John Keells X Open Innovation Challenge | Sunday Observer

John Keells X Open Innovation Challenge

 Growth Hacker and Lead Speaker at Growth Tribe Academy Luke Montgomery advising workshop participants.
Growth Hacker and Lead Speaker at Growth Tribe Academy Luke Montgomery advising workshop participants.

John Keells Holdings has called for entries for the third edition of its start-up Accelerator Program, the John Keells X Open Innovation Challenge 2018/19, where teams of local innovators and entrepreneurs will compete for the chance to win entry into JKH’s impressive Accelerator Program.

This prize will offer winners Rs. 2.5 million in seed investment, a specially curated growth-oriented curriculum, delivered by leading international trainers, free office space in Colombo, access to the best legal, finance and secretarial expertise, as well as to mentors involving senior JKH leadership, active interaction with JKH businesses, as well as the possibility of further investment during or after the six-month Accelerator Program.

“We want to create successful long term business partnerships” said JKH Deputy Chairman, Krishan Balendra.

“The interaction with John Keells X and its participants does not end with the Accelerator Program. The relationships built with JKH will assist individuals and teams navigate the tough path of a start-up, armed with greater confidence and skills acquired through the John Keells X experience,” he said.

Initiated in 2016, to encourage and aid local creative and intellectual talent through a public competitive format, John Keells X has since evolved into a fully-fledged Accelerator Program since last year.

The objective is to not just support, but to invest in the futures of prospective talent by holistically educating participants on key factors and know-how that will enhance business performance.

This also includes an entrepreneurship curriculum and growth hacking curriculum delivered by leading international trainers with extensive start-up experience. Participants will receive mentorship from some of the most respected entrepreneurs and business magnates in the country. Entries are now open for the newly revamped John Keells X Open Innovation Challenge 3.0.

Applications will be accepted until February 6, 2019, and can be submitted via the John Keells X official website:

JKH has scheduled a series of road shows and meet ups to provide more direction to potential applicants.

Teams competing in the 2018/19 edition of the John Keells X Open Innovation Challenge will be judged on their ability to exhibit uniquely innovative ideas that hold the potential to either complement or disrupt the core sectors that John Keells Holdings PLC is engaged in, such that growth of their early stage businesses can be accelerated by aligning with any JKH business unit or industry.

Following a shortlisting process, up to 30 candidates will be chosen to go on to a ‘Demo Day’ where they will pitch their concepts to an eminent panel of judges.

The panel of judges will comprise Deputy Chairman, JKH, Krishan Balendra, Group Finance Director, JKH, Gihan Cooray, Executive Vice President and Chief Information Officer, JKH, Ramesh Shanmuganathan, Founder and CEO, Bluestone Capital, Ajit Gunewardene and Executive Chairman, Asia Securities Holdings and Dumith Fernando.

Up to seven of the best teams from Demo Day will secure seed funding of Rs. 2.5mn each and participate in a six-month accelerator program from June through to December 2019.

Through this much sought-after program, JKH will offer these teams access to JKH customers and channels, and access to senior leadership level mentors at JKH along with opportunities for further investment in the selected winning entities during or after the Accelerator Program.

The ultimate objective of the program is to provide support in achieving desirable business outcomes within the shortest time frame possible.