DBJ Builds Capacity of Three University-Based Incubators


PRESS RELEASE – The Development Bank of Jamaica (DBJ), through its Jamaica Venture Capital Programme (JVCP), has announced that it is providing a programme of capacity building and technical assistance (CB-TC) to three university-based incubators over an 18-month period.

The programme of intervention is multi-pronged and covers, a needs assessment, a ‘study tour’, the development of a strategic plan, and the provision of financial resources to implement the plan.

“We are pleased to be embarking on this partnership with the three major local universities and their incubators – Morris Entrepreneurship Centre at Northern Caribbean University; Technology Innovation Centre at the University of Technology, Jamaica; and Mona Business

Support Services at the University of the West Indies. The records will show that worldwide, university incubators, and indeed business incubators, are geared at creating, nurturing and providing the necessary support services for startups/entrepreneurs and young businessesto grow and succeed,” confirms Milverton Reynolds, Managing Director at the DBJ.

This capacity building and technical assistance programme forms part of the JVCP’s wider plan towards the building of a sustainable entrepreneurial ecosystem in Jamaica.

This includes a programme of intervention and capacity building to assist, not just the incubators on our university campuses, but also other business services providers in the wider Jamaican space.

The DBJ has signed a memorandum of understanding with each university and will hold them to a number of deliverables, including: the provision of baseline information on the incubator and incubatees, the development of a long-term strategic plan focusing on governance, sustainable financing, incubation performance metrics, tracking and benchmarking.

Audrey Richards, Project Coordinator, JVCP, states that; “We have undertaken a Needs Assessment jointly with each incubator. On June 19, we led a team of incubator managers and university administrators of the three universities on an intensive three-day ‘study tour’ to Canada to observe, first-hand, international best practices and to learn the different structures, programmes and activities that are offered by world-class incubators.”

The ‘study tour’ saw participants visiting some seven locations in Canada; The DMZ at Ryerson University; the Centre for Social Innovation; Venture Lab; Wilfred Laurier’s LaunchPad; Communitech; the Impact Centre at the University of Toronto and Scotia Innovation Centre.

“We (DBJ) are looking to the sustainability of the Venture Capital and Private Equity industry in Jamaica and, indeed, the Caribbean. The work, on which we are about to embark, with the university incubators, is critical to ensuring that there is a ‘pool’ of investment-ready businesses,” Richards continues.

“The ‘study tour’ (was) a learning experience for the universities, and is expected to build on the existing knowledge and experiences in;incubation management, international best practices in corporate governance and operational structures and financial sustainability”.

Terry-Ann Segree, Investment Manager, JVCP explains that; “the DBJ-JVCP has put in place a rigorous system of monitoring and evaluation, that will continue for 18 months, to which each university is expected to adhere and report on its progress. There are also a number of milestones and achievements that each incubator is expected to meet.

It is anticipated that coming out of this intervention, the university incubators will be better equipped to develop programmes and activities that will attract, nurture and build the incubatees making them investment-ready”.

The JVCP came out of the DBJ’s expanded focus on not only facilitating access to credit, but also providing access to equity. The DBJ serves as anchor investor in this emerging Venture Capital and Private Equity industry and plays a catalytic role alongside private sectorinvestors.

In 2015, the DBJ, through its Investor Panel, comprising some of Jamaica’s major investment (corporate and institutional) companies, issued a ‘call for proposals’ from fund managers desirous of investing in Jamaican businesses. Eight companies – four local and fourinternational – responded to the ‘call’, and following a due diligence process, two funds became operational in 2016.

To date the DBJ has invested approximately US$1.75 million in these two funds – Portland JSX Limited (a local limited partner aggregation vehicle created primarily to invest as a limited partner in Portland Caribbean Fund 11) and in Caribbean Mezzanine Fund 1 (CMF1) jointly managed by local fund managers, Eppley Limited and NCB Capital Markets Limited.

In February 2016, the DBJ-JVCP entered Phase 2 (2016-2019) of its programme under a second Technical Cooperation Agreement (TCA) with the Inter-American Development Bank through its Multilateral Investment Fund (IDB-MIF) to support the continued development of the entrepreneurial and early stage ecosystem in Jamaica.

This second TCA is a ‘follow on’ programme that builds on the previous TCA (2013), as the  focus continues to be on closing the gaps identified. Funding under this programme totals US$3.482M with the IDB-MIF contributing US$1.198M in technical grants and advice to be matched by DBJ counterpart funding of US$2.284M.

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