The Colombo Conference by SECRA & FOUNTAIN Projects – University of Peradeniya

The Colombo Conference (University-Industry Collaboration for Sustainable Development), supported by the SECRA and FOUNTAIN Projects, led by the University of Peradeniya, in collaboration with the University of Ruhuna, University of Sri Jayewardenepura, Sabaragamuwa University of Sri Lanka and the Rajarata University of Sri Lanka was held from 15th March – 17th March 2024 in Colombo. The Mid Sweden University – Sweden, the University of Huddersfield and University of Central Lancashire – UK, Tallinn University – Estonia, Naresuan University, Chieng Mai University and Mahasarakham University – Thailand, Ateneo de Manila University, Philippine Normal University and Malayan College Laguna – the Philippines were the other main partner universities that attended this event. The opening ceremony was held on 15th March 2024 at the BMICH, Colombo and the sessions were held on 16th and 17th March 2024 at the gapHQ, Colombo. Prof. MD Lamawansa, the Vice Chancellor of the University of Peradeniya was the chief guest and Prof. Dilanthi Amarathunga from the University of Huddersfield – UK was the guest of honour for the opening ceremony. Dr. Ravi Liyanage, the co-founder and present Chairman/CEO of the Raigam group and Prof. Evangelia Petridou, Mid Sweden University were the keynote speakers.

The policy dialogue organised by the University of Sri Jayewardenepura, with the participation of Prof. Ananda Jayawardane (the University of Moratuwa and Commission member, University Grants Commission), Prof. H.D. Karunaratne (the Vice Chancellor, the University of Colombo), Mr. Duminda Hulangamuwa (Chairman, Ceylon Chamber of Commerce) and Mr. Keerthi Gunawardane (President, Federation of Chamber of Commerce) as the panellists, was one of the key events conducted on 16th March 2024, where the policy brief on University – Enterprise Collaboration for Economic Recovery and Resilience in Sri Lanka drafted under SECRA Project was discussed. The panel discussion was moderated by Prof. Upuli Perera and coordinated by Prof. Lasith Gunawardena, the University of Sri Jayewardenepura.

The International Pitching Competition to motivate and support young entrepreneurs (University graduates, undergraduates) organised by the University of Peradeniya, coordinated by Prof. Darshana Yapa, Director, BLII-TTO, was held on 17th March 2024. Out of 26 applications, 15 were selected by a panel of experts and those 15 presented their innovations/ business ideas and products. Mr. Chandula Abeywickrema, the Founder and Chairman of the Lanka Impact Investing Network (Private) Ltd (LIIN), Mr. Dhammika Marasinghe, Computer Engineer and Associate Technical Lead at Maturify, Prof. Evangelia Petridou and Prof. Jorgen Sparf, the Mid Sweden University, Prof. Champika Liyanage, the University of Central Lancashire – UK, Prof. Guttila Jayasinghe and Prof. (Emeritus) N. Weerasinghe, the University of Ruhuna were among the panel of evaluators.

The Colombo Conference was chaired by Prof. Ranjith Dissanayake, Department of Civil Engineering, University of Peradeniya with several co-chairs. Prof. Chaminda S. Bandara (Department of Civil Engineering) and Ms. Sadeesha Senanayake (Research Assistant, SECRA & FOUNTAIN Projects) and Mr. Lahiru Dissanayake (former Research Assistant) were the coordinators of the event from the University of Peradeniya.  

The leading universities of SECRA and FOUNTAIN projects are the Mid Sweden University, Sweden (Project Lead: Prof. Jorgen Sparf) and the University of Ruhuna, Sri Lanka (Prof. Guttila Jayasinghe). Both these projects are co-funded by the Erasmus+ Programme of the European Union.