Caribbean News Now!

About Us Contact Us

Countries/Territories

Jump to your country or territory of interest

Advertise with us

Reach our daily visitors from around the Caribbean and throughout the world. Click here for rates and placements.

Contribute

Submit news and opinion for publication

Subscribe

Click here to receive our daily regional news headlines by email.

Archives

Click here to browse our extensive archives going back to 2004

Also, for the convenience of our readers and the online community generally, we have reproduced the complete Caribbean Net News archives from 2004 to 2010 here.

Climate Change Watch

The Caribbean is especially vulnerable to rising sea levels brought about by global warming. Read the latest news and information here...

Follow Caribbean News Now on Twitter
Connect with Caribbean News Now on Linkedin
Instagram



News from the Caribbean:


Send us your e-mails on subjects relevant to the Caribbean.
Please include your name, city and country of residence.
Please also note that letters to the editor must be limited to no more than 500 words.

Note: Views and opinions expressed in letters to the editor do not necessarily reflect the editorial position of Caribbean News Now! or its publisher.
Caribbean News Now! further reserves the right to edit for brevity and presentation.





Letters
Prev    Next
Letter: Knowledge, innovation and economic development
Published on January 5, 2017Email To Friend    Print Version

Dear Sir:

Continued economic development in a developing country is based on the import of knowledge, technology, by its people, its R&D organisations, to produce new and creative products and services and the generation of new knowledge, which drives the continuum of innovation, of economic development. However, the import of knowledge, even the subsequent creation of knowledge, is insufficient, though necessary, to economic development.

letters_icon.jpg
Many years ago I introduced the idea of creating a national innovation system, which I dubbed the Innovation Diamond. This was to be an undertaking of the triad, the government, research and development institutions and an embryonic private sector (since the current private sector had no interest in higher risk investment, necessary if the economy is to be diversified).

The Diamond’s four points were: centres of excellence, finance, test market/market intelligence, small and medium sized businesses (SMEs) with co-ordinating organisations that included intellectual property management/ legal. Given the absence of private sector funding for higher risk ventures upon which the Diamond was focused, government would become the investor of last resort in an attempt to teach the private sector about innovative entrepreneurship as it built the embryonic SMEs.

Hence government’s crucial role was to provide both grant and prototype funding and the venture capital required for start-up and to take the company to an IPO on the local stock market; the process that should teach the resident private sector.

Still, there is a view that the government should not be directly involved in the economy, should act as a facilitator – should provide tax and other incentives, industrial parks, agricultural access roads and in particular improve the “ease of doing business” locally.

Consider the digital smart phone, which today everyone seeks as a necessity of life, a product that has made the likes of Apple and Samsung economic behemoths. Indeed, much of the credit for this highly successful innovation has gone to Steve Jobs of Apple. But what is forgotten are the technologies upon which the smart phone is based – miniature microprocessors, memory chips, solid state hard drives, liquid crystal displays, lithium batteries, the Internet, cellular networks, GPS, touch screens, etc.

Hence, the foundation institution in the development of the iPhone was not Apple, nor Steve Jobs, but in many cases the government of the US – the key technologies were all supported in their development by governments and in particular the US government (Reference: Tim Harford; The iPhone at 10: How the Smart Phone Became so Smart, BBC News- Business 26/12/16). So much so that the Triple Helix, the triad of R&D institutions, governments and the private sector is claimed by Etzkowitz to be the general model across developed and developing countries for economic progress.

Even in the early days I was careful to point out that if any institution in the Diamond was missing the attempt at economic development via innovation would fail. Unfortunately, recent experience has proved me correct. Consider the following.

The Faculty of Engineering, UWI, even with its restricted finances, was able to produce three international patents – the G-Pan, PHI and a high efficiency controller for DC motors – i.e. some semblance of a centre of excellence exists at UWI.

Because of the lack of venture capital, of market development, none of these have been commercialized – so much so that a fledgling SME that sought to exploit the motor controller in transportation collapsed; it was unable to get financial support. All of this occurred in an environment where the various financial support institutions – ExportTT, CARIRI, NEDCO, InvestTT – exist!

The last government of Trinidad and Tobago introduced the idea of “i2i” followed by the present government’s Entrepreneurial Talent Grant; competitions to reward the general public for ideas that are judged, in the latter case by the current low risk private sector, to be innovative and hence could be commercialised. In both of these cases the in depth intellectual influence of centres of excellence is absent, the finances are limited and co-ordinated marketing and market development are minimal.

Little is really expected of these competitions with respect to diversification of the magnitude required to take over from the energy sector in the long term. One important aspect that is encouraged by centres of excellence is clustering, which such competitions are unable to duplicate.

Still, there is talk about making this country, Trinidad and Tobago, less dependent on imported food, even to build the capacity to export indigenous agricultural products.

This is reminiscent of when Brazil attempted to feed its people. It created in 1973, EMBRAPA, a centre of excellence and an agricultural innovation system. Today Brazil is one of the largest exporters of food in the world and its centre of excellence employs hundreds of PhDs.

It is worth noting also the innovative use of salt water and solar energy for desalination to grow vegetables in the Australian desert. We have no such innovation system.

Maybe oil and gas prices and their productions will increase soon and the good times will return to the Trinidad and Tobago plantation. Economic sustainability however, is about constructing an economic model that includes a national innovation system.

Mary K King
St Augustine
 
Reads : 3830






Click here to receive daily news headlines from Caribbean News Now!



Back...

Comments:

No comments on this topic yet. Be the first one to submit a comment.

Back...

Send us your comments!  

Send us your comments on this article. All fields are required.

For your contribution to reach us, you must (a) provide a valid e-mail address and (b) click on the validation link that will be sent to the e-mail address you provide.  If the address is not valid or you don't click on the validation link, it will be a waste of your time typing your submission because we will never see it!

Your Name:

Your Email:

(Validation required)

Comments:
Enter Code *

 


Prev    Next

 




Other Headlines:



Regional Sports: