Adviser Sajeeb Wazed, to utilize the usage of ICT (Information and Communication technology) as a tool for development and sustainability, country’s biggest Innovation Platform ‘Innovation Design & Entrepreneurship Academy(iDEA)’ project bearing the flagship of ‘Startup Bangladesh’ was introduced in 2016 under ICT Division. In 2018, this project joined hands with the country’s largest youth network ‘Young Bangla’ under intense supervision of Center for Research & Information (CRI). The target from the beginning was set to start building the national ecosystem of Bangladesh. Student to Startup program is just one of the initiatives taken to ensure the major components of the ecosystem.
One of the main aspects of Digital Bangladesh was to connect the academia with the corporates & industry professionals. As the government already planned to replicate iDEA project’s systems & opportunities in all the High-Tech parks that are being established throughout the country, this project is destined to be the main framework of the National Ecosystem. The first thing this ecosystem will require is a supply chain of entrepreneurs which’ll mark the collaboration of Academics with the framework where the industry will be included through building the innovation culture.
Young Bangla already has a network functioning in more than 100 Universities throughout the country. So, the basic target is to connect these 100 dots with the framework of national startup ecosystem and thus build an entrepreneurial supply chain to provide more innovation-based self-employment opportunities to the youth.
Usually in our country most of the student’s life consume about 16-20 years of study. After such a long period of academic learning students often falls short of practical learning and gets stuck in a 9 to 5 job with a decent 20 to 30 thousand salary per month. Then one day suddenly they realizes that they’re bored and has no excitement for doing new things any more. They questions themselves about their dreams, their passion as they already had a long time habit of learning more and more. Just in four years of undergraduate education, a general university student has to prepare & submit around 4-5 projects which could be their dream projects and might enable them to create & provide employment opportunities instead of looking for jobs.
With a motto “My Innovation, My Dream”, Student to Startup Initiative kicked off its first chapter through targeting 40 Universities throughout 8 divisions of the country. Connecting students through the Campus Ambassadors of Young Bangla, the first chapter was inaugurated on March 8, 2019 following up with the central coordination meeting. The whole Chapter consists two major parts:
- Campus Phase:Each venue will host a single day workshop on ‘How to Pitch your innovation’ and ‘Opportunities provided by iDEA Project’ following up with a basic pitching day where any individual/team from any background and any university can pitch their ideas to earn a place in the first ever ‘National Startup Camp’ of Bangladesh.
During the campus phase 65 universities were connected with these 40 universities as these 40 are functioned as iDEA workshop and pitching venues. By the end of the campus phase, so far, the total number of youths enrolled around 6000+ and ideas pitched around 2000+.
- National Phase:Mostly named as the first ever ‘National Startup Camp’ this phase will host the top 120 Student Startup Projects (considering the wild card entries) for two day training program on special topics of Entrepreneurship, Innovation & Startups following up with the Final Pitching part where top 30 teams will be selected to face the official ‘Selection Committee’ of iDEA project. Top 10 startups will receive Pre-seed fund wort 10 Lacs BDT each while other 20 teams will be directed to the mentoring part of the project and recycled for the funding process.
In a nutshell, the first chapter opened up the path of the entrepreneurial supply chain of the country and the academics has responded equally. The plan is set to host a couple of chapters of this Student to Startup initiative per year to ensure proper equity in providing opportunities to every batch of students. As we already have the framework working and have connected and the largest youth network of the country, a National Startup Ecosystem for Bangladesh is just a matter of time now. Lastly, the youth grabbed the first chapter enthusiastically and due to the easy online application process, youth engagement is thus gradually increasing which marks the respond of the youth flourishing towards the innovation culture.