Barbados – Sun, Sea, Sand and Innovation

Despite the economic gloom being experienced all around the globe, there is often an accompanying explosion of innovation and entrepreneurial endeavour that may be undetectable until there is a major press release or a news flash. This is as true now as it was during the previous economic crashes when weaker competitors, lower costs, and […]

By Professor Chris Hillier

March 5, 2014

Despite the economic gloom being experienced all around the globe, there is often an accompanying explosion of innovation and entrepreneurial endeavour that may be undetectable until there is a major press release or a news flash. This is as true now as it was during the previous economic crashes when weaker competitors, lower costs, and the necessity for better cash management makes for better new companies. In fact, many major companies, (e.g. Cisco, during the crash of 1987, and Facebook, during the dot-com crash) have been born out of the conditions that a recession creates.

So, it shouldn’t be too much of a surprise that Barbados has also been busy creating embryonic technology and service companies to challenge the status quo, leveraging its many unique advantages that you will read more about in this publication.

For instance, it is highly appropriate in an island rich in marine and terrestrial life that TerraMar Inc. a new spin-out of the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus, is one of these. TerraMar’s vision is to be one of the world’s foremost developers of new biological products derived from the plants and organisms that are all around us. These include novel medicines, nutritional supplements and even new forms of fuel.

Another start-up still in its first year, but already boasting customers in the UK as well as in Barbados, is 4R Inc, a company focused on improving the well-being of the world’s population by reinventing the way businesses approach problem-solving. Using advanced technological and analytical approaches they save companies time and money by providing them with solutions to complex analytical problems in the same way Google answers textual problems. If they are successful then the days of using expensive consultants or purchasing expensive, generic, industry Reports are over.

The recent 2013 Global Innovation Index compiled by the World Intellectual Property Organization; Cornell University; and INSEAD; places Barbados remarkably as 3rd in Latin America and the Caribbean, and 47th in the list of the world’s most innovative countries. This is clearly reflected in the depth of new ideas being explored here and in the ambition of our entrepreneurs, from harvesting giant African snails for cosmetics, to creating the latest form of renewable energy products, from using social media to improve agriculture, to creating new business models for world-class sports events. Barbados is not just sun, sea, and sand but a whole lot more.

Professor Chris Hillier

Professor Chris Hillier is the Technology Transfer and Innovation Co-ordinator at the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus, Barbados.