Why i2i in T&T?
As part of a vision for the development of a knowledge-based society, i2i’s original purpose was to provide financial support for enterprises and initiatives that will contribute measurably to the sustainable development of Trinidad and Tobago. This is done through the Innovation Financing Facility (IFF), a facility set up to guide and govern how funding is to be disbursed. The programme has since been expanded to include other forms of support that will best help persons in moving their ideas to the proof of concept stage.
The overall purpose of the programme is to foster the testing and implementation of concepts that will prove catalytic to the delivery of new products and services in the society. It has been created to increase the availability of risk capital (pre-commercialisation funding) for early-stage and potential high-growth companies. It is an initiative to support vibrant and innovative individuals and companies who meet established criteria related to the definition of innovation and prudent investment guidelines.
Journey of the person
In a nutshell, i2i seeks to encourage persons to become innovators. In light of the model below, this may or may not involve an inventive step. Participants in the i2i programme need only prove that some product/process has the potential to create value in some demonstrable way. This demonstration of the concept can then be taken forward post-i2i either by the participants themselves through some entrepreneurial activity, or by someone else where the innovation is passed on through some appropriate mechanism (licensing, partnership, sale etc.)
Someone who comes up with a novel process or product.
Someone who is able to rethink an old process/product or apply an entirely new process/product in some way to create value.
As it relates to innovation, an entrepreneur is someone who recognises the opportunity created by some innovation and pursues this opportunity while managing the inherent risks associated with it.
Journey of the idea
i2i helps persons express their innovative capacity through the following steps in moving an idea through the stages to the market. i2i serves to provide guidance and support in helping persons move from step 1 through to steps 2 and 3.
Step 1 to 2: The Challenge Component
This phase would help persons to move their ideas to a point of a developed concept. Every applicant who undertakes to go through the process would benefit from this.
Step 2 to 3: The Programme Component
The successful applicants are then given the opportunity to develop their concepts to a point where they can demonstrate its viability in one form or another, known as the point of proof of concept.
Recognising that early-stage entrepreneurs needed support beyond the proof of concept stage, in 2014 the CCI engaged in an exercise to map out all the various forms of support that were available at all levels of the entrepreneurial journey. This exercise allowed us to understand the factors that really drive entrepreneurial activity in the country. The result of this exercise is the Trinidad and Tobago Entrepreneurship Directory, a rich source of information to help persons continue along their journey in the most effective manner.