Jehan Wijesinghe, CEO & Co-Founder IgniterSpace, receives the e-Swabhimani award for Learning & Education
When software engineer Hasith Yaggahavita founded IgniterSpace, together with two colleagues, he was simply making up for the lack of a good creative education- or more specifically, ‘makerspace’- programmes to enrol his own kids in. So, in March 2016 IgniterSpace began its journey in Hasith’s home. A short two years later Hasith and his team are quietly celebrating a rapid expansion and a couple of unexpected, yet well-deserved wins at the e-Swabhimani awards 2017 and Venture Engine 2017.
IgniterSpace is a ‘makerspace’ for kids that guides them to unleash their creativity through technology. Although not a phrase used in common parlance, a makerspace is simply a place where students can gather to create, invent and tinker using tools, material and some guidance. With the firm belief that anything is possible, IgniterSpace inspires students to be creative and innovative. Children are exposed to different aspects of technology such as mechanical, electrical, electronic computer programming and robotics. With this foundation, they are then encouraged to further experiment to gain deeper insights.
The company quickly grew from being a small operation at Hasith’s home to a very popular educational institute coveted by parents who wanted their kids to have the IgniterSpace experience. Mano Sekaram, Hasith’s long-time mentor and eminent IT industry heavyweight, joined in to help IgniterSpace grow. Mano recognized that the company was doing something unusual and creative, and helped the team move into a second makerspace in Narahenpita, and then to other cities such as Moratuwa, Gampaha, Negombo and Kandy.
Dumith Fernando, Chairman Asia Securities (Pvt) Ltd., Sanchayan Chakraborty, Partner, Aavishkaar and Jeevan Gnanam, CEO Orion City, award Hasith Yaggahawita, Founder IgniterSpace and Jehan Wijesinghe, CEO & Co-Founder IgniterSpace the Venture Engine 1st runner up position.
Today the IgniterSpace team consists of 15 full time professionals and 45 part-time instructors led by CEO Jehan Wijesinghe and COO Buddika Wijesekera. Their educational model is a tried, tested and loved by kids. Students begin with prototyping known machines to develop basic knowledge as well as fine motor skills and then move onto production grade explorative creations. Through these exercises, kids gain design thinking and entrepreneurship skills alongside the ability to create production grade prototypes of their own concepts.
This is where the steps for innovation and entrepreneurship are laid, says CEO Jehan Wijesinghe. “We are committed to guiding the younger generation to become innovators and creators of technology, but we also understand that this is not a vision that is accomplished over a short span of time. We’re ready to walk the talk with our partners over decades to come.”
The team is also celebrating placing winners in the education category at the 2017 national e-Swabhimani awards presented by the Information and Communication Technology Agency (ICTA). IgniterSpace also received the Aaavishkaar Social Impact Award for the highest social impact and was the 1st runner up at Venture Engine 2017. CEO Jehan also represented Sri-Lanka at the Sankalp Global Sustainability & Social Impact Summit held in Mumbai India in December 2017. For Hasith, this is further confirmation that he was onto something when he first began IgniterSpace from his living room. “It’s rewarding to know that what you’re doing is making a real impact. We’re actually making a difference here, by teaching kids skills that they’re not picking up at school, but essential for the future.” he says.
P. Pradeep, Executive Director, Aavishkaar presents the Aaavishkaar Social Impact Award to Jehan Wijesinghe, CEO & Co-Founder IgniterSpace and Hasith Yaggahawita, Founder IgniterSpace
The classes are conducted at five levels: first 3 levels are for age based entry (ages 5-7 years, 8-10 years, 11-15 years) and prerequisite for level 4, which is focused on problem solving. Once level 4 is completed, students can enter the IgniterSpace Start-up School where they learn to become real-world innovators and entrepreneurs. The courses are usually conducted in English, although native languages are accommodated on request.
The e-Swabhimani Awards 2017 was held on 30th November at the Hotel Galadari, Grand Ballroom with much pageantry recognising the nation’s digital social innovators.
Organised by The ICT Agency of Sri Lanka (ICTA), the apex ICT Institution together with the Ministry of Telecommunications and Digital Infrastructure, the e-Swabhimani Awards 2017 honoured outstanding digital social innovators who have impacted society using digital technologies.
The colourful gala event was graced by Hon Harin Fernando, Minister of Telecommunication and Digital Infrastructure and a distinguished gathering including senior government officials, industry leaders, private sector, digital entrepreneurs and the media.
Chitranganie Mubarak, Chairperson, ICTA Sri Lanka welcomed the gathering in her opening remarks, while Hon. Harin Fernando made the keynote address.
