Minister of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining, Hon. Phillip Paulwell, has underscored the importance of science and technology in improving productivity and creating a globally competitive knowledge-based economy.
To this end, he said it is imperative that students gain scientific knowledge at the earliest stage of learning. “Improving science education, in particular, will directly and positively impact the level and application of science and technology to production in Jamaica,” he said.
Mr. Paulwell was speaking at the awards ceremony for the Jamaican and Belizean winners of the 2012 IDEAS Energy Innovation Contest on Aug. 21 at the Terra Nova Hotel in St. Andrew.
He informed that some 90 per cent of Jamaica’s exports are still raw material-based and only six per cent is medium to high technology manufacturers. “The situation will only be improved by effectively addressing a number of issues, which, over the years, have impacted negatively on science technology innovations in Jamaica,” he said.
He said it was for this reason that he will be re-introducing the innovation awards this year. He informed that the programme was introduced in 2005 with the intention of raising the profile of Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) in Jamaica, encourage innovation and scientific investigation, and to integrate science and business.
“We must simultaneously create a culture and an environment that recognises and encourages creativity, curiosity, a sense of adventure and …this is what we are seeing emerging in this innovation programme,” he said.
The Minister, in the meantime, commended the winners of the IDEAS Energy Innovation Contest, and lauded their various innovations. He said that this was a move in the right direction for the country.
During the ceremony, four winners – Jamaicans Richard May, Eaton Haughton, and Rebecca Harper; and Belizean, Glen Eiley and signed agreements for grant awards to develop their project ideas.
The IDEAS Energy Innovation Contest is supported by the UKAid from the Department for International Development (DFID), GVEP International, the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), and the Korean Government, and was launched in February 2012, with the purpose of financing innovative energy solutions and helping solve the energy problems facing the Caribbean.
The contest received more than 180 proposals from 14 countries across the Caribbean for projects ranging from access to energy in rural areas to renewable energy technologies and energy efficiency. A total of 30 projects were shortlisted, coming from Haiti, Barbados, Belize, Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago.
Solar-based technologies were the most popular ideas for innovation, and applicants represented a mix of community-based organisations, energy companies, existing companies and new enterprises.
Each winner will be granted up to US$200,000 to develop their innovative energy efficiency or renewable energy solution that will have local or regional benefits, provide jobs and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
In addition to grant funding, winners will receive technical and business development support to implement or scale up their ideas, as well as access to other experts, policy makers, institutions and potential financial partners. The goal is to enable the winners to turn their ideas into financially sustainable businesses, helping to solve the energy problems facing the region.