Minister of State in the Ministry of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining, Hon. Julian Robinson, says the Government is committed to increasing access to technology for all Jamaicans, as it seeks to create a shift to a knowledge-based economy.
He emphasised that this is necessary, as it is imperative that Jamaica moves away from depending solely on the production of physical goods and services for economic development, and instead, take advantage of its intellectual assets.
“Physical goods and services won’t die, because we still need those and we still need to be more competitive…but we must have the opportunity for Jamaicans to stay at home and develop commercially viable solutions from their computers,” Mr. Robinson said.
The Minister was speaking at a Microsoft Imagine Cup Workshop, held at the Mona Visitors’ Lodge at the University of the West Indies, on June 20.
He said that competitions, such as the Imagine Cup, are important as they provide participants with an opportunity to develop their own ideas into solutions, which can compete globally, and also “to make those ideas into commercially viable ventures, which will earn for you and the country valuable foreign exchange."
Meanwhile, Country Manager, Microsoft Jamaica, Marcelle Smart, said the organisation is committed to fostering innovation in countries in which it does business, and pointed out that over the years, Jamaica’s entries in the Imagine Cup competition have consistently been of the highest quality.
“These (solutions), I believe, show the potential of our talent here in Jamaica and what we can use as we seek to build our Vision 2030 plan for Jamaica,” she said.
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 Microsoft Imagine Cup is the world’s premier student technology competition, which seeks to provide students with a platform to showcase their software development and technical skills, to the world’s most challenging problems.
Since its inception in 2003, over 1.4 million students have participated in the global competition, with Jamaica, through the Northern Caribbean University, submitting top-class entries every year.
The NCU has advanced to the regional stage of the competition every year, for the first six years of the Imagine Cup. They have also advanced to the World Finals on four occasions, travelling to Japan in 2005, Korea in 2007, Egypt in 2009 and Poland in 2010.
The university’s biggest success came in 2010 when Team Xormis copped the world prize in the Interoperability category with the solution entitled Xcape, an electronic school computer aid for primary education. The same year, NCU also placed first and second at the regional level.
The institution was also successful internationally in 2007, with the solution CADI (Computer Aided Distance Instructor), which placed third in the software design category.
Jamaica will submit two entries in the 2012 competition, with Team SATNA from the University of Technology and Team Blu from Northern Caribbean University.
Team SATNA's submission is an application entitled ‘SWOPP’ (Surveillance for Wide Life Observation, Preservation and Protection), which monitors wild life habitats using IP cameras. The team members include, Julian Jarrett, Nicholas Cunningham, Christopher Pierson, Shawn Ramsay and Graevon Smith.
An application called 'Fixemup' has been developed by Team Blu, which will make collaboration among people in medical profession easier across the globe. The team members are Ricardo Thompson, Rhodery Shaw, Terrence Sterling and Warren Robinson.