Construction work of first private hi-tech park begins
The construction of the Korean EPZ Hi-Tech Park in Anwara upazila of Chattogram began yesterday as its owner looks to set up Bangladesh's first private enclave for information technology firms and startups.
The ground-breaking ceremony was virtually attended by Zunaid Ahmed Palak, state minister for ICT, and LEE Jang-keun, ambassador of the Republic of Korea to Bangladesh, with the physical presence of Kihak Sung, chairman & CEO of Youngone Corp and the KEPZ, according to a press release.
The park is located on an area of about 100 acres in the Korean Export Processing Zone (KEPZ), which is also the country's first private EPZ.
In February, a tripartite agreement was signed between the Bangladesh Hi-Tech Park Authority, the KEPZ and Startup Bangladesh to develop a hi-tech industry and innovation ecosystem.
The park will have a 41-storied IT building, which will house several software development facilities. This will create jobs for up to 20,000 people when fully implemented, said the statement of the KEPZ Bangladesh.
The park will also have universities and schools and a community complex with service apartment.
Youngone Corporation is setting up its first IT-related infrastructure for its sister concern Tekvision (BD) Ltd in the park.
This company will develop all kinds of software, industrial digitalisation, data entry and outsourcing with an estimated investment worth $200 million successively.
"This should attract startup companies who can explore their venture out of an economic premise," the press release said.
Startup boot camps and accelerator programme will be organised to support strengthening of the start-up ecosystem and through upskilling entrepreneurs in Bangladesh.
Speaking at the event, Palak said: "Korean EPZ Hi-Tech Park would play an important role in the development and growth of Bangladesh's information technology sector."
"It would make a significant contribution to the economy."
The state minister said once the project is implemented, the port city will grow into a modern IT business hub.
LEE Jang-keun said Korea would open a new chapter of the business relations with Bangladesh by taking off their previous traditional corporations and moving into a new corporation focusing on hi-tech park and ICT.
Kihak Sung said while Youngone Corp was investing massively in man-made fibre project to supply to the country's garment sector, it was ready to make a significant contribution to ICT industries and startup ventures by providing infrastructure and investment.
"Especially, we will be seeking Korean help in this respect."
Korea is one of the successful ICT nations. Its IT sector accounts for 12 per cent of GDP and 36 per cent of the export amount, he said.
Jimmy Kim, co-founder and partner at SparkLabs Global Ventures, a venture capital fund based in California, described the future of the zone as promising.
Its facilities would support the startup ecosystem of Bangladesh by connecting foreign investors with local startups and developing incubation centres and accelerators, he said.
KEPZ was inaugurated in October 1999 under the agreement of Bangladesh and Youngone of South Korea.
Youngone started the development of the EPZ in 2009, and it now hosts more than 32 factories, employing around 25,000 local workers.
Tina Jabeen, managing director of Startup Bangladesh, and Md Shahjahan, managing director of the KEPZ, also spoke.