State Minister for Science, Technology, Energy and Mining (STEM), Hon. Julian Robinson, says the Government intends to adopt several strategies to strengthen the capacity for Science, Technology and Innovation (STI), to advance national development.
Speaking at the launch of a Strategic Roadmap development for STI in Jamaica, at Jamaica House, Tuesday March 13, Mr. Robinson said that although it is recognised that “ STI is fundamental to fostering economic growth and global competitiveness,” there are certain weaknesses that need to be addressed.
These, he said, include relatively low levels of investment in research and development, lack of a national innovation system, and limited human resource development. He noted as well that although advancements have been made, another limitation is the relatively weak protection of intellectual property.
To address these weaknesses, he said the Government plans to integrate science and technology into all aspects of national development. This is in addition to the creation of knowledge parks and centres of excellence to facilitate research and development and innovation, with emphasis on indigenous technology.
“We have so many talented people in this country, we don’t need to be importing and buying technology. We have the capacity within the country to create our own technology and to export it,” the State Minister argued.
Mr. Robinson further pointed out other strategies to involve identifying priorities for STI infrastructure development, consistent with the state’s development objectives; and for STI to be delivered jointly with investment in industry, research institutions and Government.
He said the administration also proposes to develop and organise world-class research teams across all disciplines; create a national research and development agenda and establish appropriate mechanisms to encourage the private sector to become a dominant player in STI and in research and development activities.
“We fundamentally believe that science and technology form a critical part of national growth and development and it’s consistent with our Vision 2030, where Jamaica will seek to deepen the application of science and technology to benefit all aspects of national development and to unleash the full creative potential of our people,” the State Minister added.
Vision 2030 Jamaica is the country’s first long-term national development plan, which aims at enabling Jamaica to achieve developed country status by 2030. It is based on a comprehensive vision: “Jamaica, the place of choice to live, work, raise families and do business”.
The STI Strategic Roadmap is being developed through funding from the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA). Through this process, it is expected that a streamlined, synergistic and enabling framework will be developed for the effective advancement of STI in Jamaica, that will incorporate the collaboration of all private and public sector stakeholders.
Counsellor and Head, Development Co-operation, CIDA, Marie Legault, said developing a strategic roadmap is “an important step toward the larger vision and goal of harnessing science and technology into the service of Jamaica’s economic and social development.”
“Canada is pleased to support an initiative such as this, given the level of work and attention that has been paid to these areas in Canada,” she added.
Chairman of the steering committee (for the roadmap development), Ishenkumba Kahwa, said the establishment of the roadmap is part of a larger consultancy to review the public sector research and development institutions.
“The consultancy will seek to establish a mechanism for rationalisation of investments in public sector research and development infrastructure, human resources and management as well as a roadmap for enhancing innovation, co-ordination and overall exploitation of STI in the economy,” he said.
By Alecia Smith-Edwards, JIS Reporter