The recently set-up Sri Lanka Institute of Nanotechnology (Pvt.) Ltd. (SLINTEC) has made five patent applications with the US Patent Office this year, nearly three times the country average of making 1.8 patent applications annually.
Ravi Fernando, Chief Executive Officer SLINTEC, speaking at a seminar in Colombo on Monday said that one such patent application filed was to prevent fertilizer from leeching.
He said that Sri Lanka’s annual fertilizer bill is Rs. 30 billion, of which half that amount is lost due to leeching. This particular innovation will however cause a 30-40% saving by minimizing leeching which will in turn minimize the pollution of waterways.
SLINTEC, located in the Biyagama Export Processing Zone is a public-private partnership involving Brandix, MAS Holdings, Hayleys, Loadstar and Dialog. It employs some 30 scientists in its works.
But Sri Lanka has a long way to go in investments in Science & Technology (S&T).
In comparison Korea files some 5,000 patent applications with the US Patent Office annually, Singapore (446) and India (385), said Fernando.
In the realm of exports, Korea’s high tech exports account for 75% of its total exports, Singapore and Malaysia (60%), while that of Sri Lanka’s is a mere 1.5%.
Countries which invest in innovation grows, said Fernando. Korea’s spend on S&T is 2.6% of GDP, Singapore (2.2%), while that of Sri Lanka’s is a mere 0.14%, he said.
Duminda Ariyasinghe, BoI’s Executive Director (Investment Promotion) in his speech said that one company wants to invest in the BPO sector in Jaffna, providing employment to more than 1,000.He said that in the sector wise applications processed by BoI, it was found that 60-80% sought employment in the IT sector. “Youth are not interested in manufacturing anymore,” he said. There are some 6,000 vacancies in the manufacturing sector, said Ariyasinghe.
BoI was banking on the IT & BPO sector to lead growth, similar to what the garment industry did 30 years ago. “So it’s important to develop the right curriculum in education,” said Ariyasinghe.
The seminar was organized by the American Chamber of Commerce.