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Speech by Mr Richard Lewis at the i2i 2014 Launch

Posted: Thu 1 May 2014

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Thursday May 1, 2014
Luce Ultra Lounge Hilton, Trinidad
Mr. Richard Lewis
Chairman of the Council for Competitiveness and Innovation

Honourable Minister of Planning and Sustainable Development, Dr. Bhoendradatt Tewarie; Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Mrs. Arlene McComie; Deputy Permanent Secretaries in the Ministry – Mr. Clint Ramcharan and Mrs. Joanne Deoraj; Members of the Council for Competitiveness and Innovation, Executive Director of the CCI, Dr. Rikhi Permanand;  CEO and Chairman of CARIRI Mr. Liaquat Shah and Mr. Hayden Ferreira; representatives of the Evaluation and Pre-screening Committee; 2013 i2i winners; members of the Council for Competitiveness and Innovation and its Secretariat; invited guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,  members of the media. A very warm welcome to all of you, to this very important event – the launch of the 2014 idea 2 innovation (i2i) competition.

The Council for Competitiveness and Innovation (CCI) was established in January 2011 as an advisory body to the Minister of Planning and Sustainable Development. Key to its mandate among other things, was to improve the country’s competitiveness by championing the national importance and awareness of innovation and competitiveness. Towards this end, in 2012, the Council launched and managed the Idea 2 Innovation or i2i competition. The main objective of this programme was to start the process of building and promoting the importance of innovation on a national level, which in turn will result in improved competitiveness. The competition which is now in its third year gave an opportunity to potential 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.

In 2012, the i2i program received 400 applicants and 50 winners were selected and awarded grants totalling TT$4.71 million to take their ideas to proof of concept stage. Thirty-two (32) of these projects achieved proof of concept within the stipulated one year time-frame with 17 having potential for commercialization. In 2013, the competition had 471 applicants and grants of TT$5.71 million were awarded to 53 winners.

This year we are embarking on a more targeted marketing campaign in order to increase awareness and participation in the programme by budding inventors and innovators in the country. We are reaching out especially to tertiary education students in the Universities in the country. We are also paying particular attention to Tobago as well.   Ladies and gentlemen, the Government of Trinidad and Tobago has deemed the creation of innovations as a key component of increased competitiveness of the country and has put aside $10 million through the Innovation Financing Facility to develop and grow this sector. We want you to avail yourselves of the opportunities being presented to you by the Government of Trinidad and Tobago, to participate in this programme.

This year’s competition is themed “Untapped Capital” and is defined as something not yet exploited or used.  Our campaign builds on this concept by seeking to focus on the “untapped capital within oneself, available in Trinidad and Tobago, and offered through the i2i competition.” Over the next six weeks we would be rolling out a number of activities throughout the country via the media and through direct marketing, geared towards increasing participation in the competition. And for those who feel that it is about only winning money, let me inform you otherwise. This is more of a one-year mentorship programme, during which our awardees would go through a number of activities such as workshops on how to do a business plan, how to develop an action plan; and learn about financial management. These are organized jointly by the CCI and CARIRI- one of our partners in the i2i competition. Once our requirements are met, the funds will be administered accordingly by our Fund Manager NEDCO, in tranches during different stages of the programme.

Some of our past winners have made us proud in the international arena. Earlier this year, we supported Kiran Akal to launch his new blend of rum and tea called chai rum. Today Kiran has made serious inroads in the international market with his blend being poured in one of the most prestigious luxury liners in the world. We are also proud of past winner Kevin Steeple and his production of Ms. Universe dolls. So many of our winners are doing us proud and continue to reap added benefits from the i2i programme. During today’s event, we have four of our 2012 winners on hand to discuss their experiences during the competition. I encourage you to talk with them and get a first-hand account of the competition.

It would be remiss of me if I did not thank the hardworking Executive Director Dr. Rikhi Permanand  and staff of the Council for Competitiveness and Innovation for the work which  they have put into making the i2i competition the success it has been from inception to now. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Minister of Planning and Sustainable Development for his continued support of this program and our partners CARIRI and NEDCO who continue to work closely with us in executing this programme.

Please enjoy the rest of the afternoon.

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