“A hub is the central part of a wheel, rotating on or with the axle, and from which the spokes radiate.” Singapore talks about about hubs, and generally pulls off the creation of the hub, relegating others to spoke status. But this has had the unfortunate side-effect of making hub a bit of a meaningless word. And as anyone who has had spokes damaged in a bicycle wheel can testify, a hub is useless without spokes.
LIRNEasia is a born-regional organization. We have no atavistic nationalist fixations. Our loyalty is to those at the bottom of the pyramid anywhere. So we can be dispassionate about where and how innovation platforms will emerge in our region. So while it is important that all countries/governments try to understand what is needed to create innovation platforms, they need not get fixated in hub status. And as anyone who has walked the lonely streets of Cyberjaya can testify, organic growth is better than greenfield.
With the potential to diversify business activities and emerge as an innovation technology hub, the government and the industries are building an ecosystem that will gather money, ideas and talents in a sustained manner. It’s clear that the global perception of Sri Lanka is changing. As the startup ecosystem continues to grow in size, ambition and reputation, with careful planning, Sri Lanka could even be turned into another Silicon Valley.
With big plans to cement itself as a premier startup hub in the region, the country needs fast-growing, highly visible startups. Sri Lanka does have a fleet of companies that are trying to fit that description. ”Since more and more startups are being set up, eventually it forces them to be differentiated. You simply can’t afford to be another ‘me too’ in the startup ecosystem,” Ruwindhu added.
Aside from the “scale fast” startup mentality, another factor that is propelling the Sri Lankan startup dream is the good pool of millennial talent. “Given the peace dividend, we are experiencing a growing number of returnees equipped with valuable global experience wanting to make an impact in Sri Lanka. My favorite thing about being part of Stax is the energy of the amazing group of people I get to work with on a daily basis. What stands out is their high self esteem, natural curiosity and the drive to challenge the status quo.