Sri Lanka must break its colonial chains of being a follower and facilitate an environment where innovation and invention can lead the economy out of ‘Third World’ status’, Senior Minister of Scientific Affairs Prof. Tissa Vitarana stated at the Ray Awards ceremony held on Wednesday.
He directed his plea to the sponsor of t he event – Commercial Banks’ CEO Ravi Dias- in hopes of increasing scope for venture capital in the Sri Lankan market. “We need to support these innovators with financial support” Prof. Tissa added.
Prof. Tissa’s comments came after the shocking revelation that only 2% of exports in Sri Lanka are ‘High Technological Products (HTPs)’. Whereas the Japanese and Korean exports represented 85% and 70% of HTPs respectively.
Referring to the Nobel laureate Robert Solow, Prof. Tissa stated how the Americans prudently invested in venture capital during post war times and consequently rose to be the largest economy in the contemporary world. Sri Lanka should follow this model by identifying and supporting innovators around the island.
It was in these lines that he was pleased with the Ray Wijewardene Charitable Trust (RWCT) in organizing ‘The Ray’ –a lifetime award given to the invention with highest perceived commercial value - while honouring the greatest innovator Sri Lanka has ever produced.
Indresri Karunathilaka won the inaugural Ray award for his Wave-less boat that has the ability to operate in inland water sources, which abides to the Environmental Authority’s soil erosion regulations.
“The winner out of the six nominees was judged on three factors that included: Inventiveness, innovation and commercial impact,” Sri Lanka Inventors’ Commission (SLIC) Chief Deepal Sooriyaarachchi said.
“With the prize money of Rs. 1 million, I hope to patent my invention while further making it ecofriendly further. I want to make the boat lighter and to operate on renewable bio-fuels. In the future, I hope to expand my water taxi service to Nagadeepa –where I have already received governmental approval- and export locally manufactured wave-less boats,” told Karunathilaka Mirror Business.
Echoing Prof. Vitarana, RWCT Chairman Prof. Malik Ranasinghe stated that “the Ray award is on the lookout for the next Ray Wijewardene.”
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