Towards Exponential Growth in Barbados


Dialogue on policies and instruments to unleash innovation

November 22nd, 2018 – 8:30 am – 5:30 pm, followed by cocktail

November 23rd, 2018 – 9:00 am – 12:00 pm

Courtyard by Marriott Hotel

There is evidence that the Caribbean has a lower return on innovation as compared to other small economies, which indicates an absence of some or all of these mechanisms of support.
Research has found that while Caribbean countries do not differ from other small economies in their potential capacity for innovation – as measured by the quality of research institutions, corporate R&D spending, university-industry collaboration, and the availability of scientists and engineers -, however Caribbean businesses innovate at a much lower rate than businesses in other small economies.
The need for an eco-system to support innovation is even more pressing in a global context of rapid technological change. The world is experiencing a 4th industrial revolution, where massive technological changes could produce radical threats to established businesses, while also could create massive opportunities for businesses to become more efficient, and to produce new products and services. For the Caribbean, new technology is an opportunity to use the region’s recognized creativity to transcend the logistics hurdles that have traditionally affected its goods and services’ exports.
Barbados has crucial elements to take advantage of the ongoing 4th industrial revolution. Its UWI Cave Hill campus is investing in industry 4.0 technologies, the country has a well-developed financial sector and domestic conglomerates cognizant of the need to explore new technology solutions, and desirous of investing in dynamic firms. Finally, Barbados faces domestic problems that can become an inspiration for global solutions to local problems.
Missing in Barbados are key policies and instruments to support innovative businesses at all stages, particularly in the early stages, and especially in the high-tech sector, as well as institutions that effectively coordinate those actors that already exist in the eco-system.
To address such gaps developed countries, and to a lesser extent, developing countries, have put in place institutions that offer support for innovation. Most Latin American countries have created innovation agencies working to produce tangible results evidenced in the creation of new businesses and new export sectors, with a corresponding impact on tax revenue and employment.
Given Barbados’ potential to benefit from an ecosystem to support entrepreneurship and innovation, Compete Caribbean invited Ruta N representatives to Bridgetown, to delve into the different kinds of support that a Jamaican eco-system would need to provide to promote and foster innovation.
Ruta N is the innovation agency of Medellín, a city of 3.6 million people in Colombia which was once known as the global capital of narco-trafficking. Medellín has transformed itself from one of the most dangerous cities in the world during the 1990s, to being recognized in 2013 as the world’s most socially innovative city.
The example of the city of Medellín, Colombia, located in a small and similarly isolated geographical setting as most countries in the Caribbean, will illustrate what a dynamic innovation agency can do for economic growth.

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