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Minister of State in the Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce, Hon Michael Stern, says that the Government has remained committed to stimulating a culture of research to improve the nation’s health, as well as its ability to generate investments and jobs.
Mr. Stern said that the practical use of science, technology and innovation would be crucial to the success of this policy.
“As Jamaica grapples with the challenges in the global market place, we are intensifying our efforts towards meaningful and sustained growth through research and development,” he said.
The junior Minister was the main speaker at the Caribbean Young Scientists and Technologists Conference at the Sunset Jamaica Grande Resort in Ocho Rios St. Ann, January 20-22. It was hosted by the University of Technology (UTech).
Mr. Stern, speaking at the opening session on Wednesday (January 20), thanked UTech for hosting the conference, which sought to promote and increase the numbers of “young, brilliant, internationally competitive scientists.”
“This Conference is an excellent initiative, which will foster cross-fertilisation of ideas, research, networking and healthy competition among our youth in the area of science and technology,” he stated.
Mr. Stern said his Ministry encourages and supports innovation aimed at stimulating new demand-driven products. For example, he said that the Technology Investment Fund, which it has set up to support the commercialisation of technology-based products and services, is already yielding positive results.
He also noted that 80 percent of the projects benefitting from the Fund had been successfully commercialised, and include projects in telemedicine, ICT, bio-technology and flavour technology.
“Our ability to move products from research and development, through the various stages of the value chain will, in a very real way, determine our capacity to be more competitive in the world market,” he noted.
He observed that the Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce and its agencies were key change agents in Jamaica’s economic development, pointing to efforts of agencies such as the Scientific Research Council (SRC), Jamaica Intellectual Property Office (JIPO), the Bureau of Standards Jamaica (BSJ), Jamaica Business Development Corporation (JBDC) and Jamaica Trade and Invest (JTI), which provide vital elements needed to convert research and development into products, business, trade and, eventually, dollars and cents.
He urged the Caribbean region to continue to explore gaps, in terms of knowledge, and seek to share information that could generate empowerment.
He said that despite the limited resources, there is an urgent need to develop a common research strategy in areas that would seek to affect the region, including the effects of deforestation, climate change and environmental degradation.
“I want you to recognise that our development agenda, as a region, must focus on environmental sustainability, exploring the various uses of raw materials, food security, the potential of some of indigenous foods and spices and importantly, the opportunities that can be derived to increase the earning power of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) businesses through improved efficiency, quality and product diversity,” he stated.

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