Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Wednesday (Jul 6) inaugurated the country's first university campus-based IT business incubator at Chittagong University of Engineering and Technology (CUET) as part of building "Smart Bangladesh". The premier opened it naming after Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman's eldest son 'Sheikh Kamal IT Business Incubator' at a ceremony at CUET campus in the morning. She joined the function virtually from her official residence Ganabhaban in the capital, local media reported.
Following the occasion, CUET campus took a festive look as colourful lights were lit up all over the university while banners, festoons and balloons of different colours were also displayed.
Faculty members and students of the university expressed their enthusiasm hoping that this incubator will create a bridge between industry and academia.
The incubator aims to develop IT entrepreneurs and expand knowledge-based economy for building the "Smart Bangladesh" by 2041 as the country has already materialised the "Digital Bangladesh" campaign.
The business incubator, which has a complete innovative eco-system for start ups and businesses, will provide some 220 entrepreneurs, trainees, freelancers and potential startups with financial and logistical services, alongside mentorships.
Industry insiders opined that the IT Business Incubator will be one of the keys in implementing "Smart Bangladesh" as it will be a centre of materialising new ideas to be explored by the university students and graduates as well as evolution hub of talents, intellects and knowledge of the next generations towards building the "Shonar Bangla" as dreamt by Bangabandhu.
The incubator also focuses on providing assistance to university graduates to develop themselves as entrepreneurs, establish effective links between universities and the IT industry, as well as create opportunities of research and innovation activities for the faculty and students of the university.
Constructed on 4.7 acres on the CUET campus involving Tk 113 crore, this will be the new cap to transform the country into "Smart Bangladesh" from the Digital Bangladesh campaign, first unveiled in the election manifesto of the present government in 2008.
In the incubator, there is high speed internet connection through BTCL. This unique project, implemented from July 2017 to June 2022, includes an oval incubation building up to 10-storey with 50,000 square feet (sft) space as each floor has 5,000 sft.
Besides, the PM also opened two separate four-storey dormitories for male and female named after Sheikh Jamal and Rosie Jamal respectively. The total area of the two buildings is 40,000 sft and each dormitory has 40 rooms.
In addition, there is a 6-storey multipurpose training building with a total floor area of 36,000 sft and each floor has 6,000 sft.
The incubation building has a startup zone, innovation zone, industry-academic zone, brainstorming zone, an exhibition centre, an e-library zone, a data centre, research lab, video conferencing room and a conference room.
There will also be separate corners for banks and IT firms, cyber cafes, food courts, cafeterias, recreation zones, display zones and media rooms.
Additionally, the multipurpose training building houses a state-of-the-art auditorium with a capacity of 250 people, and four computer/seminar rooms with a capacity of 50 people.
An Artificial Intelligence (AI) lab, a machine learning lab, an optical fibre backbone, a substation and a solar panel are also being set up.