Sri Lanka issues call to join South Asian innovation corridor

com-bat

  • First global Innovation Forum to be held in Colombo
  • ‘Let’s boost innovations by going regional’-Rishad
  • NEDA, COSTI & ADB’s Tokyo Institute behind new push
  • 30 global innovation & SME experts taking part
  • ADB’s Snr Economist Vendenberg among visiting experts!
  • Experts to map a new Lankan Innovation Accelerator
  • ‘A targeted approach needed for SME innovations’-ADBI’s Dr Yu
  • Cannot focus only on corporate innovations’-Rishad

In a major development in advancing its national innovation culture to global standards, Sri Lanka voiced its interest to actively join the South Asian regional innovation corridor at a top international innovation confab taking place in Colombo.

The pioneering call by the Minister of Industry and Commerce Rishad Bathiudeen was issued during the first ever international innovation forum to be held in Colombo, co-organised by NEDA, COSTI and more importantly, Tokyo based Asian Development Bank Institute.

“Rather than innovating alone as a country, I believe that we can enhance our innovation efforts by joining with the South Asian innovation corridor. India alone is home to research and development centers of more than 300 multinational corporations. Imagine the opportunities for our innovators if we can link with at least two of them! There are huge innovation partnership opportunities in the region” voiced Minister Bathiudeen addressing the first ever international session on SMEs and R&D to be held in Sri Lanka.

The event, co-organised by Minister Bathiudeen’s National Enterprise Development Authority (NEDA), Sri Lanka’s Coordinating Secretariat for Science Technology and Innovation (COSTI), and Tokyo based Asian Development Bank Institute (ADBI) packs more than 30 global experts on innovations and SMEs, converging in Colombo to form a blue print for ground-breaking Sri Lankan SME Innovation Accelerator. The proposed accelerator is expected to enable SMEs in R&D and demonstrate new marketable products based on new tech applications. The Colombo sessions are scheduled to conclude on 23 December. Among the experts in Colombo session is a renowned global Economist Dr. Paul Vendenberg (Senior Economist, ADB Institute) who reputed in capacity building and training.

“Innovation efforts in a country like Sri Lanka need to be well focused so that “innovation to market cycles” are faster and cost effective especially for the financing organisation. At present this is true for not only private sector research and development even public sector research and development agencies. It is here that public private partnership models become a practical solution. I am pleased that Sri Lanka Institute of Nano Technology (SLINTEC) is such a success story with top corporates becoming stakeholders in it. This is a PPP success story” said Minister Bathiudeen, and added: “Still as government agencies we cannot focus only on corporate innovations and relax. There is that one million strong SME sector of Sri Lanka that needs innovation support. 92 percent of our SMEs are micro scale enterprises mostly in rural trade sector. Urban SMEs usually have ready access to infrastructure and facilities while rural SMEs have to overcome an additional set of issues related to these. I believe now you can understand where Sri Lanka SME innovation priorities are to develop them further. Also rather than innovating alone as a country I believe that we can enhance our innovation efforts by joining with the South Asian innovation corridor. There is no doubt that our innovation efforts could be greatly enhanced by such win-win regional partnerships. For example India alone is home to research and development centers of more than 300 multinational corporations. Imagine the opportunities for our innovators if we can link with at least two of them! There are huge innovation partnership opportunities in the region and I propose that we also try to explore this aspect during this pioneering two day innovation session in Colombo.”

Deputy Dean of Tokyo’s Asian Development Bank Institute, Dr Bokhwan Yu addressing the event said that SMEs play a crucial role in many Asian countries. “SMEs play a critical role in many Asian countries. They are seen as a product accelerating economic growth. SME R&D requires access to finance, good human resources and a targeted approach to R&D. This informative session in Colombo is expected create new SME initiatives.”

Head-quartered in Tokyo, ADBI provides intellectual input for policy makers in its developing member countries by doing research with a focus on medium- to long-term development on given issues.