The opening ceremony of the Bangabandhu Innovation Grant (BIG) 2023 was held on 28 March 2023, Tuesday, at the BCC Auditorium of ICT Tower, Agargaon, Dhaka.
Organized by the Innovation Design and Entrepreneurship Academy (iDEA) project, Bangabandhu Innovation Grant (BIG) is a platform that provides grants, mentorship, and networking opportunities to startups and entrepreneurs across all sectors. iDEA Project of Bangladesh Computer Council (BCC) under the ICT Division of the Government of the People's Republic of Bangladesh has been organizing "BIG" since 2019.
The State Minister for the ICT Division Mr. Zunaid Ahmed Palak MP was present as the chief guest of the program. The Secretary of the ICT Division Mr. Md. Shamsul Arefin, the Executive Director (Grade-1) of BCC Mr. Ranajit Kumar, and the Managing Director of Startup Bangladesh Limited Mr. Sami Ahmed were present as the special guests of the event. The program was presided over by the Project Director (Joint Secretary) of the iDEA project Mr. Md. Altaf Hossain.
The Hon'ble State Minister for the ICT Division Mr. Zunaid Ahmed Palak MP urged young innovators to tackle the economic crisis by providing technology-based solutions to the country's problems and said that our youth is not short of talent, they need cooperation. We are providing that opportunity through the Bangabandhu Innovation Grant. He expressed hope that our young innovators will solve the problems not only of the country but also of the world.
The State Minister said that we have launched the iDEA Project and established Startup Bangladesh Limited to support entrepreneurs. A startup ecosystem will be developed in the country through these institutions. Besides, Bangladesh will become an attractive hub for investors in the future. Startups don't grow slowly; Goes up at rocket speed. He pointed out that bKash, Nagad, and ShopUp have already become billion-dollar companies.
The ICT Secretary, Mr. Md. Shamsul Arefin said that we are ahead of the world in the number of young people. A country can move forward through youth. He said that entrepreneurs are going to create a platform or steps to take Bangladesh forward by getting the BIG grant. He also expressed hope that those who will win through this innovation grant will take our country further through their new innovation.
BCC Executive Director (Grade-1) Mr. Ranajit Kumar mentioned in his speech that the number of startups has been increasing for the past few years. He expressed the view that the contribution of startups in the entry stage from Digital Bangladesh to Smart Bangladesh is undeniable.
Mr. Sami Ahmed, Managing Director of Startup Bangladesh Limited, said that we are working towards making Smart Bangladesh by 2041. He inspires startups by saying that startups get networking and feedback opportunities from BIG, which are very important for them. Finally, he requested all the entrepreneurs, innovators, and startups of the country to participate in the Bangabandhu Innovation Grant competition.
In the speech of the program chair, iDEA Project Director and Joint Secretary Md. Altaf Hossain urged everyone to work together to build a digitally prosperous Bangladesh. He said that BIG is a wonderful initiative. BIG will play a unique role in the socio-economic development of the country besides serving as a role model for all aspiring entrepreneurs or startups.
Mr. Siddhartho Goushami Sr. Consultant of iDEA and BIG 2023 Chief Coordinator gave a presentation on BIG 2023 at the event. In addition, the Deputy Project Director (Deputy Secretary) of iDEA Dr. Md. Mizanur Rahman, iDEA Project Communications Consultant & Associate Coordinator of BIG 2023 Mr. Sohag Chandra Das, iDEA Project Consultant and BIG 2023 Technology Associate Coordinator, Mr. Abul Kalam Ahsanul Azad, iDEA Human Resources Consultant, Mr. Md Nazim Uddin along with ICT Division, BCC and others different officials of the government and private institutions were present.
Registration for the competition is open now and startups can register by visiting “BIG 2023” website. Any information technology-oriented entrepreneur can participate in the contest by applying before 22nd April 2023, Saturday.
BIG plans to select 300 innovative startups at the initial stage. Later, a 3-day boot camp will be organized with the selected top startups. The top 51 startups of “BIG 2023” will be selected from the most promising startups of the boot camp, and the final round of BIG will be organized with the best 5 startups selected among them. From this final round, a selection panel consisting of experienced judges will select the final result of the grand event.
As a recognition of the BIG 2023, the best startup will be awarded a special honor and a grant of BDT 1 crore. The rest of the top 50 startups will also be awarded a grant of BDT 10 lakh each. Besides, there are different opportunities for startups including investment opportunities. Not only that, the best 51 startups of BIG 2023 will be given special certificates of appreciation.
The BIG was held for the second time in 2021 after gaining huge popularity among startups for the first time in 2019. In view of this, the ICT Division decided to organize the popular event for the 3rd time in 2023. The theme of this event is “DARE TO STAND BIG”. ICT Division, BCC, Startup Bangladesh Limited, Department of ICT, Bangladesh Hi-Tech Park Authority, a2i, Enhancing Digital Government and Economy (EDGE) project, and Digital Entrepreneurship and Innovation Eco-System Development Project are helping to make the "BIG 2023" event a success.
For registration and more details about BIG, applicants may visit www.big.gov.bd