To spur the development of digital technology ecosystem in the Sultanate, the Brunei Innovation Lab (BIL) was officially launched by Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office and Minister of Finance and Economy II Dato Seri Setia Dr Awang Haji Mohd Amin Liew bin Abdullah and Minister of Transport and Infocommunications Pengiran Shamhary bin Pengiran Dato Paduka Haji Mustapha yesterday.
The Digital Economy Council (DEC) co-chairpersons launched the new facility to help local start-ups and scaleups to produce technology solutions in addressing real world problems and capitalising market opportunities.
The lab, a joint collaboration between Brunei Shell Petroleum Company Sdn Bhd (BSP), Shell LiveWIRE Brunei (LiveWIRE), Datastream Digital Sdn Bhd (DST) and Darussalam Enterprise (DARe), will become an avenue for participants to conduct technopreneur programmes, training, pitching sessions and as a technology showcase gallery area for the public to learn the conceptual mechanisms and practical applications of new technologies. The lab occupies the ground and first floor of the Knowledge Hub (kHUB).
The BIL also aligns with the Sultanate’s aspirations to become a smart nation through the Digital Economy Masterplan 2025, driven by the DEC.
General Manager of BIL and Associate Vice President of Digital Business at DST Freddie Ting said developing an innovation and tech ecosystem increases the pipeline of solutions and products that not only address local opportunities, but may also have the potential to be scaled beyond Brunei.
BIL focusses on 10 new and emerging technology areas – artifical intelligence, robotics and automation, blockchain, cloud computing, data analytics, digital twin, Internet of Things (IoT), additive manufacturing and cybersecurity.
“By leveraging resources from the four founding organisations, we aim to develop this ecosystem by bringing together stakeholders and key players in this sector to create capacity building, market access and community programmes,” said Ting.
He shared that BIL has three pillars – flagship technopreneur development programme ‘Innovate Brunei’, capability accelerator to build competency in specific tech areas, and an innovative showcase to raise awareness of new technologies and technopreneurship.
Innovate Brunei has five main components or ‘pods’ designed to help technopreneurs progress from ideation to developing prototypes to achieving commercial scale.
The first pod called ‘Innovate Accelerator’ will allow participants gather for hackathons to develop solutions and products to opportunity areas identified by BIL based on market demand.
Successful participants will be connected to sponsors who will provide the seed funding to initiate the projects’ development.
Accelerator participants and existing technopreneurs can also access further funding from the second pod ‘Innovate Fund Connect’, which provides access to investors, venture capitalists and established organisations.
Further consultancy and support for participants is provided under the third pod ‘Innovate Boost’, which provides prospecting clients with a Brunei technopreneur directory.
The fourth pod ‘Innovate Beyond Brunei’ looks to assist start-ups looking to internationalise by providing them with market insight, connections and consultancy.
The final pod is the ‘Innovate Community’ that looks to connect the broader innovation ecosystem including BIL participants, higher learning institutions, national agencies and corporates through events and activities.
Acting DARe CEO Daniel Leong said the establishment of BIL addresses the need for an integrated tech-based entrepreneurship programme within the wider business development ecosystem, which will help increase the number and overall competitiveness of tech startups in the country.
“Tech start-ups have great potential to capture value and deliver innovation at scale, but they still only form a minority of the overall number of the startups in the country,” said Leong.
“With BIL, we hope to see more growth in the pipeline of new tech startups, which will eventually translate to more diverse solutions with greater reach.”
DST CEO Radin Sufri bin Radin Basiuni said that the collaboration with DARe, BSP and LiveWIRE, each of whom have their own start-up and innovation platforms, will collectively synergise a larger supporting ecosystem for BIL, along with DST’s debut into the innovation space, DST InnoLab.
“The use of technology as part of any start-ups or business is increasingly becoming more important, not only to create efficiencies but also new opportunities,” the CEO said, hoping DST to contribute to BIL with its own recent experience of digitally transforming itself.
BSP In-Country Value Manager Hajah Rosita binti Haji Hassan said their involvement in founding BIL comes with BSP recognising the relevance of supporting innovation as technology progresses in accelerated and unexpected ways.
“Fostering innovative solutions with practical applications is urgently needed to boost the economy in a digital and innovative way,” said Hajah Rosita.
“As we continue to build a more sustainable digital economy, BIL will enable us to co-create a robust portfolio of digital solutions, uniting everyone – businesses and consumers alike.”
The transition towards a smart nation sees the development and adoption of digital systems and technologies across the government, economy and wider society – contributing towards the national Vision 2035 of a dynamic and sustainable economy, backed by highly educated and skilled population that enjoys a high quality of life.