9 months ago

Country's first campus-based business incubator starts journey Wednesday

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The country's first university campus-based business incubator is set to begin its journey on Wednesday at Chittagong University of Engineering and Technology (CUET),

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is scheduled to inaugurate the institution named Sheikh Kamal IT Business Incubator in memory of Sheikh Kamal, the eldest son of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, on Wednesday, reports BSS.

To develop IT entrepreneurs and expand the knowledge-based economy, the business incubator will provide some 220 entrepreneurs, trainees, freelancers and potential startups with financial and logistical services, alongside mentorships.

According to BSS, the establishment of this business incubator is also a step towards building "Smart Bangladesh" within 2041.

"This incubator has a complete innovation eco-system for start-ups and businesses," said Director of the incubator Professor Dr M Moshiul Hoque while talking to the reporters on Tuesday.

Mentioning that the incubator will link up with different companies, he said, "We are working on how to convert university projects into real projects and products, and the Sheikh Kamal Incubator will act as the bridge between the businesses and entrepreneurs."

Industry insiders opined that the IT Business Incubator will play a leading role in implementing "Smart Bangladesh" by 2041 as it will be a centre of materialising new ideas being invented by the university students and graduates as well as an evolution hub of talent, intellect and knowledge of the next generation towards building the "Sonar Bangla" as dreamt by Bangabandhu.

The incubator aims to provide assistance to university graduates to be developed themselves as entrepreneurs,  establish effective links between universities and the IT industry, as well as create opportunities for research and innovation activities for the faculty and students of the university.

Moshiul Hoque, also the dean of the Faculty of Electrical and Computer Engineering of CUET, said if any industry thinks that any start-up idea, product or software is commercially profitable and useful for the country, then they will agree with the entrepreneurs.

"The agreement will be subject to certain rights and shares," he said, adding, "Then this small enterprise will take the form of an enterprise." 

Constructed on 4.7 acres on the CUET campus involving Tk 1.13 billion, this will be the new cap to transform the country towards "Smart Bangladesh" from the Digital Bangladesh campaign, first unveiled in the election manifesto of the present government in 2008.

In the incubator, there is a high-speed internet connection through BTCL.  This unique project, implemented from July 2017 to June 2022, includes an oval incubation building up to 10 storeys with 50,000 square feet (sft) space,  each floor having 5,000 sft.

There are two separate four-storey dormitories for males and females named after Sheikh Jamal and Rosie Jamal.  The total area of the two buildings is 40,000 sft and each dormitory has 40 rooms. 

Besides, there is a 6-storey multipurpose training building with a  total floor area of 36,000 sft, each floor 6,000 sft.

The incubation building has a startup zone, innovation zone, industry-academic zone, brainstorming zone, an exhibition centre, an e-library zone, a data centre, research lab, video conferencing room and a conference room.

There will also be separate corners for banks and IT firms, cyber cafes, food courts, cafeterias, recreation zones, display zones and media rooms.

Additionally, the multipurpose training building boasts a state-of-the-art auditorium with a capacity of 250 people, and four computer/seminar rooms with a capacity of 50 people.

An artificial intelligence (AI) lab, a machine learning lab, an optical fibre backbone, a substation and a solar panel are also being set up.

Professor Dr M Moshiul Hoque said, "We hope that this incubator will create a bridge between industry and academia."

Mentioning that 200 people will be trained in one batch in the training lab, he said that they will hire resource persons from industry and universities as well as foreign experts to provide training in the labs alongside connecting large foreign companies offline online.

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