Chief Executive Officer of the Caribbean Climate Innovation Centre (CCIC), Everton Hanson. File photo
By Rochelle Williams
KINGSTON, Jamaica (JIS) — Since its inception in 2014, the Caribbean Climate Innovation Centre (CCIC) programme has been leading the way in developing a regionally integrated approach to solving the Caribbean’s climate, energy, and resource challenges.
The CCIC programme aims to assist Caribbean island states to adapt to and mitigate the impact of climate change by empowering each territory to create clean technologies and businesses, and strengthening several critical areas.
Chief executive officer, Everton Hanson, said that the Centre is taking an entrepreneurship approach to addressing the issues.
“The purpose of this project is to build an entrepreneurial eco system that will foster growth-oriented entrepreneurs and profitable businesses that address climate change mitigation and adaptation,” he said.
The CCIC, which was established as a consortium, is jointly managed by two of the Caribbean’s foremost scientific institutions – the Scientific Research Council (SRC), based in Jamaica, and the Caribbean Industrial Research Institute (CARIRI) situated in Trinidad and Tobago.
Both islands have active CCIC programmes and function as the project’s primary ‘country hubs’. These hubs are responsible for administering financing, management, and support service delivery regionally.
The programme, which emphasizes the need for a unified response to developing climate change solutions, has 12 established country hubs in several other Caribbean Community (CARICOM) states: Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Montserrat, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, and Suriname.
The CCIC model was developed in collaboration with local stakeholders and addresses the gaps across five priority areas: solar energy, water management, sustainable agribusiness, resource use and efficiency, and energy efficiency.
The CCIC also offers services that assist entrepreneurs in developing business models for their products and services. Among these are technology commercialization; market development; mentoring and training; networking, as well as business incubation support, and identifying and developing local, regional and international market opportunities.
A key feature of the programme is that it facilitates the testing and prototyping of proposed innovations, and provides technical support and information on contemporary green technology.
So far the bold initiative has met with success, instituting innovative activities in its goal of supporting companies from the nascent stage to an advanced stage of development. This has been accomplished through the staging of boot camps and accelerator programmes, among other activities.
One of its more notable programmes, the proof of concept (PoC) competition held in 2015, invited innovators to present designs and concepts for products which can be transformed into viable businesses.
Over 300 innovators from 13 Caribbean countries applied for grant funding through the competition, with 11 winners were selected from the pool of applicants.
The successful participants, who were awarded grants ranging from US$10,000 to $50,000, came from Jamaica, Antigua and Barbuda, St Kitts and Nevis, Dominica, St Lucia and Belize.
Additionally, the PoC winners benefitted from several capacity building exercises facilitated by CCIC and CARIRI, including mentorship, training and technical assistance in business incubator activities.
The CCIC in Jamaica recently hosted the Caribbean Green Tech Start up Boot camp, which ran from February 26 to 28. Over 70 innovators and entrepreneurs from across the Caribbean participated in the interactive three-day workshop, which challenged them to refine their concepts, transforming them into viable, sustainable businesses.
Executive director of the SRC, Dr Cliff Riley, points out that with the project is an important initiative as it directly addresses problems associated with climate change while stimulating economic development.
“It is a project for the entire region to build capacity and to ensure that innovative ideas and products can be translated into viable businesses,” he notes.
The programme was developed under the World Bank’s global partnership development programme, InfoDev, and is being implemented under its Climate Technology Program (CTP).
The Caribbean component of the Climate Innovation Centre (CIC) is one of seven CICs established across the world. Other countries with CICs are Kenya, Ethiopia, South Africa, Vietnam, Morocco, and Ghana.
The CCIC programme is one of three components of the World Bank/InfoDev Entrepreneurship Programme for Innovation in the Caribbean (EPIC) and is funded by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA).