“Sri Lanka is creating an ecosystem to build products for Govtech, Agtech, and Green Energy with global application. Fueled by world-renowned tech talent and award-winning coworking spaces, incubators, and accelerators, Sri Lanka boasts of a steady growth in ecosystem value targeting US$1 billion by 2024.”
The startup ecosystem in Sri Lanka has been growing steadily over the past decade with the island currently home to 748 startups. Startup SL aims to create 1,000 new startups by 2025, and there are numerous initiatives helping make this a reality. Innovate Lanka assists startups with funding and acceleration, and the winner of the Innovate Lanka 2022 competition entered the Global Entrepreneurship Network (GEN)-Global Programme. Microsoft for Startups Founders Hub was launched in October 2022. AccelerateHER, from Hatch and the U.S. Department of State, is Sri Lanka’s first accelerator for female founders. John Keells X is an accelerator and open innovation program that helps startups obtain the funding, training, and connections to scale. In February 2022, work began on the first of five tech parks aiming to attract foreign investment and establish Sri Lanka as an innovation hub. Global Entrepreneurship Week Sri Lanka was hosted by the Information and Communication Technology Agency of Sri Lanka (ICTA) in December 2022.
In April 2023, the President instructed the Ministry of Technology to form an AI task force with an aim of increasing the nation’s AI activity. At DIGIECON 2030, a digital economy 2030 master plan and a regulatory policy framework were developed, aimed at transforming the country into an inclusive digital economy. Colombo- and Jaffna-based Hatch was named the best coworking space in the world at the Global Startup Awards 2021.
Ecosystem by the Numbers
The Sri Lankan government aims to generate 70% of the nation’s electricity from renewable sources by 2030 and reach net zero by 2050. In 2022, Adani Group was granted approval to develop 500MW of renewable energy projects. The group is expected to invest $500 million. NTPC Limited and Ceylon Electricity Board, the state-owned electricity company of Sri Lanka, are collaborating to develop a 50MW solar-power plant.
The Lanka Government Network connects over 860 state institutions, and the Lanka Government Cloud provides hosting to 150 government agencies. The National Data and Identity Interoperability Platform bridges government information systems. In 2022, the ICTA launched the Digital Libraries Project to establish 26 model digital libraries and the government announced the biometrics Unique Digital Identity program. The National Fuel Pass is a digital service that keeps track of drivers’ fuel quota. The Courts Automation Project aims to improve efficiency by establishing an ICT-based court management system.
Agtech & New Food
The International Water Management Institute and the Department of Agrarian Development Sri Lanka launched the GeoGoviya monitoring and feedback system to improve coordination and information sharing in the Agriculture sector. In 2022, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation offered to assist Sri Lanka in the development of Farmer Data Management Systems and Digital Strategy. In early 2023, the government announced several initiatives to enhance food security, including the National Food Security Act.
Reasons to Move Your Startup to Sri Lanka
Access to Talent
Sri Lanka has a sizable talent pool that provides international startups with affordable resources. Initiatives to further strengthen the talent pool include XpressJobs and ICTA’s initiative to help startups improve their recruitment. The University of Moratuwa’s open learning platform provides free training in full-stack development. The National Future Talent Initiative provides youth with a guided path to pursue careers in IT and business.
Sri Lanka’s proximity to the Indian sub-continent positions it as a gateway to a market of 1.3 billion people, and the nation is an established offshoring location. New economic zones are planned in the country's western and north-western provinces, as well as in Hambantota and Trincomalee districts, to attract foreign investment. Foreign investors maintain 100% ownership of investments.
The Spiralation Startup Incubator provides support for early-stage technology entrepreneurs, including seed funding, training, networking, and business promotion opportunities locally and internationally. ICTA’s 10,000 Ideas Startup Challenge is an innovation program to empower the next generation of tech entrepreneurs, and ICTA’s partnership with Brandix Apparel will fund 10 selected startups. SPARX Lab nurtures early-stage startups with guidance, mentoring, and networking opportunities.
Selected Startup Organizations
Startup Genome Members
Information and Communication Technology Agency of Sri Lanka
Information and Communication Technology Agency (ICTA) of Sri Lanka is the apex ICT institution of the government. In terms of the Information and Communication Technology Act No. 27 of 2003, (ICT Act) as amended by Act No. 33 of 2008, ICTA has been mandated to take all necessary measures to implement the Government’s Policy and Action Plan in relation to ICT, in terms of the Section 6 of the ICT Act.
Key Ecosystem Players
News from the Ecosystem
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