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Bangladesh Innovation Conclave hosted the 3rd edition of Bangladesh Innovation Fest – For A Smart Bangladesh, at The Grand Ballroom, Le Méridien, Dhaka, on February 18, 2023.

The day long fest consisted GPH Ispat presents Bangladesh Innovation Award in collaboration with Aspire to Innovate – a2i & in association with The Daily Star – Celebrating the Very Best of Innovation and the 4th edition of Bangladesh Business Innovation Summit.

Mr. Zunaid Ahmed Palak, MP, Honorable State Minister, ICT Division, Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh graced the award gala as the chief guest.
Hon’ble Chief Guest Mr. Zunaid Ahmed Palak, MP, during his speech, mentioned, “This year the fest is designed to pursue the roadmap for honorable PMs vision of SMART Bangladesh by 2041. I am glad to hear that throughout the day some of the leading global experts in Innovation along with local experts had multiple critical discussion in this regard. I am confident that the message and insights shared will help our business community to play the vital role of pushing the threshold of innovation.”

The summit was held to drive innovation and growth in different sectors of Bangladesh. The summit introduced a critical injunction based on the global economy, technology and innovation. It also introduced a roadmap for Bangladesh’s future and put forward policy-driven conversations on driving innovation and harnessing the skill sets to add value to the lives of people and helping them pursue inclusive growth.

The summit included 3 Keynote Sessions, 4 Panel Discussions, 3 Insight Sessions and 1 Case Study. The case study was conducted by Engr. Madani M Imtiaz Hossain, Technical Advisor, GPH Ispat Ltd., on GPH’s Innovation.

Opening Speech
Opening the event, Shariful Islam, Founder, Bangladesh Innovation Conclave, said, “This accolade upholds the reality that innovation drives every field of our economic and social lives. we have to develop an innovative mindset in every sector of the country and keep on finding the new areas where we can nurture innovation. It’s a long process, and we are here to commit longer.”

Welcome Speech
In the Welcome Speech of the summit, Mahammed Alamgir Kabir, Chairman, GPH Ispat Ltd., mentioned, “We at GPH Ispat Ltd. believe that Innovation is the key to sustain and develop the industries as well as the nation. Now is the time to reflect our progress and strategies that will shape our future. We all joined here today, have our very own collective responsibilities to develop the innovation ecosystem for A Smart Bangladesh.”

Keynote Session by Prof. Kun-Pyo Lee
The first keynote session of the summit was facilitated by Prof. Kun-Pyo Lee, Dean, School of Design; Swire Chair Professor, Design; Alex Wong Siu Wah Gigi Wong Fook Chi Professor, Product Design Engineering, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University. The session was focused on “Design-Driven Innovations for the Future.” Kun-Pyo Lee started the session by pointing out how the rule of games are changing every day. One of the pivotal changes is that there are no clearly defined distinctions between the competitors. For a car manufacturing company, a home-appliance manufacturing company is as much of a competition as another car manufacturing company. Another crucial point that Kun-Pyo Lee highlighted during his speech is companies’ tendency of digitising. The wind of change has also influenced the design industry. Designers can no longer confine themselves to photoshop or drawing, they need to modify themselves as AI enablers. Successful companies have been using AI to make their interface more user-friendly. For instance, Netflix uses AI to design 33 million different versions of itself to ensure every user has his or her model in line with their preferences. The paradigm shift has also transformed the problems of a designer. Now, the issue is no longer the experience of the designer but the changing ecosystem and how to enable it effectively. And to enable the changing ecosystem the first and foremost thing is to realise that design is no longer about co-creation, it is now about co-exploration.




Keynote Session by Prof. Ishtiaq Pasha Mahmood
A keynote session on “Good Strategy, Bad Strategy, No Strategy: How to Win the Battle for Tomorrow?” was led by Prof. Ishtiaq Pasha Mahmood, Head of Department, Strategy & Policy, NUS Business School, National University of Singapore. He claimed that a country is only as competitive as the firms in that country. At the same time, a company is as competitive as the ecosystem it operates in. The ecosystem in which the firms operate decides much of their capacities. It is important to remember growing in emerging markets like Bangladesh is not easy. Urbanisation in Bangladesh is a rapid process but not everyone will be a potential customer. The challenges of growing in an emerging market like Bangladesh are how to offer products and services that provide 90% value at 10% of the price and how to scale up when there is no reliable data and no reliable distribution channel. If one wants to grow in any country like Bangladesh the first thing, he or she needs to know is their customer. The second thing to know is how one can scale up and the third part is how to deal with the government.




