Three local firms have come out on top in the Compete Caribbean Partnership Facility (CCPF) and Export Barbados’ Ocean Challenge. The successful firms are eligible for up to USD$100,000 in non-reimbursable technical assistance grants from Compete Caribbean to implement their blue economy innovation projects.
The announcement was made on Friday, September 16, 2022, in a closing ceremony at the Bagnall’s Point Gallery, Pelican Village. In attendance were representatives of CCPF, Export Barbados and the Ministry of Industry, Innovation, Science and Technology. They heard first-hand about the innovative and cutting-edge technologies being employed to facilitate the sustainable management of our ocean and coastal resources for livelihoods, food security and the economic development of Barbados.
The Ocean Challenge recognizes the economic potential of the blue economy. The projects that will receive support are DigiFish, led by Dr Shelly-Ann Cox of Blue Shell Productions; Blue Bot Project, the brainchild of Antonio Hollingsworth, Bajan Digital Creations Inc.; and Skeete’s Bay Market, spearheaded by Michael Hinds, Westpoint Culinary Inc. The technical assistance will cover a maximum of 75 percent of the total project budget. Each firm is required to finance the remaining 25 percent of the budget through cash and in-kind contributions.
Delivering the feature address, Minister of Industry, Innovation, Science and Technology, the Honorable Davidson Ishmael, described the Challenge as “forward-thinking”, noting that it is contributing to a brighter and more sustainable future.
Minister Ishmael added: “This innovative and entrepreneurial drive has the potential to be a game-changer. My Ministry is therefore seeking to assist enterprises and the workforce to harness sustainability as a competitive advantage as they invest in innovation and seize new growth opportunities in the blue/green sector which can catalyze economic development. While this official ceremony marks the end of the initial administrative aspects of Ocean Challenge 2022, it simultaneously signals the beginning of a journey towards unique and rewarding solutions to the challenges that promoted this exploratory mission”.
The Minister congratulated the three Challenge finalists, highlighting their “unrelenting drive to break the status quo” and accept the opportunity to take their businesses to the next level.
Chief Executive Officer of Export Barbados, Mark Hill, noting that Export Barbados is focused on becoming the most innovative export development agency globally, said the Challenges are geared at stimulating an innovative culture across the ocean, bio and design economies.
“This particular challenge is very critical because it taps that key market, the oceans, which currently contributes less than US$1 million to our exports and we want to see that grow significantly. The only way for that to grow is through new innovations, new products that we can put into our export market,” CEO Hill stated.
Dr. Sylvia Dohnert, Executive Director of CCPF added that they have earmarked US$4.5 million to invest in the blue economy. She said they not only offer support for entrepreneurs, but governments and blue economy clusters as well.
The Challenge proposals were assessed by the Evaluation Committee comprising Dr. Damie Sinanan, Manager, Competitiveness and Export Promotion, Caribbean Export Development Agency; Dr. Leo Brewster, Director, Coastal Zone Management Unit; Jari Aaltonen, Green Technology Cluster Manager, United Nations Industrial Development Organization, Paula Bourne, Manager of Exports, Export Barbados (BIDC), and Kyle Taylor, Owner Eco Skywater and Partner of Bridg3Point3.