Since its launch in 2018, the Sri Lanka National Exports Strategy (NES) has been on its feet to implement all its important actions. Leading the NES out of its 6 sectors is IT-BPM. As such, it has spearheaded over 20 NES priority actions over a 12-month period. Among its notable achievements are the Champion Builder Program and the country branding exercise.
The NES has set a few goals for the IT-BPM sector. That goal is to generate a sector revenue of $5 billion, increase sector labour force participation by 200,000 and also to have a total of 1,000 tech startups by the year 2022. Since the launch of the NES in June 2018, a number of industry development initiatives have kicked off.
The Ministry of Development Strategies and International Trade (MoDSIT) and the Information and Communication Technology Agency (ICTA) are the latest to enter this pool of collaborators. Both parties recently signed an MoU where the ICTA was identified as the lead stakeholder to implement and manage three IT-BPM priority activities. The programs will be funded through the treasury backed NES budget of LKR 250 Million for the fiscal year of 2019 over a two-year period, with a cost of LKR 42 Million.
So what exactly are these three programs?
Spiralation is a program that consists of seed funding and a startup accelerator. It was launched by the ICTA in 2011. Since then, it has incubated over 54 startups which has resulted in over 400 job opportunities. The program focuses on supporting new technology ventures and partners with entrepreneurs with a vision to launch a technology startup. The program consists of a seed funding and a startup accelerator.
Position Sri Lanka Globally is essentially a platform where ICTA partners with global organizations and invite them to Sri Lanka for exclusive national technology events. The platform would advocate the Sri Lankan IT-BMP industry. Position Sri Lanka Globally would also strategically market the sector in selected countries as well. The goal here is to generate better international awareness and traction.
Lastly, we have Sri Lanka Go Digital. This is a program to help regional IT companies scale up. As such, the program will take 10-15 regional companies and provide them with business development services. The goal here is not only to drive export oriented companies, but also to be a contributor to Sri Lanka’s regional development through digitization.
What role would the ICTA play in this?
Taking the lead on this initiative would be, ICTA which would steer the implementation of these 3 activities. They would also collaborate with other NES partner stakeholders such as the Export Development Board, Board of Investment, Ministry of Finance, SLASSCOM, FITIS, along with startups and venture investors.
While preparing for the 2020 National Budget cycle, the MoDSIT, EDB, and NES sector Advisory Committees are approaching implementing partners to bring together new project proposals. These would be submitted to the Treasury and the National Planning Department in September of 2019.
The national agenda, driven by its Advisory Committees – comprising public and private stakeholders – will continue to proactively engage with the implementing partners to help facilitate more collaborative implementation arrangements. Hopefully, these three programs will help local IT companies and startups not only scale up, but also get international exposure and opportunities to go regional.