Keynote Session by Dr. Yuosre Badir
Dr. Yuosre Badir, Associate Professor & Faculty Director (PhD & DBA Programs), School of Management, Asian Institute of Technology (AIT) took a keynote session on “The Human Side of The Organization’s Digital Transformation.” He started the session by pointing three reasons why IR 4.0 is distinct. The reasons are velocity, scope, and systems impact. Velocity means that the speed of the current breakthrough has no historical precedent. It is evolving exponentially rather than a linear space. The breadth and depth of these changes herald the transformation of entire systems of production, management, and governance. The ADB estimates the need for IR4.0 infrastructure investments across all of Asia is USD 26 trillion in new investment between now and 2030. IR4.0 has caused significant disruption and afraid of being left behind. Many organisations are rushing into investing in large-scale, radical digital transformation and hoping for the best. But in the race to do so, companies make some common mistakes. They begin with technological changes without developing the culture and mindsets of their human resource that require them to adopt and implement digital transformation. There are three characteristics that make an employee digitally competent- individual-level proactiveness orientation, individual-level risk-taking orientation, and individual-level innovativeness orientation.



Panel Discussion on “Intersection of Innovation Between Traditional Enterprise and Startup”
Shourav Islam, Founder & CEO, Farmersmarket.Asia moderated this panel discussion. The renowned guests who joined the panel were Adnan Imtiaz Halim, Founder and CEO, Sheba Platform Limited; Ashiqur Rahman (Rean), Chief Growth Officer, Dotlines; Minhaz Anwar, Chief StoryTeller, BetterStories Limited; Zaraif Hossain, Strategy & Transformation, Transcom Ltd.

The insightful discussion started by pointing out the differences between traditional enterprises and startups. Traditional enterprises are large-scale and take decades to reach that position. In contrast, startups try to reach substantial growth in a short amount of time. Yet, Startups should have the same model as large enterprises because, in one way or another, startups can be described as small companies that are on a journey to one day become what we call large enterprises. In order to construct a similar model, it is important to recognise the fundamental difference between both, which is the process of making money. Traditional businesses need to understand that startups first and foremost want customers’ love and on the flip side, traditional enterprises want to maximise profit. Both can help each other in achieving their respective goals. Empathy can be the quality that decreases the gap and builds healthy communication between startups and traditional enterprises. Enterprises aspire to be as innovative as startups and startups aspire to be as big as enterprises. The first relationship between startups and enterprises are vendor-client relationship. However, in order to build a successful collaboration, the first thing one needs to know is the model of collaboration. Growth has been the mantra for startups worldwide. If a startup wants to sustain a relationship with its clients, then it must need to have a KPI-driven innovation. On the other hand, to be the receptor of technology, enterprises need to welcome startups for collaboration.


Panel Discussion on “CEO’s Perspective: Creating and Fostering an Innovative Culture”
The panel discussion on “CEO’s Perspective: Creating and Fostering an Innovative Culture” was moderated by Khondoker Tasfin Alam, Chief Operating Officer, Daraz Bangladesh; Managing Director, HungryNaki. The distinguished panel members who joined the discussion were Asif Ashraf, Managing Director, of Urmi Group, Asif Iqbal, Group Chief Executive Officer, of Hamid Group, Syed Mahbubur Rahman, Managing Director & CEO, of Mutual Trust Bank Limited, Sabbir Hasan Nasir, Executive Director, ACI Logistics Ltd. (SHWAPNO).

They discussed that the first and foremost part of innovation is challenging how people think. And in order to challenge conventional thinking, a company must always experiment. For instance, Shwapno’s managerial strategy is experimentation. The company keeps a small budget for experimentation so that even if the experiment fails the company is able to mitigate the risk. The RMG sector of Bangladesh is also focusing on innovation. BGMEA has established a center of innovation to help companies that lack the financial and managerial capacity to innovate. In the pre-pandemic era, banks prioritised the supply side and skills instead of the creative side. But during the pandemic, banks were also forced to change it in order to deal with the unprecedented challenge and innovate new solutions. In order to balance between highlighting innovation as a value proposition and a sector that requires a huge share of the budget, a CEO needs to first understand how the company recognises innovation and what the company requires from it.

Panel Discussion on “Empowering Youth through Innovation”
This unique panel discussion was moderated by Marianne Oehlers, Programme Manager, Generation Unlimited, UNICEF Bangladesh. The discussion featured young innovators from different educational institutions. Generation Unlimited is a ‘glocal,’ global yet local initiative that inspires youth to innovate local solutions for global problems.

All successful initiative starts from an idea. But to sustain this idea funding is needed. Young people need the type of encouragement that Imagine Ventures are providing in order to sustain their ideas. Without hope, without optimism, it is impossible to implement any idea and transfer it to reality. Imagine Ventures also helped the youth to create an effective network.

Panel Discussion on “How to Build an Ecosystem for the Public that Drives and Supports Innovation”
A. K. Enamul Haque, President, Marketing Society of Bangladesh, Professor, Department of Economics & Dean, Faculty of Business and Economics, East West University moderated the discussion. He initiated the discussion and gave the floor to fellow distinguished panelists Fahim Mashroor, Co-Founder & CEO, Delivery Tiger BD, Co-Founder & CEO,; Prof. Ishtiaq Pasha Mahmood, Head of Department, Strategy & Policy, NUS Business School, National University of Singapore; Dr. Dewan Muhammad Humayun Kabir, Project Director (Joint Secretary), a2i – Aspire to Innovate; Md. Saiful Islam, President, Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce & Industry, Dhaka (MCCI); Sabur Khan, Chairman, Daffodil International University.

