Country needs innovators
By Malek Hashim & Syafiq Affendy

Her Royal Highness Princess Hjh Masna, Ambassador-At-Large at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, said the country needs dreamers and innovators such as Thomas Edison, Alexander Graham-Bell, Jack Kilby and Robert Noyce as these people brought dramatic developments that totally changed our world through the introduction of electricity, telephone and computers.

"All these ideas evolved from ordinary people with extraordinary passion to change the world by thinking out of the box. So, if at first you do not succeed, you pick yourself up, learn from your failures and always continue to move forward, with your head held high," HRH added.

Her Royal Highness delivered a keynote address at the prize presentation of the Think Big Business Plan Competition at The Empire Hotel and Country Club, Jerudong. Brunei Economic Development Board (BEDB) organised the competition.

"The competition is a commendable initiative by the iCentre providing an opportunity for our local SMEs to further their ideas, creativity and innovation in the ICT field.

"I see it as a competition with an edge, with substantial prize money as seed capital to enable them to implement their business plans efficiently. And it does not just end there, with the guidance and mentorship from the iCentre, and God willing, they are on the right track to realise their dreams.

"I applaud your (the competition participants) creativity and passion in submitting your business plans. It is one thing to dream and come up with an idea but you have taken bold steps by assessing the viability of your idea and then translating it into an actual plan," said Princess Masna.

HRH also lauded the collaboration between BEBD and NUS Enterprise in shaping up the iCentre that has expanded opportunities for Brunei's entrepreneurs and enhanced their capabilities.

"I have visited the iCentre and was impressed and delighted to see so many talented and innovative young entrepreneurs all housed under one roof. One could feel their vibrancy, excitement, energy and passion. It was heartening to see how they enjoy working amongst themselves and with stakeholders outside the centre," HRH added.

HRH also spoke about three of the iCentre's newly established companies that recently signed agreements with a Philippines Telco operator in Manila to use their technologies, including one involving Islamic applications. This would enable them to gain market access and promote their own products regionally and beyond.

"I would like to extend my heartiest congratulations and their achievements serve as a fine example to our other young talents to follow suit," HRH added.

"I am glad to see that the iCentre is also working closely with our educational institutions to encourage more young people with ideas to come forward. These institutions are building blocks for creativity and innovation. We need to nurture our young talents and give them the right guidance and support to achieve their fullest potential.

"It never fails to amaze me how the use of ICT has proliferated into our daily lives. It has improved our communications and standard of living, and generally has made processes more efficient. It is a powerful tool in driving innovation and developing entrepreneurship which are fundamental to expanding economic opportunities and increasing competitiveness, Hence, it will be an important enabler in our quest to achieve our 'Vision 2035'," said Her Royal Highness.

Out of the eight finalists, Rafiqun WDSI Sdn Bhd with their ICT business plan 'Brumesh' caught the attention of the panel of seven judges of diverse backgrounds for the grand prize of $20,000.

The second spot was snatched by Expansys Technology with their ICT business plan 'YouGotSnapped' and won themselves $10,000 cash prize, followed by 24-7 Assist with their ICT business plan 'Outsource Contact Centre' in third place and took home $5,000.

The competition's Special Islamic Merit Award went to Mimit e-Technology (MET) for their ICT business plan 'iLMU', which won them a cash prize of $2,000.

In her opening remarks, the Chief Executive Officer of NUS enterprise, Dr Lily Chan, said the iCentre as the first ICT incubator in Brunei Darussalam will continue to help provide the necessary support toward the realisation of the many entrepreneurial dreams that our talented Bruneians have.

"iCentre strives to be the centre of excellence in developing ICT entrepreneurs and also the focal point for ICT development in Brunei Darussalam," she added.

She urged those considering the path of technology entrepreneurship to approach the iCentre for assistance in realising their dream.

Dr Chan told the participants of the competition that each and every one of them was a winner in their own right as they combined passion, opportunity, discipline, as well as the most important entrepreneurial trait, perseverance.

The competition launched in August 2008 is aimed at motivating local entrepreneurs to realise their ideas in the field of ICT, develop their business ideas and enhance their creativity. It also serves as a platform to identify, nurture and showcase the entrepreneurial talents in Brunei.

The competition also provides its participants access to global resources and the entrepreneurial process through workshops and mentoring programmes.

Thirty-nine ICT enthusiasts including seven iCentre incubatees with backgrounds ranging from online malls, schools, portal, social networking, mobile application and enterprise solutions took part in the event. - Borneo Bulletin (12th Feb 2009)