Yangon Govt to Sign Deal with Swiss Company for Youth Innovation Hub

By Nan Lwin 28 September 2018

YANGON — The Yangon regional government is to sign with a Swiss-based company to implement Yangon Innovation Center (YIC), a project that aims to be an innovation and entrepreneurship hub for youth.

Yangon Region’s Kayin Ethnic Affairs Minister, Naw Pan Thinzar Myo, one of the government representatives involved in negotiations on the project, said in Parliament on Friday that YIC will target the young people of the city in creating a platform for innovation, nurturing start-ups, emerging entrepreneurship and creating networks between local and international startups.

The government invited tender for the project in January, receiving six bids. The company selected was Swiss-based Seedstars, a company which has experience in entrepreneurship and international startups in 85 countries around the world, she said.

Naw Pan Thinzar Myo said, “We already prepared the contract. We also sent a draft of the contract to the Union Attorney General for his legal advice. We will sign very soon.”

Yangon Innovation Center will be implemented at Nanthidar Jetty on Strand Road on the banks of the Hlaing River, also known as Rangoon River, in downtown Yangon. The construction is estimated to measure more than 930 square meters (10,000 square feet).

Naw Pan Thinzar Myo explained that the company will transform the compound of the building into an IT-accessible place for young people by upgrading both the inside and outside spaces.

The Yangon government revealed in 2016 a plan to establish a public waterfront downtown on the banks of the Hlaing River. The area currently has limited public access due to the large number of walled-in compounds of warehouses, jetties and ports scattered along the banks. In April 2017, the government announced its plan to implement the YIC project and began looking for a suitable operator.

According to the draft contract agreement, an initial sum of $200,000 will be used to upgrade the site. The total budget for the five-year project is expected to be $1.1 million.

“We agreed that the company will hold an entrepreneurial program called Seedstars Academy for youth twice a year. The company will have to invite other external investors for the project as well,” Naw Pan Thinzar Myo said.

According to the agreement with the government, she said, the company will have to persuade about 50 Myanmar startup companies to invest in YIC.

The Yangon regional government has said that, as there are more than 10 universities in Yangon which collectively produce thousands of graduates every year, the YIC is expected to be a main source of job opportunities, support youth innovations and access to IT companies.