Established as the most prestigious national event in the industry, the e-Swabhimani Awards were presented to those who made a definite high social impact, providing solutions towards the real needs of local communities using digital technologies. 43 nominees were recognized as winners, merit awardees or received certificates of appreciation. This year’s event, organised for the seventh consecutive year and it was really impressive to see that it has attracted more than 200 submissions.
‘e-Swabhimani’ a symbol of excellence but also serves as a stepping stone to the World Summit Award (WSA), a global initiative implemented within the framework of the United Nations’ World Summit on Information Society (WSIS). The award recipients were selected by the e-Swabhimani Grand Jury which comprised of eminent experts drawn from various fields. The Grand jury of e-Swabhimani 2017 selected 20 winners, 15 Merit awards and 8 Certificates of Appreciation in nine categories including Government and Citizen Engagement, Health and Well-being, Learning and Education, Environment and Green Energy, Culture and Tourism, Smart Settlement and Urbanization, Business and Commerce, Inclusion and Empowerment and Digital Entertainment. Of the 20 winners, the Jury has selected 8 winners, one per category to the World Summit Awards as ICTA is the National Expert for WSA from Sri Lanka.
Impressively the 2017 World Summit Award saw six of Sri Lanka’s eight nominations making it to the final round. Sri Lanka was second only to Germany which had seven entries. Out of the six nominations, 3 products which are chargeNET, Sciocardio and Yathra were been selected for final voting round and out of that, chargeNET from chargeNET (Pvt) Ltd which is a subsidiary of Codegen (Pvt) Ltd has become a winner under the category Smart Settlement and Urbanization.
14th November 2017: The ICT Agency of Sri Lanka (ICTA), the apex ICT Institution together with the Ministry of Telecommunications and Digital Infrastructure, announces the launch of the ‘e-Swabhimani Awards 2017’, the nation’s premier digital social impact awards honouring outstanding digital innovators who have impacted society using digital technologies.
The Awards Ceremony will be held on 30th November at Hotel Galadari, with the participation of a distinguished gathering of senior government officials, industry leaders, digital entrepreneurs and the media.
Since its launch in 2009, the ‘e-Swabhimani Awards’ have continued to recognise outstanding, forward-thinking and truly innovative local digital solutions and hi-tech applications that have helped make society more inclusive, efficient, offer new services, empower citizens, whose overall benefits are reaped by all.
Today, the e-Swabhimani Awards is established as the most prestigious national event celebrating outstanding digital solutions which has made a definite high social impact, solving the real needs of local communities. This year’s event, organised for the seventh consecutive year attracted a record number of 205 submissions and included nominations not only from established organizations but also from budding entrepreneurs, start-ups and students.
Nominations were accepted across nine categories including Government and Citizen Engagement, Health and Well-Being, Learning and Education, Environment and Green Energy, Culture and Tourism, Smart Settlement and Urbanization, Business and Commerce, Inclusion and Empowerment and Digital Entertainment.
“It’s exciting that there are so many initiatives using digital technology to bring about change, providing access to knowledge, healthcare solutions, sustainable environment and a whole gamut of services that can improve the daily lives of people. The e-Swabhimani Award offers a platform for showcasing the creativity and ingenuity of our developers using digital technology for social good,”explained Chitranganie Mubarak, Chairperson ICTA.
Not only is ‘e-Swabhimani’ a symbol of excellence but also serves as a stepping stone to the World Summit Award, a global initiative implemented within the framework of the United Nations’ World Summit on Information Society (WSIS) and regional awards such as the Manthan Awards South Asia and the mBillionth Award for mobile applications.
The procedure for selecting winners at the e-Swabhimani are also in line with the global best practices adopted by WSA. Ensuring an objective evaluation, the e-Swabhimani Grand Jury comprises eminent experts drawn from various fields who have the required knowledge and experience to apply the judging criteria across the listed categories.
Impressively the 2017 World Summit Award saw six of Sri Lanka’s eight nominations making it to the final round. Sri Lanka was second only to Germany which had seven entries.
A highlight during the event was the launch of the newly revamped e-Swabhimani Awards website, www.eswabhimani.lk. The distinct new site now features an updated logo, advanced web portal for online applications, enhanced responsive user interface which is also mobile-friendly, ability to search and view previous winners and improved photo galleries providing visitors with comprehensive and user-friendly information.
About ICTA: ICTA is the apex ICT institution of the Government of Sri Lanka and has been mandated to take all necessary measures to implement the Government's Policy and Action Plan in relation to ICT by the Information and Communication Technology Act No.27 of 2003 and Amendment Act 33 of 2008. ICTA, is a wholly owned institution by the Government of Sri Lanka overseen by Ministry of Telecommunication and Digital Infrastructure.