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Planning Ministry gives $4.4m in grants for innovation
A total of $4,385,000 will be given out in grants by the Planning Ministry to 50 people who came up with innovative business ideas in the “Idea 2 Innovation Competition”. This was disclosed by Planning Minister Dr Bhoe Tewarie yesterday at a function to present the grants at the Hyatt Regency. “I had access to $10 million but I did not give out all,” the minister said.
Those receiving grants of up to $200,000 submitted new ideas for the manufacturing, services, creative industries, ICT, agro-processing, food and beverage, waste management and green industries sectors. Edmund Ramtahal received a grant for coming up with an idea for doubles production machinery. Jomo Wahtuse and Gregory Diaz were awarded a grant for creating the JW Bykemower Exercise Apparatus, which enables you to cut your lawn and exercise at the same time.
Noting that it is only through innovation that a small country like T&T can compete globally, Tewarie said the Ministry launched the competition in May earlier this year. Citizens were invited to submit their ideas for consideration for grant funding. The competition was the first major initiative of the Ministry’s Council for Competitiveness and Innovation (CCI), established early in 2011 as an advisory to the Ministry.
The CCI now has a specific mandate to significantly improve this country’s global competitiveness, CCI chairman, Chanka Seeteram, addressing the function, said. Seeteram, noting that the competition is occurring during T&T’s 50th independence anniversary, said it was not solely a funding scheme but a capacity-building exercise.
Tewarie said in 2012, T&T placed 81 out of 142 countries in competitiveness and there was a critical need to address the issue of innovation. On the Global Innovation Index T&T ranks 72 out of 125 countries, he said. “The competition represents an investment in the creativity, potential and ingenuity of citizens to conceive new inventions and innovative projects,” Tewarie said.
Those who received grants will be offered technical and administrative help by the Caribbean Industrial Research Institute to set up businesses and there may be a flood of new companies in T&T. The Minister urged unsuccessful applicants not to be discouraged, assuring that failure is part of entrepreneurial growth. “We must not rush to abandon an idea just because others may not fully comprehend our vision,” he advised.
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