Nurture tech companies to build Smart Bangladesh

May 22, 2024

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Skill development, research and investment are crucial to facing the challenges of AI (Artificial Intelligence) and transforming them into opportunities, young tech entrepreneurs said yesterday.

As AI is going to bring a transformative impact on their businesses, the entrepreneurs said staying abreast of rapid AI advancements is also necessary.

IT firms must invest substantially in AI technology, infrastructure, research and development, and skill enhancement to maintain a competitive edge and foster innovation, they added.

They were speaking at the “Youth Tech Summit” with the theme “Are you ready for AI”, jointly organised by 14 non-profit organisations in the technology sector.

They also called for government support to transform those challenges into opportunities.

More than 2,000 people, including young tech entrepreneurs, professionals, business leaders, and students participated in the event at the Krishibid Institution in Dhaka.

There were 40 speakers, including 20 tech founders, who are working in different fields such as agriculture technology, educational technology, healthcare technology, outsourcing, and product development.

The young founders argued that tax incentives are vital for enabling tech companies to allocate enough resources towards AI research and development and workforce development.

They warned that imposing taxes could hinder these critical investments, potentially stalling the industry’s progress and innovation.

Proactive adaptation to AI is not just beneficial but necessary, and supportive policies are key to ensuring that businesses can thrive in this rapidly evolving landscape, they said.

Sayem Faruk, founder of Airwrk, said AI will revolutionise human civilisation in the next few years.

“Jobs will be lost while countless new jobs will be created and supported. As a nation whose only true resources are human resources, it is imperative that we nurture the fledgling companies spearheading this massive change.”

“Instead of clipping their wings by imposing taxes, policymakers should nurture them till they take off and soar. Only then can we create a true Smart Bangladesh.”

Shahir Chowdhury, founder and CEO of Shikho, said the advancement in AI has huge implications for education technology companies like his.

“In the next three to five years, EdTech will have even more powerful use cases, empowering both teachers and students. AI technology can potentially allow personalised tutoring for every student at a very large scale.”

Ahsan Khan Chowdhury, chairman of PRAN-RFL Group, said he is excited about the energy and talent of young technology entrepreneurs.

Fahim Mashroor, CEO of bdjobs, urged Chowdhury to invest in startups founded by youths in Bangladesh.

In reply, he said, “if your idea is good and honest, we [PRAN-RFL] will be with you with investment. And we will be encouraged to work on the success of your companies.”

Mashroor also said this is the first time that so many young successful tech founders have gathered under a single platform to talk about technological trends and disruptions.

“It is high time the government and policymakers listened to the concerns of young founders. There is a shortage of skilled human resources to keep pace with technological advancement, particularly in AI.”

Shameem Ahsan, chairman of the Venture Capital and Private Equity Association of Bangladesh, said the country does not necessarily need to develop AI models.

“There are plenty of AI models that have been developed around the world and many of them are free. We should use them to create use cases and solve problems.”

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