Fostering innovation, entrepreneurship towards Smart Nation

Izah Azahari

To stimulate technological innovation and creativity among individuals and students, as well as public and private organisations including micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) and start-ups, the Ministry of Transport and Infocommunications (MTIC) announced the opening of the Brunei ICT Awards (BICTA) 2020/2021 yesterday.

The press conference was held at the D&T building, where Permanent Secretary at the MTIC Haji Mohammad Nazri bin Haji Mohammad Yusof and InfoCom Federation Brunei (IFB) Chairman Sheikh Haji Abas bin Sheikh Mohammed were present in their capacity as the Co-Chairmen I and II of the BICTA 2021 Steering Committee.

In his opening remarks, Haji Mohammad Nazri said that BICTA acts as a benchmark for the development of ICT products by highlighting the platform for competition and recognition in local ICT innovation and creativity.

“The theme, ‘Smart Nation Through Digital Transformation’, is in line with the Digital Economy Council’s vision to make Brunei Darussalam a Smart Nation, as it focusses on the importance of leveraging digital technology for socio-economic development and enriching society with the skills and knowledge needed to participate in the digital economy effectively.

“BICTA is an initiative that will be able to foster innovation and entrepreneurship. This is a joint effort by us in implementing the digital transformation initiative to make Brunei Darussalam a Smart Nation and support the Brunei Vision 2035,” he said.

He also explained that BICTA 2020/2021 will have three main categories – ICT Industry, Tertiary and School – as well as five Special Awards for participation that focusses on the five latest developments such as Research and Development Project, Big Data Analytics Technology, Artificial Intelligence (AI) Technology, Internet of Things (IoT) and Startups.

Permanent Secretary at the MTIC Haji Mohammad Nazri bin Haji Mohammad Yusof and InfoCom Federation Brunei (IFB) Chairman Sheikh Haji Abas bin Sheikh Mohammed during the press conference. PHOTO: IZAH AZAHARI

“I call on and encourage individuals, students and representatives from the ICT industry to participate in the BICTA 2020/2021.

“Through BICTA, innovative products and solutions can be produced, which not only meet local needs, but are also responsive and in line with current technological trends and developments,” he said.

Haji Mohammad Nazri also discussed the efforts being made to disseminate information on BICTA 2020/2021, by means of a roadshow held in 2020 by the BICTA Steering Committee and the BICTA Working Committee, in addition to the BICTA Plus Bootcamp which began last December to aid BICTA participants with their business plans, formation of market-ready products and preparing for BICTA.

The bootcamp will be implemented until June, under the guidance and mentorship of expert trainees.

The winners will be announced during the BICTA 2020/2021 ceremony in August, after which the first-place winners will receive the opportunity to represent the Sultanate at the Asia-Pacific ICT Alliance Awards (APICTA) 2021 and compete with other partners from the Asia-Pacific region, subject to the latest COVID-19 pandemic situation.

“It is the aspiration that BICTA continues to play its role as a platform for innovation, creativity and forging strategic relationships and resilient business,” said Haji Mohammad Nazri.

Meanwhile, Sheikh Haji Abas noted that “BICTA is a national event, and that it is very important for the committee to choose their categories carefully, as the next step will be the APICTA participation involving a total of 18 countries that are competing to win”.

He added, “If Brunei is able to win one or two of the categories in APICTA, it will become our launch pad to go digitally and internationally. There’s no point in winning to cater to only the 400,000 population in the country; you want your product to actually go out regionally and internationally.”

BICTA 2020/2021 Chief Judge and President of SUHBE Company Pengiran Sarimah binti Pengiran Haji Abdul Latif, meanwhile, encouraged local participants, especially youth, to take the opportunity to research and participate in other valuable platforms outside Brunei. She added, “Most APICTA winners are those who have ventured out and won various competitions aside from national events.”

BICTA 2020/2021 participation is open to individuals, students, businesses, governments and organisations in three categories: School, which is open for individuals or groups of students in Year 7 to Year 11; Tertiary, which is open to individuals or groups of students in Year 12 to undergraduates; and Industry, which is open to individuals or groups, start-ups, companies and government entities.

Winners will receive BND3,000, BND7,000 and BND10,000 for each category.

BICTA is a component of the APICTA Awards where the quality and categories provided are in line with APICTA Standards. Brunei Darussalam’s participation in APICTA since 2008 has achieved two winning awards and 27 merit awards to date.

Previous winners of BICTA had the opportunity to represent Brunei Darussalam in APICTA, except for in 2020, when the awards were not held due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

To further refine the participants’ ideation and prototype, BICTA also provides the opportunity to upgrade skills and capabilities through the BICTA Plus Bootcamp for free. This programme serves as a platform for BICTA participants to benefit from mentorship and specialised programmes conducted by industry experts.

The BICTA Plus Bootcamp began last December and will run for seven months, until June this year. It is still open for registration.

BICTA is organised jointly by MTIC, Authority for Info-communications Technology Industry of Brunei Darussalam (AITI) and InfoCom Federation Brunei, supported by the Ministry of Education, Ministry of Religious Affairs, DARe (Darussalam Enterprise) and Brunei Intellectual Property Office (BruIPO).

More details for participation and the application form can be found on the BICTA website at www.bicta.gov.bn.

The deadline for entry submission is July 31. For further information, visit the BICTA website or contact the BICTA Secretariat at [email protected] or 2323232.