| Danial Norjidi |
THE Ignite Entrepreneurship Challenge aims to provide participants with a learning and experiential journey in developing a technology business venture. This year’s edition has enjoyed a significant increase in submissions for the challenge’s open category, gathering 159 submissions.
This was revealed by the Director of KR Consulting and NUS Enterprise, Brian Koh during the prize presentation to winners of the competition at the awards showcase, yesterday.
Held at the Royal Brunei Polo and Riding Club in Jerudong, he also shared that the Ignite Entrepreneurship Challenge is the starting point of the journey. “At the iCentre, we will continue to assist founders with great passion to develop best of breed solutions for both the local and overseas markets. They will also provide further assistance in developing participants’ ideas that did not make it to the final rounds,” he said.
Prior to the announcement of winners, the competition’s Chief Adjudicator Md Norshafiee bin Dato Paduka Hj Abd Jalil cum Director of the e-Government National Centre, gave a briefing on the process of the final judging round, highlighting that the panel of judges had to deliberate extensively. The process of identifying winners was challenging because the quality of submissions were very high, overall.
He praised the competition, which has grown significantly over the years, describing it as a great opportunity for youths to pursue their ideas and turn them into businesses.
Executive summaries in the earlier rounds of the challenge were conducted by a selection of judges from industry partners and stakeholders, including AITI, BEDB and BIBD, among others. Out of 159 executive summaries, 41 were chosen to proceed to the semi-final round, where participants submitted a full business plan and pitched their ideas to the final judges. This resulted in the selection of 12 finalists.
Brian Koh then joined the guest of honour, Dato Paduka Awang Haji Ali bin Haji Apong, Deputy Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office and Chairman of the Brunei Economic Development Board on stage to present prizes to the winners.
For the college and university category, students from Institut Teknologi Brunei (ITB) claimed victory, winning first prize of $4,000 for their project, “ITB Smart Shower”, which is a shower system that discourages excessive use of water by putting a limitation on water usage per shower through the use of a programming board. As the winning students were unable to attend the ceremony due to ongoing exams, a lecturer received the prize as a representative.
Universiti Brunei Darussalam (UBD) team NKB finished second winning $2,000 for their tourist application, “Do Tour”, while third place and $1,000 went to another ITB team for their submission, “IntelCar Technology”.
In addition, the competition featured an international category that was eventually won by Singaporean company QP Innovations’ music portal, “YouBusk”, which showcases musicians, while allowing monetisation through in-app advertising. Their efforts earned them a prize of $8,000.
First prize in the ICT open business plan category was awarded to the two-member team, Tyne Solutions, for their project, “Pillars”. Tyne Solutions focuses on providing SMEs with cloud-based enterprise software that is affordable and user-friendly. Winning the category earned the company $20,000.
Speaking to the Bulletin after the win, Tyne Solutions’ CEO & CPO Mark Harbison said, “We’re mainly a cloud solutions provider. We have a couple of different products now. One is Pillars, an upcoming project we’re currently developing, which will help businesses run themselves from pretty much anywhere.
“It’s going to incorporate cloud technology, mobile technology and key business features to allow someone to handle HR, admin, database setup and so one from wherever they are.”
The inspiration behind the idea, he explained, came from meeting with different companies. “As part of our current product, SquareFeet.Asia, we met with a lot of estate agents to talk about how to streamline their businesses, and we noticed that they could really benefit from digitising their files, and essentially making the systems more collaborative. We thought we could translate that to other businesses. “There was a lot of very good competition this year, so we’re very happy to have won,” he said, adding that entrepreneurs should definitely look to take part in future editions of the Ignite Entrepreneurship Challenge.
“This competition allowed us to better grasp how people view business here. It’s a very good way of looking at business. It’s just very different from the way I’ve looked at it before, so it gives me a better insight into how to run a business here, how to network and so on. It’s a great way to publicise your product and a great way to network, and it’s great if you win,” he added. On the topic of future plans for venturing abroad, Mark shared, “Essentially, the Asean region first, then in about eight years we’re planning on moving out to the rest of Asia, and we’ve also got our eye on Germany. We’ve met with some people from Germany, and they don’t have any solutions like ours there yet, so we want to move out there.”
Meanwhile, second prize of $10,000 was won by Uplife, whose project provides a fee platform that allows the management of offline bookings and appointments. Two teams finished as joint third-placed winners, namely Tasche for their interactive jobseeker platform for part-time jobs and Lighthouse Ideasfarm for their “end-to-end customer engagement” product. Both teams took home $5,000 for their efforts.