Dhaka, December 3, 2017: In the second season of ‘Rise High Bangladesh’ a joint initiative of M. I. Cement Factory Ltd. (Crown Cement) and the English news daily The Daily Star for export idea generation, Dhaka University’s team Sept of Baelor became the champion. The team secured the top place by presenting an innovative idea of producing an organic polymer derived from shells of shrimps for use in biodegradable plastics, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, food products and water purification.

Team Third Dimension of the Bangladesh University of Professionals (BUP) became the runner up, while Green Bees, a team from the University of Rajshahi, came third. The runner up team came with an idea of developing a source of natural protein for animals using black soldier flies and waste, which can be turned into marketable protein products as animal feed.

The third team’s idea was producing fine quality yarn from pineapple leaf fiber to produce an anti-allergic garment which has high demand in the western world.The objective of Rise High Bangladesh is to inspire the youth of Bangladesh to come up with export ideas and convert them into feasible business products and services.

The champions won the chance to visit different industries in Malaysia for developing their ideas; the runner up team received a cheque of Tk1 lakh while the second runner up received a cheque of Tk50,000. All three teams were also awarded crests.

The jury panel selected the winners after each of the three teams presented their business ideas at the final event.

Planning Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal, handed over the crest and cheques to the winners at an event held at the International Convention City, Bashundhara in Dhaka on Saturday. Imran Rahman, dean of the School of Business at the University of Liberal Arts, Syed Nasim Manzur, former president of the Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce and Industry and managing director of Apex Footwear and Bitopi Das Chowdhury, head of corporate affairs of Standard Chartered Bangladesh made up the jury panel.

In the process of selecting the champion, this year three members of the jury panel scrutinized and selected the three of the best from more than 230 business ideas submitted online from 40 private and public universities. In the welcome speech, Jahangir Alam, Chairman of Crown Cement, said the company started its journey in 1995 and this is the first company which exported cement products from the country in 2003.

The three times national export winner in cement category, has been producing 600 tons of cement a day while it has the capacity to churn out 11,000 tons a day, Alam said. The company employs 5,000 workers and initiated the Rise High Bangladesh in 2016, aiming to create fresh entrepreneurs by harnessing their talents, he said.

In his inspirational speech, Kamal assured all the three teams of help from his side for flourishing their business ideas if they were deemed feasible.

“When you have a dream in front of you, you will succeed. The dreams never die,” Kamal said while delivering his speech in front of the young, talented students who hoped to become businessmen through implementing the ideas presented in the competition.

“In our university life, the teachers taught us that, land, labor, capital and organizations are needed to be a successful businessman. But now this perception of business has changed,” Kamal said.

“Now, you need an idea, as many people are waiting to invest in your ideas for making the business successful,” Kamal said. “Dream has no death, but you have to wake it up through your efforts,” the minister said.

Marcia Stephens Bloom Bernicat, the US ambassador in Bangladesh, said that her country believes in entrepreneurship. The US sponsored this year’s global entrepreneurship summit held at Hyderabad of India in September this year, Bernicat said.

Entrepreneurs are the key for unlocking potential, she said, adding sometimes women and youth entrepreneurs have to cross extra hurdles as they do not get the financial support from the banking system. However, employment of youth and women will help resolve more challenges, she observed.

Editor and Publisher of The Daily Star, Mahfuz Anam, complimented Crown Cement, who partnered with The Daily Star in this exciting project of encouraging university students generate new innovative export ideas.

“However individually successful we become, the ultimate success is when the country succeeds as a whole,” Anam said, in his opening remarks at the event finale.

Saying that Bangladesh is heading towards becoming a successful country, Anam said Bangladesh is a glittering example in this regard as the whole world is looking at the country’s triumphs.

“The whole world is questioning how Bangladesh is achieving success, how Bangladesh is heading towards development. We will move towards sustainable development if we can take forward this trend.”

Anam also said still there are many challenges in front of us. But the fact is that now we know how to successfully overcome the challenges.

“The most important message is that we are heading towards a self-reliant country through solving our problems,” he said, adding, “We will realize this message. We will bear the message in our heart and will strengthen our confidence.”

In the second season, the initiative also recognized three amazing Bangladeshis who have contributed in uplifting the country’s image. They are Shafqat Islam, Iraj Islam and Asif Rahman, the co-founders of NewsCred.

NewsCred started as an online news portal, conceptualised together by three young Bangladeshis– Iraj Islam, Shafqat Islam, and Asif Rahman. Today, it is the world’s leading content marketing and syndication platform.

Since its founding in 2008, NewsCred has grown to a 75+ person team of technologists, journalists and creative content marketers based in New York, London and Dhaka. The company is funded by leading investors including FirstMark Capital, FLOODGATE and IA Ventures.