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Speech by Dr. Rikhi Permanand, Executive Director, EDB and the CCI

Posted: Wed 29 May 2013

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Honourable Minister of Planning and Sustainable Development, Dr. Tewarie, other Honourable Ministers, Permanent Secretaries, Deputy Permanent Secretaries, i2i 2012 winners, other distinguished guests, members of the media, ladies and gentlemen: a very warm welcome to the idea 2 innovation (i2i) 2013 launch.

Speech by Dr. Rikhi PermanandIn 2012, the Ministry of Planning and Sustainable Development, through its Council for Competitiveness and Innovation (CCI) launched and managed the i2i competition. The purpose of this programme is to start the process of building and promoting the importance of innovation on a national level, which in turn will result in improved competitiveness. i2i 2012  gave an opportunity to innovators and inventors to submit proposals for innovative  and creative  ideas and  if selected, they would receive grants between $75,000 to $200,000 to take their idea to proof of concept in one year or less. To qualify, projects were required to meet the criteria of:

  • The invention of a new product or service;
  • The improvement of a new product or service;
  • A new process of adding value to a Trinidad and Tobago-sourced raw material;
  • The products, services or processes should be able to find a market or use in local or export market;
  • Project impact, driving social benefit and creation of sustainable, high quality jobs- targeting critical areas of national recovery (renewable energy, health & wellness, food security, creative industries).

Prospective participants/innovators were invited to submit inventions and creative initiatives in the following activity areas, including, but not limited to:

  • Manufacturing and manufacturing related
  • Services
  • Primary agriculture, bio-technology
  • Creative industries
  • Information and Communication Technology (ICT)
  • Alternative/remedial energy and energy efficiency
  • Agro-industrial processing
  • Environment (clean technologies, eco-related activities)
  • Bio-waste and other waste (including recycling activities)
  • Tourism

Speech by Dr. Rikhi Permanand2Approximately 400 submissions were received over an 8-week application period and grants totalling $4.7 million were awarded to 50 projects submitted by a variety of individuals, teams and companies. Ten grants were awarded to companies, 17 to project teams and 23 to individuals. The beneficiaries of the i2i 2012 competition are now actively implementing their projects with the aid of CARIRI, which serves in the role of Technical Executing Agency to undertake ongoing technical, project monitoring and evaluation. Our other partner, NEDCO, operates in the capacity of managing the i2i fund. The CCI retains the overall responsibility for the programme.

The overall progress of the programme at the end of April – 7 months into the execution phase –stands at 45%, measured according to specific milestones set and agreed upon between CARIRI and each of the beneficiaries according to the particular needs of each project. Many beneficiaries are planning completion of their projects before the end of September, 2013.

Hopefully, you would have had the chance to see and hear on the screens in the venue from some of our i2i 2012 winners, who discussed not just the progress of their projects but the value of the process through the help they have received: financially, technically and  in general support. Those featured were Karisa Phillip (Creative Industries – Animation), Christian Young Sing (Food Sustainability – Hydroponics), Jomo Wahtuse (Manufacturing – Exercise Bike Mower), Cara Singh (ICT – Mobile App) and Wesley Gervais (ICT – Mobile App – Online Market Place).

Another example of a 2012 beneficiary who is progressing well is Steven Edwards, who, in March this year, launched his award-winning programmes, Transformation through Theatre and Technology – Life in Laventille. The latter programme assists troubled youths to find their inner genius and helps to turn their lives around. It utilizes the glamour of the entertainment industry, coupled with the intrigue of new ICT to engage participants on a journey to continuously and relentlessly pursue their goals. At the launch, parents gave testimonies on the success of Steven’s programme. A documentary on the programme is being produced to highlight the plight of some Laventille residents and there are suggestions on how the problem of crime and violence can be solved.

In April 2013, Wesley Gervais was a finalist and subsequent winner in the Best Economic Entrepreneur award category of the Caribbean Innovation Challenge (CIC) which was held in Barbados and was hosted by the Youth Americas Business Trust (YABT) and the UNDP. Of the six winners in the various categories of the CIC finals, two were from Trinidad. Wesley further developed his online outsourcing market place idea and entered the Caribbean Innovation Challenge. As a result of winning the CIC, he was made a finalist of the TIC Americas and will be required to travel to Guatemala in June 2013 to compete at the hemispheric level.

Kevin Steeple, creator of Glitz Glamour and Goodwill, creates hand-made dolls, promotes his products and is building markets both locally and internationally. Kevin has designed dolls for Queen Elizabeth, First Lady Michelle Obama and the Miss Universe and Miss USA 2012 winners. Kevin has worked alongside American business magnate, Donald Trump, and is now partnering with the Miss High School America and Miss Collegiate America Pageant. Kevin will custom design a doll for the 2012 High School America and Collegiate America winners and he will be showcasing many of the dolls he has designed at the aforementioned Pageant’s trade show at Walt Disney’s Swan & Dolphin resort in Florida in July 2013.

This past week, Kevin, along with other 2012 i2i beneficiaries, has attended the Exhibit at the Lok Jack GSB BUSINESS SHOWCASE in collaboration with the Ministry of Labour and Small and Micro Enterprise Development and the National Integrated Business Incubator System (IBIS) to showcase their projects.

These are just some of the success stories coming from the 50 projects in i2i 2012.

The CCI has also been promoting innovation and competitiveness through the sponsorship of two digital technology events hosted by Caribbean Ideas: Mobiworld in November 2012 and Caribbean Digital Expo (CDX 2.0) in March 2013. Both events were aimed at regional marketers, entrepreneurs and private and public sector business leaders who wanted to learn how to better harness the power of digital technology for their brands and businesses.

As we turn our attention to i2i 2013, we intend to retain the same great values as the 2012 programme, albeit with a new focus. This year, while the process remains the same, we are shifting the focus from the idea itself, to all the elements which are essential to the process of its implementation. Thus, the i2i competition has been re-branded as a “Toolkit for Success”, which can provide aspiring entrepreneurs with the real tools to bring their business ideas to life; with specific tools designed to fit the majority of projects, such as learning to write a business plan, providing workshops and presentations; financial grants, and also opportunities to meet with key persons in relevant industries, as demonstrated tonight at our speed networking session.

The i2i 2013 series of events will include new elements such as the speed networking, Pecha Kuchas – which is a presentation methodology in which 20 slides are shown for 20 seconds each (six minutes and 40 seconds in total). The format, which keeps presentations concise and fast-paced, powers multiple-speaker events called Pecha Kucha Nights – to be held in two locations in Trinidad and one in Tobago and also Webinars to be hosted live online.

In closing, we would like to wish our i2i winners every success in the development of their projects and for i2i 2013 we are expecting an even better entry response to this year’s competition and looking forward to another tranche of great ideas that can be developed for application.

Thank you

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