The Techo Startup Centre was officially launched on Monday to support young entrepreneurs and aid government plans to transform Cambodia into a digital economy.
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The centre, located inside the Royal University of Phnom Penh, one of the country’s leading higher education institutions, focuses on skills students need to succeed as tech entrepreneurs in the digital age.
The launch was presided over by Aun Pornmoniroth, Deputy Prime Minister, and Hangchuon Naron, the Minister of Education.
The centre was built with government funds and covers an area of 6,720 square metres.
According to a statement from the government, the centre’s mission is to foster the creation of new tech startups and SMEs through a clear support programme. It is in line with government plans to diversify the economy and help the country adapt to new technological trends.
Speaking at the launch, Mr Pornmoniroth said the construction of the centre was made possible by the stable political situation in the country and the rapid economic growth. He said the government is prioritising education, vocational training, and entrepreneurship.
“The two buildings of the centre will serve the priorities of the Royal Government.
“The new Techo Startup Centre is a place where students will be able to carry out internships, do research and have access to mentors. It will connect universities to the labour market and the private sector.”
Sinal Meas, co-founder of bayonia.com, a hotel booking platform for families, said the new facility will have a positive impact on the country’s startup scene.
“This centre will contribute to the development of Cambodia’s human resources. I predict that in the next three to five years we will see significant growth in the number of digital startups,” Mr Sinal said.
Last month Prime Minister Hun Sen announced the establishment of a $5 million annual fund to enhance the tech startup sector in the country.
“An entrepreneurship fund will be established with $5 million dollars a year to support startups in terms of financing, technical expertise, marketing, production, and training,” he said.
Speaking during a two-day national consultation workshop on Cambodia’s digital economy last month, Mr Pornmoniroth said digital technologies will give Cambodia the opportunity to leapfrog traditional stages of development, but it will take the country at least 10 years to complete the transition into a full-fledged digital economy.
Mr Pornmoniroth also pointed out that Cambodians are quickly familiarising themselves with new technologies, and added that to reap the most benefits out of the current digital transformation countries must have the ability to quickly adapt to change.
“For developing countries like Cambodia, new technologies provide an opportunity to leapfrog, bypassing traditional phases of development,” the minister said.
“In the context of globalisation and global integration, Cambodia certainly cannot avoid the impact of the Industrial Revolution 4.0, and that requires the government to focus on seizing opportunities as well as managing risks,” he said.