THE Brunei Economic Development Board (BEDB) organised an ‘Innovation and Entrepreneurship Awareness Roadshow’ for Bruneians in the United Kingdom, including undergraduate and postgraduate students studying various courses as well as working professionals.
The roadshow was led by Dato Paduka Haji Ali bin Haji Apong, Deputy Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office and Chairman of the BEDB, along with several members from the BEDB and the iCentre. The event was held on January 23 and 24, and was organised in collaboration with the Brunei Students Union (BSU) in the UK.
The roadshow, which had two separate sessions in Sheffield and London on January 23 and 24 respectively, gathered a total of 160 Bruneian students and working professionals.
The main objectives of the roadshow were to create awareness for Bruneians living overseas on opportunities of starting up tech-based innovative businesses, to introduce them to various assistance schemes that are readily available at the BEDB and iCentre, as well as to encourage people from different backgrounds to collaborate and generate high tech ideas.
Most importantly, the roadshow was aimed at inspiring the attendees to take up entrepreneurship and start their own innovative businesses as an alternative career option.
In an address to the attendees, Dato Paduka Haji Ali quoted His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam’s titah in conjunction with the 26th Convocation of Universiti Brunei Darussalam, in which His Majesty encouraged students to change their mindsets and to be more proactive instead of waiting for jobs. Dato Paduka Haji Ali also emphasised that collectively, there is urgency to act now if we are to realise our Wawasan 2035 goals.
Dato Paduka Haji Ali further stated, “Brunei’s economy needs to be less reliant on the oil and gas sectors by much stronger growth in the other sectors, our workforce productivity should be significantly increased through innovation and technology, and employment in the private sector needs to grow rather than in the government.
“Under the BEDB, pipelines are continuously being built to enable the creation of new innovative, science and technology based start-ups and entrepreneurs,” he added.
There were presentations on the various assistance schemes provided by the BEDB and iCentre especially dedicated for start-up businesses. The schemes highlighted were the Local Enterprise Application Product (LEAP) Grant Scheme, the annual IGNITE Entrepreneurship Challenge Competition, Startup Brunei (SUB) Grant Scheme and incubation opportunities at the iCentre.
To further instil and inspire the audience to take up entrepreneurship, the BEDB invited local entrepreneur, Keeran Janin, CEO of a new mobile application called ‘Chrends’ for a sharing session. Keeran shared with the audience his journey as an entrepreneur and how he eventually located his start-up in Silicon Valley.
By introducing these roadshows that emphasise on innovation and entrepreneurship, the BEDB hopes to diversify Brunei’s economy beyond reliance on oil and gas and achieve Brunei Vision 2035 through the support and growth of local SMEs and start-ups.
Apart from the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Awareness Roadshow, Dato Paduka Haji Ali was also invited to deliver a keynote address and participate in a panel discussion for the 2nd Brunei Students’ Research Symposium (BSRS) 2015. This one-day symposium aims to give Brunei Students in the United Kingdom and Eire, an opportunity to present any aspect of their current, previous or future research in various fields.