Urban Sprout Won Top Award At The Bhutan National Techstar Start-Up Weekend 2019


The Bhutan National Techstar Start-up weekend was held from 26th - 28th April 2019.

(Source: Facebook/Department of Information Technology & Telecom, Royal Government of Bhutan)


By Phub Dem | Kuensel

Urban Sprout was recognised as the best idea for the Bhutan National Techstar Start-up weekend from 26th - 28th April 2019.

The idea behind this project which was awarded a sum of Nu 600,000 is to produce sprouts in three days using a grow monitoring device called ‘pulse’ to meet the high demand for expensive imported sprouts

The second prize of Nu 400,000 went to Dragon Treasure, an application used to access information and research papers in Dzongkha, images and videos of Bhutanese culture as well as Google speaker in Dzongkha.

Dragon Wine won the third prize of Nu 200,000 and Home tech bagged the fourth position with a sum of Nu 100,000, while iSchool won the honourable mention award.


Source: Facebook/Department of Information Technology & Telecom, Royal Government of Bhutan


Along with the cash prizes, the winning teams will be given special membership in the DHI Business Acceleration Programme.

Further support given to the start-up winners

In addition, the Department of Information Technology and Telecom (DITT) will also assist the teams in liaising with other government agencies to launch the ideas as commercial businesses. The winning teams were also given books on entrepreneurship, innovation and start-ups.

In support of entrepreneurship in Bhutan, Prime Minister Dr Lotay Tshering said that the event has changed his concept about start-ups, he also mentioned that the Government will give 100 percent support to the young start-ups.

Of the 180 ideas presented, the initial round of selection for the participants and their ideas was conducted in six colleges and the Thimphu TechPark. 28 ideas were selected and further screened to pick the top 15 finalists.

The colleges include: the Jigme Namgyel Engineering College, Sherubtse College, Gaeddu College of Business Studies, College of Language and Culture Studies, College of Science and Technology, and the College of Natural Resources.

Challenges faced in executing the start-up ideas

Of the challenges faced, the validity of the ideas and their presentation continue to remain the biggest obstacle for the start-ups.

Even though various ministries, departments, financial institutions and community volunteers have organised many start-up events, the ideas failed to be executed.


Photo: Facebook/Department of Information Technology & Telecom, Royal Government of Bhutan


Therefore, the ideas which were conceived at the start-up weekend remained just as a raw plan as no concrete action was taken after the event was over.

However, in order to nurture these ideas, attractive prizes, mentorship as well as incubation centres were provided by the organisers.

Providing the right support for the winners of the start-up events

The Founder of InnoHome, runner up of last’s year start-up weekend, Pema Singye, said that the focus should be on networking young entrepreneurs with financial support and mentors. “Rather than wasting the resources at an initial stage, the organisers should help us penetrate the market.”

Many ideas failed to take off due to a lack of financial support, moreover the organising agencies lacked coordination.

“The Start-up centre in Changzamtog takes in only the winners from the events organised by the Ministry of Economic Affairs while the Techpark takes in winners of events organised by the DITT.”

An entrepreneur said that if all the relevant stakeholders could come together, the creation of a vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystem will be beneficial for the economic growth of the nation. 

Out of about 30 winners from the start-up weekend, only two—Bundle and Miniature Bhutan (winner of 4th and 5th edition of start-up weekend)—matured into commercial businesses.     

Meanwhile, the winners of the 6th edition of the National Start-up Weekend that took place in March last year are reportedly working on their prototypes. The three winning teams are: Sungjab, InnoHome (smart switch system), and Shaa-Veggie.  


This article first appeared in Kuensel and has been edited for Daily Bhutan.


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