Sheikh Kamal IT Business Incubator has the potential to redefine business and education in Bangladesh by bridging the gap between promising young entrepreneurs and industries.
The incubator at Chittagong University of Engineering and Technology (Cuet) will also provide selected entrepreneurs with a platform to explore innovative ideas to their full potential by providing state-of-the-art laboratory and financial support.
Experts from different industries will be brought in to train up to 200 young entrepreneurs at each session in the incubator, through online and in-person lectures. Up to 28 teams of entrepreneurs (consisting of a maximum of four members each) will be given the opportunity to transform their ideas into a commercially viable product.
Large IT companies will be located on five of the 10 floors of the incubator building. Up to 32 smaller IT companies will each have around 350 square meters of office space.
Companies will use their spaces in the incubator primarily for research and product development. Seven labs in the building include AI support as well as two mini supercomputers for analyzing large data sets.
According to the policy, entrepreneurs will get office space for free for six months, while business entities will pay only Tk 10 per square meter. Entrepreneurs who successfully develop a commercially viable product will be given more time to develop it.
“An incubator is a nursing station or a support center. Young entrepreneurs will be able to grow because they will receive technical, infrastructural, financial and mentoring support,” said dr. M. Moshiul Hoque, Incubator Director.
“It will be a bridge between entrepreneurs and business entities, which will simplify the way for innovative new products to enter the market. It will also help the government in assessing policy and financial needs,” he added.
Entrepreneurs will be awarded grants of up to HRK 10,000 thousand from the Idea project, according to the director.
“If the industry thinks that the idea, product or software is commercially viable and will be beneficial to the country, there will be an agreement with the entrepreneur. That contract will be subject to certain IT rights and shares. A connection will also be established with various high-tech parks in the country, as well as academia,” he further said.
Chaldal.com has already set up its office on the 10th floor. It will employ 200 students from the local university. Meanwhile, LG-Butterfly, Huawei and Walton have made contact about opening their offices.
Dcrowd IT Ltd has set up an Advanced Artificial Intelligence (AI) Lab in the incubator for entrepreneurs and IT firms, although it is quite expensive to use.
“AI is now a very useful technology in solving various problems. Getting support for an AI lab is expensive for entrepreneurs, but it is available in an incubator,” said Raktim Sharma, Managing Director, Dcrowd IT Ltd.
Fourth year student of Cuet Mechatronics Department Protik Barua said, “Sheikh Kamal IT Business Incubator is functioning and started in Cuet. All of us current students consider ourselves very lucky to have been part of such an initiative from the very beginning.”
He added that he is optimistic that the incubator will encourage a new era of innovation in the country.
Zaima Sartaj, a fourth-year computer engineering student, said, “Students can now gain knowledge in various advanced technologies, such as AI, deep learning, machine learning and more. The result will be the emergence of a class of highly skilled workers.”
Cueto Vice Chancellor Dr Rafiqul Alam said, “Considering the reality of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR), the government has established the Sheikh Kamal IT Business Incubator at Cueto with the aim of developing career-oriented and entrepreneurial students.”