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  • Acting Permanent Secretary in the Science and Technology Ministry, Wahkeen Murray, says the Science, Technology and Innovation (ST&I) Policy will be available for public consultation in a matter of weeks.

Acting Permanent Secretary in the Science and Technology Ministry, Wahkeen Murray, says the Science, Technology and Innovation (ST&I) Policy will be available for public consultation in a matter of weeks.

“We have a draft in place. It was considered last week by a committee of the Cabinet. They proposed some edits to it, and once Cabinet approves it, then it will be tabled in Parliament as a Green Paper or a Concept Paper, then we’ll have public consultation,” she said.

Ms. Murray was speaking to JIS News at the opening of the Scientific Research Council’s (SRC) fifth Biennial Science and Technology Conference and Exposition at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel in New Kingston on November 19.

The two-day event was held under the theme ‘ST&I in Business: Facilitating Trade and Global Competitiveness”.

The ST&I Policy, among other things, seeks to advance Jamaica’s economic, social and environmental agenda by ensuring that ST&I are integrated into public policy procedures.

This is in keeping with the National Development Plan, Vision 2030, which envisions a technology-enabled, knowledge-based society.

“The policy has about three or four major goals. It looks at funding, collaboration… it looks at how we move scientists to becoming entrepreneurs. So there are a whole set of goals and strategic objectives that will be there,” she explained.

Ms. Murray is urging input from members of academia and private- and public-sector institutions.

“We are saying, look at what we’re proposing to guide our thinking as a country in this particular area to ensure we have it right,” she said.

Executive Director of the SRC, Dr. Cliff Riley, told JIS News that the new ST&I Policy is important because it places emphasis on innovation.

“The old policy was about the creation of knowledge and the dissemination of such knowledge, but the new policy places a lot of emphasis on utilising that knowledge to increase productivity, innovativeness and foster creativity of entrepreneurs,” he pointed out.

“It also speaks to the financing of science and technology,” he added.

The conference and exposition is focused on providing information and solutions on key areas of national development.

Dr. Riley noted that the event is also aimed at utilising “science, technology, knowledge and experiences to boost (Jamaica’s) competitiveness globally as well as facilitate trade”.

Director General of the National Commission on Science and Technology (NCST) and SRC Chairman, Professor. Errol Morrison, in his address, urged local scientists to find solutions to tackle local issues.

Other speakers during the opening session of the conference included Professor Ishenkumba Kahwa from the Mona Campus of University of the West Indies (UWI) and Director of Indigenous-based knowledge, technology and innovation at the Department of Science and Technology in South Africa, Dr. Aunkh H. Chabalala, who delivered the keynote address.