Twenty five aspiring Sri Lankan entrepreneurs, chosen from 100 candidates with ideas for potentially game-changing technology startups, have embarked on the 2015 MIT Global Startup Lab (GSL) programme in Sri Lanka conducted by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in partnership with leading apparel manufacturer Brandix and WSO2, a leader in enterprise middleware.
Four MIT instructors are working with the GSL teams during the seven-week 'incubation' phase of the programme, designed to identify, develop and commercialise successful technology-based enterprises from idea validation to prototype by 7th August 2015 when the programme ends with a demo day pitch.
The decision this year to open up the programme to working professionals has significantly elevated the extent of domain knowledge and experience among the prospective startups, raising the intensity of the programme, according to Joseph Yang, the GSL Country Manager for Sri Lanka this year. Last year's MIT-GSL Sri Lanka programme, also supported by Brandix, was limited to undergraduates and recent graduates.
The MIT-GSL Instructor team consists of Perla I. Villarreal (Technical Lead), a graduate of Computer Science and Engineering from MIT; Pallavi Mishra (Entrepreneurship Lead), a System Design & Management (SDM) fellow at MIT; Nitah Onsongo (Entrepreneurship Assistant), an undergraduate in Mechanical Engineering at MIT and Joseph Yang (Country Manager), also an SDM fellow at MIT.
As a co-sponsor of the MIT-GSL Sri Lanka programme for the second successive year, Brandix provides programmatic support in addition to mentorship and domain expertise to all teams.
"One of our principal focus areas is building an ecosystem for technological innovation," said Udena Wickremesooriya, Director of Brandix. "The MIT-GSL Sri Lanka programme is one of several initiatives being supported by Brandix to stimulate technology startups, promote invention, innovation and advances in automation because we believe that the future of the apparel industry will be significantly technology-dependent."
WSO2, the open source technology company that is redefining enterprise middleware is the co-sponsor of the 2015 MIT-GSL Sri Lanka programme. In addition to providing guidance and insights in the technology and IT domain, WSO2 is providing its training room at the WSO2 head office for the GSL classroom as well as helping to host the demo day at Trace City on 7th August.
The first MIT-GSL Sri Lanka programme supported by Brandix last year resulted in eight possible startups of which four teams found funding for commercialisation of their proposals.