iCentre welcomes royal visitor
By Narissa Noor

Her Royal Highness Paduka Seri Pengiran Anak Isteri Pengiran Anak Sarah ibni Pengiran Salleh Ab Rahaman was among the 15 undergraduates from Universiti Brunei Darussalam's Faculty of Business, Economics and Policy Studies who made an educational visit to the iCentre yesterday afternoon.

The visit exposed the students to the initiatives made by the iCentre in promoting the ICT innovation, particularly with the products of the local incubates and technoprenuers.

Vincent Cheong, CEO of the Brunei Economic Development Board, who was also present yesterday, gave the students the opportunity to discuss various issues pertaining to the realisation of the e-government, e-business and Brunei's Information Society.

The iCentre is a national project spearheaded by the BEDB in March 2008 and focuses on developing local SMEs in the field of information and communications technology.

"The BEDB believes that ICT is a key enabler that cuts across all businesses and industries that we are promoting. Given our geographical location as well as our cost competitive infrastructure and utilities, Brunei can play a leading role as an ICT hub for the BIMP-EAGA region," said Vincent Cheong in his welcoming remarks.

Prior to its establishment, the iCentre was one of Brunei's under-utilised properties which the BEDB refurbished at a cost of over $1 million. It currently houses 13 physical and four virtual incubates including a very popular café.

"The iCentre reflects BEDB's commitment to local business development and nurturing entrepreneurship in Brunei," he said, having successfully engaged strategic and commercial partners like TelBru and G4S in collaborating with iCentre incubates to testbed their products with the intent to launch domestically and internationally.

Other recent BEDB initiatives included its tender for a Buy Brunei portal to allow start-ups with little or no track record to design, operate and maintain an e-Business portal to support online B2B and B2C transactions.

"This Buy Brunei portal will not only help to upgrade the capabilities of our local start-ups but also provide a new marketing and information channel for our local businesses," said Cheong.

"BEDB has also recognised financing for start-ups as one of the gaps," he added, revealing that $5 million has been set aside for investment in Accel-X, a venture capital fund targeting early stage start-up companies.

"This $5 million will be wholly invested in Brunei or Brunei-based companies and we should be expecting its first investment into one of our local companies soon," Cheong stated.

During a tour of the centre's facilities, Her Royal Highness and her course mates met several of the incubates including Expansys Technologies, Cyberunai services, Infindo technology, Rafiqun WDSI Sdn Bhd, John Harith Computer, and several others. - Borneo Bulletin (21st October 2009)