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Sri Lanka vows third-gen economic reforms, unveils first SME incubator & national policy

September, 13, 2017

Sri Lanka unveiled its first ever SME incubator on 13 September and vowed its third generation economic reforms shall be led by innovation, technology transfer and SMEs.

“We need to change our traditional mind-sets and think anew” said Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe on 13 September in Makandura Industrial Zone of the Ministry of Industry and Commerce. PM Wickremesinghe was addressing the launch event of Sri Lanka’s first ever Incubator and Technology Transfer Centre (ITTC) for SMEs, a joint collaboration between National Enterprises Development Authority (NEDA), Wayamba University and supported by Malaysian Technology Development Cooperation. The Cabinet approval was first received in July 2016 and the project, due to its importance, was fast tracked to be completed at the earliest time frame. At this event Prime Minister Wickremesinghe also launched NEDA’s new web portal www.neda.gov.lk

“We are planning large scale industry zones beyond Hambanthota and all the way to Wellawaya and on this side, extending to Wayamba Province” said PM Wickremesinghe and added: “For us to go into our next phase, we need more and more innovations. We need to change our traditional mind-sets and think anew. This is how Uber and AirBnB were born.”

“There are a little more than one million registered SMEs and MSMEs in Sri Lanka providing employment to three people on average” said Minister of Industry and Commerce Rishad Bathiudeen, and added: “We believe that SMEs are more than 70% of the total number of enterprises in the economy providing 45% of the employment and contributing to 52% of the Gross Domestic Production (GDP). NEDA under my Ministry has been taking many initiatives to develop this sector.  My Ministry and NEDA have introduced the National SME Policy and National SME Authority and we are handing over the first National SME Policy the Prime Minister at this event. Work is also progressing on the first ever SME authority of Sri Lanka. This authority will facilitate the development of this sector. It will not be a regulator but will help the micro enterprises to grow to small scale and small enterprises to grow up to medium and larger enterprises. In fact NEDA has been actively working to develop not only SMEs but even works to create new SMEs. The SME incubator launched today is the first ever SME incubator in Sri Lanka and this is not just an incubator. It is also the first ever technology transfer centre for Sri Lankan SMEs.  Sri Lanka’s SME sector is active across many sectors but few are in tech. This centre will focus on helping to establish technology SMEs across the country. The Malaysian Technology Development Cooperation has given us their expertise and supported us to establish Sri Lanka’s first SME incubator.”

Chairman of NEDA Omar Khamil said that the incubator is part of the third generation economic reforms of the Unity Government. “As our Prime Minster said, our reforms are led by innovation, technology and SMEs” he said.

The Ministry of Industry and Commerce has invested Rs 60 million for this pioneering tech incubator.

 

Minister of Industry and Commerce Rishad Bathiudeen (second from right), Minister of Budda Sasana, Sustainable Development and Wild Life Gamini Jayawickreme Perera (far right), Secretary of Ministry of Industry and Commerce Ministry Chinthaka Lokuhetti (second from left) and Director of NEDA Lakshman Wijeyewardana (third from left) join Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe at Sri Lanka’s first Incubator and Technology Transfer Centre (ITTC) for SMEs at Makandura on 13 September.