Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is to inaugurate the Sheikh Kamal IT Business Incubator, the country's first university campus-based business incubator at the Chittagong University of Engineering and Technology (Cuet), on Wednesday.
Through a video conference from Ganabhaban, she will also inaugurate Sheikh Jamal and Sheikh Rozi Jamal dormitories at the facility.
ICT Adviser to the prime minister Sajeeb Wazed Joy and State Minister for the ICT Division Zunaid Ahmed Palak will also speak at the function, Cuet Vice-Chancellor Professor Mohammad Rafiqul Alam told the media on Tuesday.
The incubator, the first of its kind in the country, will provide financial and logistical services, alongside mentorship support to potential entrepreneurs, starters and young creative university graduates.
"The IT business incubator will help us establish a good relationship between the industry and academia. It will also allow the young researchers to materialise their innovative ideas," said the vice-chancellor.
Built on 4.7 acres of land on the university campus for Tk125 crore, the facility can provide incubation or training to 250 entrepreneurs, freelancers and potential start-ups at a time.
Talking about the selection and incubation process for the potential start-ups, Professor M Moshiul Hoque, director of the incubator said there are two categories – one for existing companies and the other for students.
"For space allotments, we see profiles of existing companies and allot them space at a nominal rate of Tk10 per square metre," he added.
Digital commerce platform Chaldal and an Australian company have already received space allotments in the incubator. Some local and international companies like Huawei, Walton, LG and Butterfly are also in the process of renting space here, said Professor Moshiul.
"In addition, students from any university and entrepreneurs can submit their ideas to the incubation. We have a specialised selection board to sort out proposals from students based on their technical plans and business prospects of the ideas. If it is found viable, then they will be selected for incubation, he added.
Once selected, everyone will get financial assistance of Tk10 lakh for the implementation of their projects.
"For the next year, they will be able to use the incubator's labs, Internet, telephone, and offices for free. Besides, there are facilities to eat and stay at the dormitories as well," said the incubator director.
"A mentor will be assigned for each project, and as it develops, entrepreneurs will be provided with an opportunity to network within their chosen industries and be assisted in obtaining intellectual property," he added.
The business incubation centre project is being implemented by Cuet in collaboration with the Ministry of Posts, Telecommunications and Information Technology and under the supervision of the Bangladesh Hi-Tech Park Authority.
Basir Ahammad Mojumder, a senior engineer at the Engineers Consortium Limited, the consultant of the project, said the 10-storey egg-shaped incubation building comprising 50,000 square feet has a start-up zone, innovation zone, industry-academic zone, brainstorming zone, an exhibition centre, an e-library zone, a data centre, a research lab, a video conferencing room and a conference room.
There will also be separate corners for banks and IT firms, cyber cafes, food courts, cafeterias, recreation zones, display zones and media rooms, he added.
Elaborating on the features of the other part of the project, he said the multipurpose training building has a state-of-the-art auditorium with a capacity of 250 people and four computer/seminar rooms with a capacity of 50 people each.
Besides, there are two separate dormitory buildings – one for women and the other for men – with four floors each covering an area of 20,000 square feet. Each dormitory has 40 rooms.