Grants awarded to 53 innovators


Grants to be awarded to 53 innovators to bring their ideas to proof of concept in one year (27th September, 2013).
Fifty-three applicants comprising a mix of individuals, project teams and companies have emerged as winners of the 2013 idea to innovation (i2i) competition. These winners will benefit from grants from the Government of Trinidad and Tobago, ranging from $75,000 to $200,000 to take their ideas to proof of concept, in one year. These grants are part of a $10million Innovation Financing Facility established by the Government, to provide finance for enterprises and initiatives that will contribute measurably to the sustainable development of Trinidad and Tobago. The winners were chosen from 471 submissions and will be formally announced at an award ceremony on October 1, 2013 at the Hyatt Hotel.

The i2i competition, which is in its second year, is the brainchild of the Council for Competitiveness and Innovation (CCI) of the Ministry of Planning and Sustainable Development. The competition was conceived as a platform for innovators and inventors to submit proposals for innovative projects and creative initiatives that will bring value to the key economic growth sectors and is in keeping with Government’s economic diversification strategy, away from oil and gas, by encouraging innovation in seven areas. These were as follow energy, food sustainability, culture and creative industries, maritime, tourism, financial and ICT.

According to Minister of Planning and Sustainable Development, Dr. Bhoe Tewarie, at the launch of the competition in May, 2013 “the i2i competition represents an investment in the creativity , potential and ingenuity of Trinidad and Tobago to conceive new inventions and innovative projects and that the grants were intended to reward business creativity that would firstly present potential to serve the national community by having a positive impact on the social and economic development of the country with the potential for economic viability.”

The categories which gained the most grants in the 2013 competition were Manufacturing and Manufacturing-related with 13, followed by Services with 12 and ICT with 10. Creative Industries gained six, while 2 awards were amassed by each of the following categories: primary agriculture and agro processing activities, bio-technology, creative industries, information and communication industries, alternative/remedial energy/energy efficiency, environment (clean technologies and eco-related activities), bio-waste and other waste (including recycling activities) and tourism.
Some of the successful projects include construction of solar dryers for sun-dried banana production; increasing engine efficiency by modifying the turbo charger; creation of an automotive sleep immobilizer; immersive language application; birds of Trinidad and Tobago App; evaporative cooler; portable automatic water closet; wifi library; and electronic guided tours of Trinidad and Tobago to name a few. The full list of winners and their projects are listed in i2i website

Over the project life span, participants will be part of a series of developmental workshops organized by both CARIRI and CCI. Although the CCI has responsibility for the total programme, technical support to the awardees towards developing ideas to proof of concept with a view to achieving commercialization will be provided by CARIRI. Awards will be disbursed to participants by NEDCO, over the project lifespan in life with successful completion of agreed milestones.
The Executive Director of the CCI, Dr. Rikhi Permanand disclosed that the 2013 competition entitled “Toolkit for Success” provided aspiring entrepreneurs with the tools needed to bring their ideas to life. In this regard participants in the competition were invited to a number of workshops such as financial planning and intellectual property. They were also guided on how to write a successful business plan. A new initiative on speed networking formed part of the i2i launch. “Pecha Kucha” sessions in which participants were asked to present their ideas using a methodology in which 20 slides were shown for 20 seconds each with presentations lasting six minutes 20 seconds altogether, was another new initiative. Pecha Kucha nights were held in Port of Spain and San Fernando in Trinidad and Scarborough Tobago.

To qualify for the i2i competition, projects were required to meet the following criteria: the invention of a new product or service; the improvement of a new product or service; a new process of adding value to a Trinidad and Tobago sourced raw material; the products, services or processes should be able to find a market or use in local or export market; project impact, driving social benefit and creation of sustainable, high quality jobs, targeting critical areas of national recovery, health and wellness, food security and creative industries.

Participants were invited to submit inventions and creative initiatives over a six week period, starting from May 29 to July 12, 2013. An evaluation process was conducted by an independent panel comprising prominent businessmen, academics, entrepreneurs and a representative from the Public Service. Evaluation was undertaken over a period of six weeks during which time entries were graded and scored based on the criteria outlined. To ensure that all entrants were treated fairly, names of participants were omitted and ideas/concepts were tracked using a coding system after which they were returned to CCI for tabulating and then ranked accordingly. The size of grants was then ascribed by the independent panel based on activities outlined in their workplan.

Last year, a number of i2i winners were able to successfully move their projects closer towards commercialization, by developing strategies to market their products regionally and internationally. Wesley Gervais has won three prestigious awards in the global marketplace for his invention “Hive Source”, a web based outsourcing marketplace. Vishnu Balgobin is currently working with Angostura to use some of their products to create “SMAKS Chai rum” and already has distribution deals in three countries. Leonardo Mohammed has created a multifunctional screw drill for the testing, boring, extracting and injecting gases and other types of chemicals as well as liquids, slurry, granules and solids. He won “best inventor” from the World Intellectual Patent Office in May 2012.

The Council for Competitiveness and Innovation was inaugurated in January 2011 and comprise a Board chaired by Mr. Richard Lewis with both private and public sector membership. These members are Mr. Francis Lewis, Mr. Nicholas Galt, Mr. Dinesh Ragoo, Mr. Chris Arshard Hosein, Ms. Cheva Alexander, and Ms. Beena Poliah-Mahadeo. The core mandate of the Council is to improve the competitiveness of Trinidad and Tobago with its initial focus being on championing the national importance and awareness of innovation and competitiveness; improving the country Global Competitiveness Index ranking; and supporting the process of the development of a National Innovation Policy and a National Innovation System. To achieve these goals, the Council is mandated to develop criteria to evaluate the competitiveness of existing businesses; monitor, measure and evaluate project and programme performance outcomes within existing businesses; coordinate policy prescriptions to optimize the benefits of investments; and implement diagnostic studies of the existing business environment and propose changes for improvement.

The 2013 winners are Michael Parris, Satnarine Singh, Martin Lee John, Jere Andrews, Eddison Alfred, Juenanne Alkins, Joseph Rivers, Leigh Taylor, Nina Leonard, Troy Smith, Michael Wiltshire, Omar Lewis, Adrian Ewing, Ian Alleyne, Kevan St. Brice, Quinten Questel, Anil Ramnanan, Anthony Inglefield, Carlton De Silva Gordon, David Cockburn, Kevan Sinanan, Christian Chin, Leonardo Mohammed, Ryan James, Andrew Smith, Dwight Porter, Estevan Dubrisingh, Gene Jones, Shyamal Chandradathsingh, Ancel Bhagwandeen, Jerome Smith, Aaron Doug Deen, Ambokile Adio, Deidra Taylor, Jomo Wahtuse, David Nedd, Gillian Goddard, Troy Hector, Ravelino Guevara, Alana Abdool, Aleksandr Albert, Clyde George, Kevin Bhall, Wilhelm Nothnagel, Claude Marshall, Derron Sandy, Gerard, Andrews, Jeaneen Bharat, Kathy-Ann Mackay, Sterling Ramroach, Navin Baboolal, Barbara Seunarine and Marlene Davidson.
The board and management of the Council for Competitiveness and Innovation extend congratulations to all winners and thank all those who have participated in the competition. A next round of competition is due in May 2014.