Prime minister Sheikh Hasina on Saturday said that the country’s young generation would be the key-force in building Smart Bangladesh.
“Our young generation would be the most skilled manpower in each field in building the Smart Bangladesh,” she said while inaugurating the first ever two-day Bangladesh Startup Summit-2023 in city’s Hotel InterContinental as the chief guest.
Mentioning that Bangladesh will be a smart country by 2041, the premier said the young generation is meritorious and they have the ability to implement their new innovations.
Referring to her government’s different initiatives to develop skilled Human Resources to face the challenges of Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR), she said they are setting up vocational and technical educational institutions in each upazila and arranging training facilities for future.
“To meet the challenges of 4IR, skilled human resources have to be created in advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence, internet of things, block chain, robotics, big data, medical scribes, cyber security,” she noted.
Sheikh Hasina said that her government’s goal is to help create five unicorns (startup company with at least US$ 1 billion is called unicorn) by 2025 and 50 unicorn startups by 2041 where each unicorn startup will create employment opportunities for millions of people.
“I urge domestic and foreign investors to invest more in startups,” she said, adding, “We’ve formulated necessary policies to protect your investment.”
State minister for Information and Communication Technology Zunaid Ahmed Palak made a keynote presentation in the event.
ICT Division Secretary Shamsul Arefin and Managing Director of Startup Bangladesh Sami Ahmed also spoke.
At the function, the prime minister also inaugurated “Smart Bangladesh accelerator” alongside “India-Bangladesh Startup Bridge” networking platform and “Smart Bangladesh Startup Fund” at the function.
Three audio-visual documentaries on Bangladesh Startup Summit, Bangabandhu Innovation Grant and Smart Bangladesh were screened at the ceremony.
Besides, eight startups were given startup award in eight different categories for their outstanding performance and they were Shopup, Pathao, bkash, 10 minute school, UNDP Youthco lab, Nagad, SBK Tech Venture and funded next.
Nagad managing director Tanvir A Mishuk and SBK Tech Venture managing director Sonia Bashir Kabir expressed their feelings on behalf of the award recipients.
In addition, grant was also given from the Bangabandhu Innovation grant among two entrepreneurs.
The prime minister said that her government has transformed the country into Digital Bangladesh enduring criticism, insulting remarks and ridiculous comment from different quarters.
“Yes, we’ve transformed the country into digital Bangladesh. But, we had to face severe criticism, insult and ridiculous comments initially. Even, whenever there was any technical problem or fault, the quarter ridiculed us, saying ‘it was the result of Digital Bangladesh,” she added.
Sheikh Hasina said that Awami League included the “Digital Bangladesh” scheme when it declared their election manifesto in 2008.
“At that time, we had to face many criticism. Now, I can say it proudly that we’ve transformed the country into digital one,” the prime minister said.
The premier said that the government has emphasised on creating skilled human resources in advanced technology to build a cost-effective, sustainable, intelligent and knowledge-based smart and prosperous Bangladesh by 2041.
With the help of the government’s efforts, she said, Startup Bangladesh Limited has completed 30 investments so far while 100 startup investments are on way under the “Shotoborshe Shoto Asha” campaign.
In this connection, she also mentioned that more than 1500,000 direct and indirect employment has been created through this startup ecosystem.
She added that 9200,000 people have received services and training through Startup Bangladesh Limited till December 2022, of which 55 per cent are women.
The prime minister said that her government has formulated the National Startup Policy and the Smart Bangladesh Startup Fund through which, she hoped the venture capital eco-system will be developed in the country.
She stated that US$ 924 million has been invested in the startup ecosystem so far.
Sheikh Hasina said the initiatives taken by the government regarding startups since 2009 have been progressed a long way, while the “Idea Project” was introduced in 2016 to provide grant among the startups.
From this project, her government has so far given Tk 400 million to 385 start-ups to encourage start-up entities, she said.
Besides, a grant of Tk 450 million has been given for 263 innovations from A2I Innovation Fund, she added.
Referring to the formulation of “e-government master plan”, the Prime Minister said currently there are more than 18 crore mobile SIM and more than 13 crore internet users in the country as 4G and 5G internet is available at some points in the country.
“E-commerce has grown tremendously. 20 lakh people have got employment based on information technology. Freelancers are earning more than US$ 500 million through outsourcing,” she added.
The two-day Bangladesh Startup Summit-2023 aimed at bringing together startups, enterprises, venture capitalists, angel investors, regulators, think tanks, and experts from various countries.
Startup Bangladesh Limited, the flagship venture capital company of the Information and Communication Technology Division of the Government of Bangladesh is hosting the two-day event.