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Brief Remarks by Mr Richard Lewis at the i2i Awards Ceremony 2013

Posted: Tue 1 Oct 2013

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Brief Remarks by Mr Richard Lewis Chairman of the Council for Competitiveness and Innovation at the  i2i Awards function, Hyatt Hotel, Port of Spain, on 1st October, 2013

Speech By Richard Lewis for AwardsHonourable Minister of Planning and Sustainable Development, Dr. Bhoendradatt Tewarie; Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Mrs. Arlene Mc Comie; Chairman of the Economic Development Board, Mr. Richard Young;  Chairman of CARIRI and i2i evaluation panels, Mr Hayden Ferreira; members of the Boards of CCI and the EDB; winners of the i2i competition; specially invited guests, members of the media; ladies and gentleman.

I am tremendously pleased to sit before so many aspiring innovators in the country. I especially congratulate the 53 winners each of whom have won an opportunity over the course of the year, to bring their ideas to life. I encourage you to make the most of this experience, and to continue creating and innovating. We at the Council are giving you a head start but the journey and the final destination is all up to you. There are going to be many challenges along the way, steady the course and you will eventually achieve success.

But I want to also commend all the participants in this competition.  471 participants comprising individuals, groups and companies took the time to be part of this competition. I encourage you all not to give up, use the experience over the year to build on your current ideas and pursue other avenues existing in the market to actualize your dreams.

As Chairman of the Council I am happy that the i2i competition is well on its way to   achieving its goal of creating an innovative sector which in the future, I hope can ultimately provide us with the cutting edge that we need to become a competitive country.

As you know from the Global Competitiveness Report which was released a couple of weeks ago, although we have moved from being a transitioning economy to an innovative country, we are down by eight points  moving to 92 out of 148 countries, in terms of our global competitiveness ranking. We need to arrest this downward slide by encouraging young innovators like yourself, to continue to use your creativity to develop new ideas and products which will allow us to be on top of our game. Next year we would be assiduously working towards improving our ranking in the GCR.

But more importantly, if we were to continue with the i2i competition, by 2015 we would have stimulated over 1600 winners who will be moving towards  developing new creations and innovations in the country. Further, we would be accelerating the growth in the innovative sector. Think of the infinite possibilities of this sector in another ten years and the benefits to Trinidad and Tobago’s economy.

The i2i competition is only one means of stimulating innovation in the country. Here at the Council, we are also involved in other activities. In mid November we have dedicated an entire week of activities to inform and educate the national public about how to become innovative.  In this regard, we will be hosting an innovations conference at the Hyatt Hotel, in which we hope to engage the minds of the citizenry at large, to think creatively while discussing innovation at policy level. This is in keeping with our mandate to act as an advisor to the Minister of Planning and Sustainable Development, the Honourable Dr. Bhoendradatt Tewarie, in building competitiveness and innovation through the creation of a National Innovations Policy. And because we fully understand that creativity starts at an early age, we will be embarking on a school’s innovation road-show throughout Trinidad and Tobago, also in mid November,   in which we hope to stimulate the minds of our secondary school students through experiential learning of innovations outside the classrooms.

But as Chairman of the CCI, we have been involved in other activities around innovation. Ladies and gentlemen, we cannot innovate in this era without having a full comprehension of the linkages between innovation and information and communication technologies or ICTs. We are living in information driven world spurred by the strides made in digital technology through the World Wide Web. In this regard, the CCI partnered with Caribbean Ideas Limited, in 2012 to promote the importance of digital technology to improving competitiveness and innovation in the country.  This event also gave some of our budding entrepreneurs an opportunity, to showcase their innovations to the mobile community.  Over the next year we will continue to find innovative means to create awareness around the use of ICTs especially in regard to innovation and competitiveness.

And because we understand the importance of marketing in the value chain as we move towards becoming a competitive country, the CCI is involved in an exercise to  have a deeper appreciation of  the needs of the non-energy sector and  has completed four reports to improve exports as follow:  Review of Trinidad and Tobago’s Trade Performance 2004-2011; Reducing the Supply Side Constraints in the Non-Energy Sector; Assisting Exporters in meeting International Standards; and Assisting Exporters in International Marketing and Promotion. These reports were shared with the relevant Ministry and Agencies for execution.

I wish to thank the Secretariat of the Council for managing and executing yet another successful i2i competition. I know that although their resources are limited, their capacity for work par excellence is tremendous. I myself have been suitably impressed by the young bright minds of our young returning scholars who work there. I also commend the Executive Director for his sterling contribution and for harnessing the skills of this young group.

In closing, I wish to wish to thank the Honourable Minister of Planning and Sustainable Development, Dr. Bhoe Tewarie in allowing me the opportunity to serve as Chairman of the Council for the next two years. I am ably supported by members from both the private and public sectors. They are Francis Lewis, Nicholas Galt, Cheva Alexander, Dinesh Ragoo, Beena Poliah, and Chris Hosein. We assure you of our commitment and dedication to the development of the country through our active participation on the Council.

Once again my heartiest congratulations to the 2013 i2i winners.

Thank you and do enjoy the rest of the function.

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