Innovation Nation Sri Lanka – An Avenue for the Young Innovators

As the youth, we crave transformation and yearn for action. Embracing the prime of our lives, if you possess an idea, don’t hesitate to set it in motion. Seize the opportunity to take decisive steps forward. Do you find yourself brimming with countless ideas but lacking guidance on how to bring them to fruition? Why not explore the realm of INSL then? 

IEEE Innovation Nation Sri Lanka (INSL) is a volunteer-led effort by the IEEE Sri Lanka Section launched in 2018 with an awareness of the potential and demand for startup enablement for young entrepreneurs in Sri Lanka. The objective of IEEE Innovation Nation Sri Lanka is to establish a program that is viable and enduring, with the aim of providing training, mentoring, and financial support to budding entrepreneurs and inspiring innovation and entrepreneurship among the Sri Lankan youth. 

Since its founding in 2018, INSL has been on a mission to inspire and support Sri Lanka’s aspiring entrepreneurs. Over the past five years, it has grown and evolved, becoming a driving force behind the country’s innovation. IEEE Innovation Nation Sri Lanka intends to build a scalable, and sustainable program for school students, university undergraduates, fresh graduates, and students who have recently completed their A/L exam to succeed in their entrepreneurial ventures. INSL has transcended beyond just being a competition and has evolved into a training platform and then an ecosystem for aspiring innovators and early-stage startups, providing them with an opportunity to subject their ideas or businesses to a rigorous evaluation process and equip themselves for future accelerators and investments. 

INSL 2022 was hailed as an overwhelming success, setting an unprecedented standard for the prestigious event. It witnessed a remarkable surge in participation, with over 2500 applications flooding in through our highly anticipated application call. The magnitude of interest demonstrated the growing prominence and influence of INSL in the entrepreneurial community. Determined to elevate the program to greater heights, no stone was left unturned in curating a series of exceptional events. A total of 20 events were meticulously planned for INSL 2022, with 11 events being held physically, providing not only invaluable networking opportunities but also fostering a vibrant atmosphere where ideas could flourish. 

To ensure regional representation and inclusivity, INSL 2022 acknowledged the significance of recognizing all nine provinces on the island. However, due to a substantial number of applicants, the western province was divided into two regions. Consequently, the INSL 2022 introduced 10 provincial competitions, strategically covering the entire island in partnership with regional startup hubs, IEEE student branches, and INSL stakeholders. This groundbreaking approach empowered budding innovators from diverse backgrounds to showcase their ideas during the idea stage and brought together some of the most promising startups from across the country.

The initiative received an overwhelming response, underscoring the remarkable talent spread throughout the nation. 

The Hustle story which was organized by INSL 2022 was focused on motivating the audience to be successful future entrepreneurs and encouraging them to join the startup ecosystem. As part of the event, there was a volunteer training session for the volunteers who were involved with INSL 2022. It was an informative and motivational session organized for the INSL 2022 organizing committee members, the Provincial coordinators, University Representatives, and the members of Regional Organizing committees. Another remarkable session of INSL was Road to INSL, an impressive training program focused on setting off the entrepreneurial spark in a young person or nurturing the competitiveness inside those already dreaming of becoming entrepreneurs. Additionally, INSL in collaboration with ICTA organized an Entrepreneurship fair and a webinar targeting undergraduate students and building entrepreneurs for Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW), which is a global initiative that recognizes and empowers entrepreneurs in every country, as it was held in Sri Lanka in 2022. 

In addition to the events and competitions, INSL 2022 hosted 11 awareness sessions designed to spread knowledge and insights among the entrepreneurial community. These sessions covered a wide range of topics including market trends, investment opportunities, and best practices in entrepreneurship. By facilitating knowledge sharing, INSL 2022 aimed to equip participants with the necessary tools and resources to navigate the challenges of the entrepreneur world successfully. 

INSL has launched its 2023 work plan with a vision to empower young entrepreneurs and promote startup culture in the country. With a comprehensive strategy in place, INSL aims to achieve its highest goals by identifying and nurturing innovative ideas and talents across various regions and universities. This year as well it will be implemented in both Regional & National level platforms to broaden the concept of innovation. Unlike the past years, The Grand Finale of INSL of 2023 is planned to be conducted on a grand scale with more participation, and also the competition will now include a category specifically for school students as well. We are thrilled to be able to provide this platform for Sri Lanka’s brightest minds to connect, collaborate and compete in a truly exceptional event. 

Bringing about a significant impact on Sri Lanka’s economy, technology, and society, with its mission to develop a culture of innovation, INSL has been instrumental in promoting entrepreneurship and innovation among youngsters. It has provided various initiatives such as mentorship programs, webinars, entrepreneur fairs, and opportunities for young entrepreneurs and innovators to develop and showcase their ideas. 

So, let’s raise a toast to INSL for their unwavering commitment to innovation and for the remarkable impact they have made in Sri Lanka. May their efforts continue to inspire and empower the next generation of Sri Lankan innovators.

Author Details:- 
Thiloka Senavirathne & Dhanuka Jayawardhana Secretariat Team 
Innovation Nation Sri Lanka 2023