The new Microsoft Innovation Centre (MIC) which opens on Monday will provide training for future business owners, said Frances Correia, country head for the tech giant in T&T.
"The ultimate goal is to get a lot more business activity from this programme. These will be new start ups, or it will enhance already existing businesses. If you get 1,000 students passing through the training facility in a year, and out of that a 100 into prototyping, then 40 take these ideas into business incubation, those are 40 new businesses that never had an opportunity before.
"We will be going to different business chambers, SME's and other bodies to drive this idea," she told the T&T Guardian yesterday.The MIC at Freeport, the first in the English-speaking Caribbean, will provide resources and support for students, entrepreneurs and startups, accelerating creation of new companies, jobs and growth of the local software ecosystem.
In May, a memorandum of understanding was signed with the Caribbean Industrial Research Institute (Cariri) for collaboration on the facility. Cariri said on its website that the Innovation Centre will assist developers, independent software vendors, entrepreneurs, researchers and students to develop and deploy innovative software solutions based on Microsoft technology.
Services provided at the MIC are designed to boost ICT technology development and foster growth of sustainable local software economies through skills and professional training, industry partnerships and innovation. It accommodates stakeholders such as academic institutions, industry and government.
Correia said the MIC will serve as training facility providing first world research material in a training environment, then moving on to the business incubator stage where ideas and products will be prepared for market.
"We will be training on app development, robotics, animation and training on higher levels. We do not want this to be academic but we want people to use their training for real world problems. We have someone from the University of the West Indies (UWI) who is using Microsoft Connect technology to bringing hearing impaired persons into society, to make them more integrated into T&T's parlance. It is using motion technology to create sign language of our own local dialect," she said.
Correia said the training will be open to everyone and tuition is free.
"Anyone who wants that deep vested training, whether they are registered with a training institute or not, we want them. Anyone who has an idea that IT technology can solve, we want those ideas in the ideas think tank and we will bring the developers together to create the solutions and prototype them," she said.After the training, Cariri, located on the same compound in Freeport, will provide the business incubator aspect.
"Cariri has created the Centre for Enterprise Development in Freeport which is a business incubator programme, so we are taking people from a learning environment, then taking them to prototyping and then moving them into business incubation," Correia said.