by Tassia Stewart on Monday, April 25, 2016
Ten (10) representatives from six (6) Caribbean countries returned to the region on Sunday, April 24, 2016, following a seven-day study tour of Orlando, Florida and Toronto, Ontario two of the world’s leading innovation hubs.
Organized by infoDev’s (World Bank Group) Accelerate Caribbean project and funded by the government of Canada, the study tour was designed to enhance the participants’ knowledge on how North America creates ‘innovation spaces’ and streamlines professional support services for entrepreneurs to promote social change and economic growth.
Collaborators for the study tour include lead project implementer, IMC Worldwide, Koltai & Company, University of the West Indies Consulting and The Barbados Coalition of Service Industries (BCSI). The delegation was led by the Accelerate Caribbean team and comprised of international business incubation experts and mentors. It also included the following incubators from the region:
- Startup Jamaica
- Caribbean Mobile Innovation Programme (CMIP)
- National Integrated Business Incubator System (IBIS), Trinidad
- The Belize Trade and Investment Development Service (BELTRAIDE)
- Grenada Small Business Incubator, Grenada
- St. Vincent and The Grenadines National Center of Technological Innovation Inc (SVGNCTI)
- Caribbean Industrial Research Institute (CARIRI)’s Center for Enterprise Development, Trinidad
- GeoTechVision, Guyana.
Ms Sophia Muradyan, Coordinator for the Entrepreneurship Program for Innovation in the Caribbean, EPICsaid, “This study tour provides participants with an opportunity to see first-hand how global leaders in the field of business incubation operate. It will also expand their network of contacts abroad. We are really excited to facilitate this in-person exchange of experience between innovators in North America and those in the Caribbean. The invited persons have demonstrated strong commitment to advancing the development of small business support in the Caribbean and we are optimistic that direct exposure of our business incubation professionals to international best practices, will translate to higher survival rates for startups across the region”
The study tour kicked off with the International Business Innovation Association (InBIA) Conference in Orlando, Florida, where Accelerate Caribbean is hosted a panel on business incubation in the Caribbean. The Orlando leg also included a meeting with a top U.S. entrepreneur, a visit to the business incubator at the University of Central Florida and a tour of Florida’s National Entrepreneurship Centre (NEC).
The delegation then moved on to Toronto on Wednesday, April 20, 2016, where they toured VentureLAB, SKETCH and North America’s leading university business incubator, the DMZ at Ryerson University.
The mission also hosted an event titled “Caribbean Diaspora Rum Punch Hour,” which presented a unique opportunity for engagement between Caribbean-based incubator managers/business enablers and Toronto-based entrepreneurs, members of the Caribbean Diaspora and investors. The social event was aimed at facilitating networking and allowing participants to maximize the opportunity to understand the success stories in order to successfully replicate them in their respective countries.
ABOUT Accelerate Caribbean
Accelerate Caribbean is a training program designed by InfoDev/World Bank as part of its Entrepreneurship Program for Innovation in the Caribbean (EPIC). EPIC is a seven year $20M program funded by the Government of Canada that seeks to build an enabling ecosystem to foster high-growth and sustainable enterprises throughout the Caribbean. The project is implemented by IMC Worldwide Ltd (IMC) in partnership with Koltai & Company, UWI Consulting, and the Barbados Coalition of Service Industries (BCSI). The focus of the Accelerate Caribbean project is to increase the capacity of business enablers (incubators) to innovate and scale-up their service offering to entrepreneurs.