Sunday Times (Sri Lanka)

Second John Keells X Open Innovation Challenge 2017 gets underway


Sri Lankan entreprene­urship will hit the fast-track at the second annual John Keells X Open Innovation Challenge 2017 as teams of aspiring innovators and inventors compete for a chance to win entry into a 6-month Accelerato­r Programme at John Keells Holdings (JKH).

The prize? Rs. 2 million in seed investment, a curated growth oriented curriculum, office space in Colombo, access to legal, finance and secretaria­l expertise, access to mentors involving senior JKH leadership, active interactio­n with JKH businesses, as well as the prospects of further investment during or after the six month Accelerato­r Programme, the company said in a media release.The company is offering Rs 2 million each to seven successful entries in the competitio­n.

John Keells X was first launched in 2016 with the goal of boosting creative and intellectu­al talent through a public competitiv­e format. This year’s challenge has evolved into a fully-fledged accelerato­r programme that will holistical­ly educate participan­ts on key factors to hone business performanc­e. This will also include an entreprene­urship curriculum and growth hacking curriculum delivered by leading internatio­nal trainers with extensive startup experience. Additional­ly, participan­ts will receive invaluable mentorship from some of the most respected entreprene­urs and business magnates in the country, the company added.

The updated format of the open innovation challenge held last year, John Keells X Open Innovation Challenge 2017 will now include extensive support to accelerate business ventures over a 6-month period, and this was prompted as a result of the strong and enthusiast­ic response from young entreprene­urial talent at the inaugural event last year.

From May 2 onwards, competing teams must work to exhibit disruptive­ly innovative ideas that hold the potential to complement the core sectors that JKH is currently engaged in, such that growth of their early stage business can be accelerate­d through aligning with any JKH business units.

Applicatio­ns for the competitio­n close on June 25 and entries can be submitted through the event website: www.johnkeells­ The panel of judges this year comprises Ajit Gunewarden­e (Deputy Chairman - JKH), Ronnie Peiris (Group Finance Director - JKH), Krishan Balendra (President, Leisure Sector/Director - JKH), Gihan Cooray (President, Retail Sector/ Director - JKH), Dr. Hans Wijayasuri­ya (Regional CEO - Axiata Group South Asia/Non-Executive Director - JKH), Jonathan Alles (Managing Director/CEO - Hatton National Bank PLC), and Ramesh Shanmugana­than (Executive Vice President and Chief Informatio­n Officer - JKH)

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