Scores of youth will now have access to state-of-the-art innovation tools and technology to develop their software and entrepreneurial skills.
This will be provided through the Democratizing Innovation in the Americas (DIA) Project, which will facilitate the implementation of Youth Innovation Labs by the Institute of Law and Economics, in collaboration with the Organization of American States (OAS).
Speaking at the opening ceremony of the DIA Urban Challenge Ideathon on May 9, in Kingston, State Minister in the Ministry of National Security, Senator the Hon. Pearnel Charles Jr., said the project will give vulnerable youth a platform to use technology and their creativity to solve problems.
“I applaud this initiative, which supports youth participation in the development process, and I urge all participants to maximise this great opportunity to contribute to the development of our nation through your creative ideas and sustainable solutions,” Senator Charles said.
He said the US$80,000 project, which is being funded by Citibank and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), will have a series of activities during the hosting of the two-day ideathon that will result in 20 young persons receiving US$1,000 towards the development of their idea.
The ideas/solutions to the challenges will focus on five main areas – crime and security; Participatory City; youth unemployment; climate change, environmental protection and renewable energy; and gender-based violence.
“The project will have ‘high tech’ labs that young people can use from morning until night, and be supportive in creating their philosophies. Young people are being encouraged to go there and use the top-of-the-line equipment to create their ideas and keep them out of trouble,” the State Minister said.
He further added that the youth have the gift of ingenuity, and encouraged them to have fun and use the opportunity and the tools provided to make inventions that will become solutions to the challenges facing the country.
The Minister also applauded the stakeholders for their investment and commitment to the project, and reassured them that their investment will assist the country in solving problems through the use of technology.
For her part, Project Director of the OAS’ ‘New Path’ Project, Susan Ewerse, explained that the project is expected to create access to spaces for innovation and empower young innovators and micro-entrepreneurs.
She added that it will create solutions that will open up opportunities at the community level and help advance national development.
Miss Ewerse noted that in the summer, all young people who have used the lab will be able to pitch their ideas to get funding to develop those ideas.