Disrupt Unlimited, the Apparel Start-up Seed Accelerator funded by Brandix, and the Sri Lanka Inventors Commission (SLIC) have entered into an agreement to establish a partnership to promote innovation in Sri Lanka and enhance opportunities in the fields of Textile, Apparel and Accessories.
A Memorandum of Understanding entered into recently by the two organisations envisages that SLIC through its regular programmes will identify inventors with potential to commercialise their inventions in these fields and introduce them for consideration by Disrupt Unlimited.
Disrupt Unlimited will review such inventors introduced by SLIC and select suitable candidates to go through its incubator or the Disrupt-a-thon programmes, which could lead to funding and additional mentoring to commercialise their ideas.
Speaking at the signing of the MoU, Brandix Director Udena Wickremesooriya stressed on the importance of building and fast-tracking an ecosystem which encourages and nurtures start-ups. "We are still in the infancy stages of this cycle," he said. "Therefore, we need to really go for it in the next five years to catch up to ecosystems that have been 25 years in the making."
He said the purpose of Disrupt Unlimited is to take big ideas to the global market. Mr Wickremesooriya advised inventors to "take the risks, make your ideas work, and deliver results." Besides, "if you successfully fail," he added, "Brandix will offer you an employment opportunity within its group of companies."
The Brandix Group's focus on promoting innovation began with its first sponsorship of 'Sahasak Nimewum' the annual competition and exhibition conducted by the Sri Lanka Inventors Commission for local inventors. Alongside the signing of the MoU with SLIC, Brandix presented cash awards to the owners of the top five inventions in the Apparel, Textile and Energy sectors at the 2013 Sahasak Nimewum competition.
Addressing the two events, SLIC Commissioner Deepal Sooriyarachchi said he is extremely pleased to see the efforts being made by Brandix to tap into the talent of young inventors. "Brandix is a company that values your innovative brain," he told the inventors. "This partnership will hopefully encourage other corporates to follow the Brandix example in supporting the SLIC. Five years from now when we look back, I want to be able to say that we have come a long way."
The five inventors rewarded were M. A. Firouze, G. H. G. G. M. C. Senarathna, and A. V. T. Thushan in the University category, and Asiri Dilhan De Silva and W. S. U. K. Wijesinghe in the Open category.
Launched in early 2014, Disrupt Unlimited is a seed accelerator that seeks to inspire, mentor and fund start-ups with breakthrough solutions to disrupt products, practices, processes and business models in the Apparel, Textile and Accessories sectors. The company’s role is to encourage innovators from across industries to develop technology-driven solutions that address challenges at every stage of the supply chains, leading to revolutionary changes in the way apparels, textiles and accessories are made, packaged, distributed and consumed.
Disrupt Unlimited will provide such start-ups with access to seed funding, advisors, practical workshops, networking opportunities, collaborative workspace and legal and administrative services, along with the opportunity to pitch game-changing ideas to venture capitalists and angel investors at an exclusive Demo Day.
Disrupt Unlimited was initiated by Brandix with an intention to fast-track Sri Lanka's evolution into a knowledge and innovation hub for the apparel, textile and fashion accessories sectors. In order to build a stronger ecosystem for innovation in Sri Lanka, Brandix has partnerships with the Universities of Colombo, Peradeniya, Moratuwa, Kelaniya, Sri Jayewardenepura and Wayamba and the Sri Lanka Institute of Information Technology (SLIIT). The Group also partners the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Global Start-up Labs (MIT-GSL) Sri Lanka programme, and sponsors the robotics competitions of several universities and institutions.