PitchIT Caribbean, under the remit of the Caribbean Mobile Innovation Project (CMIP), is a two-tiered partnership approach to support growth-oriented mobile app businesses in the Caribbean. The programme is designed to strengthen the Caribbean mobile innovation ecosystem and enable sustainable and competitive mobile enterprises to grow through activities that will target early stage innovators and guide them to market readiness. The aim is for the creation of a regional pool of high-growth potential mobile start-ups with the capacity to release their apps to the market and raise additional capital to grow.
I spoke with Melissa Johnson Senior Projects and Portfolio Officer at UWI and Project Manager at PitchIT Caribbean to find out more about PitchIT and the opportunities offered by Slush 2017. I began by asking her to give some background on PitchIT Caribbean.
"PitchIT is an offshoot of CMIP the Caribbean Mobile Innovation Programme we work specifically with entrepreneurs in the tech and tech enabled business field. Intended to support startups support entrepreneurial development and contribute to the growth of the Caribbean Tech ecosystem"
I asked how the Caribbean is participating in this year's Slush Global Impact Accelerator, and what activities are being held?
"So the slush Caribbean Global Impact Accelerator qualifying competition is the entry point for Caribbean tech firms with the solutions to key global challenges, and who are focused on Impact being able to interact with their global colleagues in Helsinki Finland. It is open to entrepreneurs who are operating registered businesses and was incomes are not exceeding a million pounds and who are very much focused on impact and really changing the landscape of the spaces in which they operate. All tech firms are eligible to apply it's not just persons who may have been a part of the PitchIT Caribbean programme."
I asked if past participants of PitchIT activities participate?
"The competition is also open to entrepreneurs who are in PitchIT, who are currently or have been part of the hubs. Those are the support firms who have been providing much-needed support in terms of advice, guidance and incubation services to entrepreneurs across the Caribbean."
Slush Global Impact Accelerator is a programme created in collaboration with the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland and multiple global partners. The purpose of GIA is to create a leading global programme to support startups that are looking to solve some of the most pressing global challenges and to contribute to the discussion on impact investing.
Slush Global Impact Accelerator 2017 brings impactful entrepreneurs from emerging markets to Helsinki to accelerate their business, attract additional financing and make an even greater impact on their societies and beyond. The programme includes online pre-event coaching and the Helsinki boot camp programme from November 22–December 2, 2017 culminating in Slush.
The deadline for the Caribbean competition is the 23rd August and persons interested in taking part can apply here, http://www.pitchitcaribbean.com/community/slush/
Jamaica Is Pushing The Boundaries In Geospatial Mapping
In an interview with the BBC the head of Jamaica's National Spatial Data Division Rowan Richards explain how the country is using geospatial data to improve disaster recovery planning and preparation.
Mr. Richards said, "Jamaica and the rest of the Caribbean we sit smack in the middle of the line of attack where hurricanes are concerned and we can utilise a lot of data that is available within the map arena to deploy resources if a hurricane hits us. Also, if a certain area is particularly vulnerable where will most flooding occur? Or what is the social economic and other demographic characteristics of a particular area? So utilising all of that information we can provide better responses to disasters."
Richards also explained some of the challenges that his department had to overcome in making this data freely available, saying:
"You know that is something that has always been in a challenge not just in Jamaica, but across the entire Caribbean. The private sector needs information in order to help with the advanced development in various different areas. We have been working out within all government as well as a push at the United Nations level to ensure that there is free and open access geospatial data."
He also gave an example of how geospatial information can be used to market the tourism dependent country
I'm extremely optimistic. Can you imagine, a country like Jamaica which depends on tourism. As a tourist before I actually come to Jamaica and this is a plug for Jamaica. I can go into my computer, look at what a particular site might look like, take a virtual walk along that site along that road, see what the surrounding conditions are. I am completely optimistic. A couple years ago we weren't at this stage and now we are at a stage where all our entities have come together for sharing to members of the public.
Facilitating Innovation In Corporate Trinidad and Tobago
With the aim of facilitating a greater awareness of programmes which will assist businesses to incorporate innovation into their processes, the Caribbean Industrial Research Institute (CARIRI) in partnership with the Chaguanas Chamber of Industry and Commerce (CCIC) hosted a session entitled 'Encouraging Innovation in Corporate TT'.
CARIRI and the CCIC have established a strong relationship that is built on both organizations' desire for diversification and growth in the economy.
This particular session was geared towards promoting the intent of the CCIC to remain proactive in providing avenues for businesses in the Central area and this was the platform that CARIRI chose to promote two new initiatives geared toward assisting organisations.
The first is the Innovation Gap Analysis Programme (iGap) which is intended to identify and engage potential innovations in existing companies and will also address the need to develop a culture of Innovation in private sector enterprises, particularly SMEs. This initiative is based on the recognition that SMEs are particularly vulnerable to the rapidly changing dynamics of the international economic environment and, to remain competitive, these enterprises must keep their value proposition current, relevant and valuable to customers.
The Data Innovation Solutions Centre (DISC) is the second initiative. It involves Business Intelligence and Data Analytics which will use the respective organisations' data to provide information that can assist in making more sustainable and innovative business decisions.