Triggering an ‘innovative’ Bangladesh

If the youth of a country is the power for a better future then it’s always a prudent step to equip the young to challenge conventional boundaries to create something new.
In our society, for too long, adaptation to existing ideas and not daring to carve out a new path had been the norm. Uphold the outlook of your forbears – that has been the standard instruction.
Of course, the past will teach us a lot, but at times, the old way may need a thorough shaking up. Innovation is the future – with that message, the University of Dhaka Innovation and Incubation Lab recently had a launching in the presence of the Vice Chancellor, Dr. A A M S Arefin Siddique. The session, moderated by Md Rashedur Rahman, Director of the Lab, and also Assistant Professor of the Department of International Business, presented a thoroughly new platform to a filled gallery of students.
As Rashedur puts it: DU had always played a vital role in almost all watershed moments of Bangladesh, and, therefore, I feel it appropriate to have an open innovation lab launched here, so that this institution can play another laudable part in shaping young people with new ideas.
The word ‘new’ of course can be interpreted in several ways; this can mean something which has never been tried before or, can also point to a way of thinking that was never encouraged by so called conventional guardians of society.
‘Yes, when we say new we do not mean that old ways and approaches should be torn down unceremoniously but, of a situation in which, the tested methods can be juxtaposed with a novel way never tried before,’ observed Rashedur.
The contrast will be for all to see and help decide which to take forward.
With a business education background, he also believes that for a country like Bangladesh to attain mid income status, there needs to be a widespread entrepreneurial spirit.
“See, we now have online home delivery systems. Matchmaking websites, where the old art of bringing a girl and a boy for marriage amidst the awkward presence of guardians has been given an innovative touch, dispense with a lot of stress, leading to an online ice melting of ice; this saves time plus the unnecessary unease of two unknown people seeing each other for the first time.”
Ideas are worth millions, enthuses the DU teacher, adding that many revolutionary concepts fizzle out because they do not get the right platform for exposure.
The innovation center will also provide a chance for young business people, researchers and social experts to come together to have their thoughts discussed and dissected.
This is indeed a value adding move for the University of Dhaka, which has always been intertwined with the evolution of this society.
“The DU i-Lab will address issues and opportunities relating to economic growth and employment generation, environmental challenges and various social challenges e.g. improving the health care services, providing access to education for all and ensuring good governance etc. that Bangladesh will face towards its journey of becoming a developed nation,” remarked the Vice Chancellor.
So what do the students present think about this initiative?
Personally speaking, this lab will bring two benefits: first, it will make the university a center for creative ideas, which is important for any academic institute to compete in the current age of globalisation and secondly, students like us, who have concepts but are bashful, can come forward and share them, remarked Sajib, a third year business student.
The word avant-garde is not widely used in our society simply because people using it tend to give it a subtle hint of negativity, observed, Shirin, another student, and added, “but this word also carries the thrill of challenge in paving the way for something totally sensational.” She further lamented the lack of inspiration in our wider social sphere towards doing something innovative. To make innovation an integral part of education the lab will feature annual innovation festival, monthly workshops, awareness events and in the long term, a national innovation award.