The panel started by pointing out that to foster successful innovations that will eventually foster successful entrepreneurs, building an ecosystem is crucial. The infrastructure development needs to be done by the government. The government needs to keep in mind to promote the young and innovative minds, they need to offer certain incentives. The pandemic can be a good example to understand the significance of the ecosystem. In every union council, a digital center had been built which helped to tackle the problem of fragmented opportunities and the digital divide. If the path of Digital Bangladesh had not been paved ten years ago then Bangladesh would have been in a huge slump during the time of the pandemic. Empathy training helps to look through the lenses of the citizen and policy linkages help to facilitate collaboration. These government learnings helped to make the process more effective for the people.

Insight Session by Dr. Rubaiyat Islam Sadat
Dr. Rubaiyat Islam Sadat, Business Mentor, XPRENEURS Incubator; Founder & Managing Director, Mulytic Labs GmbH; Founder & Managing Director, Mulytic Energy Solutions Ltd., Bangladesh conducted an insight session on “Inclusive Innovation and Entrepreneurship in the New Digital Era of Smart Bangladesh.” Dr. Rubaiyat Islam Sadat started the session by proposing a definition of ‘innovation’. According to him, “Innovation means standardising products, customer-focused, sustainable conditions, prompt delivery, and value addition.” There are five innovation platforms- AI, Battery Technology, Blockchain, Robotics, and Gene Sequencing. Currently, we are in a position where disruptive innovation technologies are ready to be in prime time. But it is crucial to keep in mind that every country in the world does not have the equal purchasing power to acquire these technologies. About 47% of the world’s GDP is in purchasing parity. Moreover, developing countries face additional challenges when it comes to innovation. To solve these challenges and foster inclusive innovation, leadership and knowledge management, macro-development trends, sustainable development and policies, and social innovation play decisive roles. Moreover, countries can also create an R&D base for inclusive innovation.


Insight Session by Dr. Syed Muntasir Mamun
Dr. Syed Muntasir Mamun, Chief Innovation Officer, Ministry of Foreign Affairs Govt. of The People’s Republic of Bangladesh shared his insight on “Strategic Business Framework in an Age of SMART Bangladesh.” He highlighted key characteristics of cyberspace- temporality, physicality, permeation, fluidity, participation, attribution, and accountability. Three basic things that innovation ethics contain are basic relationships, innovation trifecta, and qualifiers. Moreover, the innovation trifecta has three intersections: desirability, viability, and feasibility. He further propagated that innovation has certain qualifiers such as justice, beneficence, nonmaleficence, accountability, fidelity, autonomy, and veracity. The PESTEL model is the best procedure to evaluate innovation.




Insight Session by Anir Chowdhury
Anir Chowdhury, Policy Advisor, a2i – Aspire to Innovate conducted an insight session on “SMART Bangladesh.” He started by announcing that by 2041 Bangladesh’s per capita income will be 12,500 dollars. Smart Bangladesh 2041 vision will straddle 4 key pillars- smart citizen, smart society, smart economy, and smart government. Smart citizen personas will have embraced digital at the core of their daily lives. The smart government will build on digital innovations to safeguard and serve the public. Smart society is about ultimate inclusion. It will enable inclusive and sustainable living. Smart economy stakeholders will have digital at the core of their business lifecycle. The ‘Smart Bangladesh 2041 Master Plan’ includes digital ID and digital literacy. But technology needs to be able to reach the grassroots instead of enabling them to use the technologies. Smart Bangladesh 2041 should be achieved by the evolution of metrics across milestone years- 2025, 2031, and 2041.


Bangladesh Innovation Award 2023
Revelling into its 5th glorious year, the widely acclaimed GPH Ispat presents Bangladesh Innovation Award in collaboration with Aspire to Innovate – a2i & in association with The Daily Star – Celebrating the Very Best of Innovation, honoured 49 innovations following 26 Winners and 23 Honourable Mentions.
The award gala was attended by more than 500 professionals and industry experts. This year, more than 300 nominations from more than 100 organisations were submitted for the award in 21 categories. All the nominated campaigns were selected through 9 rigorous jury sessions comprising the most respected industry experts to keep the process transparent, accountable, and bias-free.The prestigious accolade showcases the best innovative practices and solutions in different sectors required to meet 4th Industrial Revolution and create a sustainable, innovative ecosystem for creating – ‘A Smart Bangladesh.’

The 3rd edition of Bangladesh Innovation Fest – For A Smart Bangladesh was initiated by Bangladesh Innovation Conclave. The initiatives were organised by Bangladesh Brand Forum. Supported by – Green Delta Insurance Company Limited; Mutual Trust Bank Limited; Walton Hi-Tech Industries PLC; Strategic Partner – Generation Unlimited; Hospitality Partner – Le Méridien, Dhaka; Technology Partner – aamra technologies limited; PR Partner – Backpage PR.

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