of Commerce and Trade, Senator Haynesley Benn, addressing the launch. At left is Senior Technical Officer with the NCST, Charles Cyrus. (N.Hutchinson/BGIS)????

The use of a local grass in the furniture industry and an engine knock detection monitor were just two of the contributions to last year’s National Innovation Competition; and this year, the National Council for Science and Technology (NCST) is looking forward to another series of inventions from the creative minds on the island.

Launched today at the 3Ws Oval, University of the West Indies, Cave Hill, the Competition, now in its fifth year, provides innovators with a prime opportunity to take their ideas to the next level.??

In his opening remarks at the event, Minister of Commerce and Trade, Senator Haynesley Benn, asserted that in these modern times, innovation was crucial for survival and prosperity and often signalled a society that was progressive and less afraid of failure.

"Four important features stand out in an innovative society.?? Firstly, it must build and sustain social, legal and economic structures and processes that support innovation…Secondly, it must ensure that its members develop and continually update the knowledge…and skills that are required to produce innovative products and services…Thirdly, it must nourish and support the effective potential of its members…Fourthly, it must build and sustain relationships within itself and with other societies that enable it to interact productively….

"We must not lose sight of the fact that innovation is generated and sustained by people, it comes from inside…We as a people must internalise and buy into this vital thrust to promote innovation throughout our society," the Minister emphasised.

Giving some insight into the competition, Senior Technical Officer with the NCST, Charles Cyrus noted: ??"This competition has been designed to be a catalyst for innovation in Barbados by encouraging members of the general public to submit creative product or service ideas or even methods which they wish to commercialise.?? The focus of the competition is to promote and reward innovation."

In terms of the stages involved and what was expected from entrants, he explained:?? "This competition will be divided into three stages.?? The first stage, which begins today, will see participants registering their ideas for the competition. The second step in phase one requires participants to create a two-page summary explaining the idea and describing and demonstrating its innovativeness, while showing the potential benefits to the market and the feasibility of implementing the idea.????

"The process must be completed by 30th September, 2011. After the preliminary judging process, 10 entries will be selected from the applicants…this group will be narrowed to five in phase 2.?? The five finalists will be provided with technical assistance to create a business plan for their ideas…and finally the contenders will formally present their ideas to a panel of judges." ??He further noted that, with this final stage of the competition to take place in February 2012, the winner would be announced in March.??

The top prize will be the Prime Minister’s Award for Innovation and $75 000 to be used to develop the winning concept. Second and third place winners will also be awarded funding for their efforts, and Mr. Cyrus made a call for support from viable entities to contribute to these awards.

For more information on the National Innovation Competition, contact the NCST at 427-5270.??


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