The late Prof. V. K. Samaranayake the founder of University of Colombo School of Computing (UCSC) conceptualized of having a not for profit company as a consultancy arm for UCSC. Under his stewardship, Computer servicing Centre (CSC) of University of Colombo which he was instrumental in forming flourished in the early days of Computing in Sri Lanka. When UCSC was formed by amalgamating Institute of Computer Technology (ICT) and Department of Computer Science, CSC was positioned under UCSC and Prof. Samaranayke further mooted that CSC would eventually evolved into a company following in the footsteps of similar consultancy arms of many great universities worldwide. Theekshana was one of the very first two companies which were formed in association of two major universities in Sri Lanka namely UCSC and University of Moratuwa.
How it was formed
Question of Funding
Based upon Prof. Samaranayake’s concept, Theekshana was incorporated in December 2006 with an initial funding of hundred thousand Sri Lankan Rupees from UCSC which was paid off in full two years later. This funding was used as seed money for incorporation. Although the company was formed, it was not clear as to how it could find money as capital for running the company: no money was there for hiring of a manager or staff. Although UCSC could have funded further, it was found that University act by which all universities were formed in Sri Lanka was silent as to whether companies could be formed let alone providing funding for running a company by a University.
During this critical period, Dr. Ruvan Weerasinghe, who succeeded the late Prof. Samarannayke as Director UCSC requested Mr. Harsha Wijayawardhana to be Chief Technical Officer of Theekshana in addition to his responsibilities of running Software Development Unit of UCSC. Mr. Wijayawardhana formulated a strategy where he and others worked without a pay for the formative period of Theekshana until funding was secured. The first few projects of Theekshana were brought by Mr. Wijayawardhana, Dr. Damith Karunarathne and Dr. Ruvan Weerasinghe. The first major project had been the Birth, Marriage and Death Issuance System which was won by Mr. Wijayawardhana from ICTA based upon his automation projects which were carried out for the Government of Sri Lanka.
Since Theekshana was without any funders or any capital, Mr. Wijayawardhana suggested that profits from projects to be retained in a fund which will be kept as an emergency capital fund which was later grown to ten million. Most of profits from Birth Marriage and Death Issuance system were allocated to form the emergency capital fund becoming the seed money for the above fund. For initial three year period, Mr. Wijayawardhana did not take any retainer fee as the Chief Operating Officer and Technical officer for the work done for promoting the company except for consultancy fee derived from the projects.
Highlights of Company
Several major projects were won and carried out successfully by Theekshana. Out of these projects, two projects were international projects: Introduction of eLearning to University of Royal Bhutan and running of eLearning platform for Telecentre.org. Introduction of eLearning to University of Royal Bhutan was led by Prof. K.P. Hewagamage while the second project was headed by Mr. Wijayawardhana.
Other projects which became national projects during this short period of existence of Theekshana are software for University Selection which was developed for University Grant Commission, Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS) for Sri Lanka Police, Birth Marriage Issuance System, National Higher Education Management Information System(NHEMIS), and several projects on Local language can be mentioned.