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Caribbean Climate Innovation Centre – Leading the Regional Response to Climate Change

Since its inception in 2014, the Caribbean Climate Innovation Centre (CCIC) programme has been leading the way in developing a regionally integrated approach to solving the Caribbean’s climate, energy, and resource challenges.

The CCIC programme aims to assist Caribbean island states to adapt to and mitigate the impact of climate change by empowering each territory to create clean technologies and businesses, and strengthening several critical areas.

Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Everton Hanson, tells JIS News that the Centre is taking an entrepreneurship approach to addressing the issues.

“The purpose of this project is to build an entrepreneurial ecosystem that will foster growth-oriented entrepreneurs and profitable businesses that address climate change mitigation and adaptation,” he says.

The CCIC, which was established as a Consortium, is jointly managed by two of the Caribbean’s foremost scientific institutions – the Scientific Research Council (SRC), based in Jamaica, and the Caribbean Industrial Research Institute (CARIRI) situated in Trinidad and Tobago.

Both islands have active CCIC programmes and function as the project’s primary ‘country hubs’. These hubs are responsible for administering financing, management, and support service delivery regionally.

Locally, the CCIC project is housed at the offices of the SRC located at Hope Gardens in Kingston.

The programme, which emphasizes the need for a unified response to developing climate change solutions, has 12 established country hubs in several other Caribbean Community (CARICOM) states: Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Montserrat, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and Suriname.

The CCIC model was developed in collaboration with local stakeholders and addresses the gaps across five priority areas: solar energy, water management, sustainable agribusiness, resource use and efficiency, and energy efficiency.

The CCIC also offers services that assist entrepreneurs in developing business models for their products and services. Among these are technology commercialization; market development; mentoring and training; networking, as well as business incubation support, and identifying and developing local, regional and international market opportunities.

A key feature of the programme is that it facilitates the testing and prototyping of proposed innovations, and provides technical support and information on contemporary green technology.

So far the bold initiative has met with success, instituting innovative activities in its goal of supporting companies from the nascent stage to an advanced stage of development. This has been accomplished through the staging of boot camps and accelerator programmes, among other activities.

One of its more notable programmes, the Proof of Concept (PoC) competition held in 2015, invites innovators to present designs and concepts for products which can be transformed into viable businesses.

Over 300 innovators from 13 Caribbean countries applied for grant funding through the competition, with 11 winners were selected from the pool of applicants.

The successful participants, who were awarded grants ranging from US$10,000 to $50,000, came from Jamaica, Antigua and Barbuda, St. Kitts and Nevis, Dominica, St. Lucia, and Belize.

Additionally, the PoC winners benefitted from several capacity building exercises facilitated by CCIC and CARIRI, including mentorship, training and technical assistance in business incubator activities.

The CCIC in Jamaica recently hosted the Caribbean Green Tech Start up Boot camp, which ran from February 26 to 28. Over 70 innovators and entrepreneurs from across the Caribbean participated in the interactive three-day workshop, which challenged them to refine their concepts, transforming them into viable, sustainable businesses.

Executive Director of the SRC, Dr. Cliff Riley, points out that with the project is an important initiative as it directly addresses problems associated with climate change while stimulating economic development.

“It is a project for the entire region to build capacity and to ensure that innovative ideas and products can be translated into viable businesses,” he notes.

The programme was developed under the World Bank’s global partnership development programme, InfoDev, and is being implemented under its Climate Technology Program (CTP).

The Caribbean component of the Climate Innovation Centre (CIC) is one of seven CICs established across the world. Other Countries with CICs are Kenya, Ethiopia, South Africa, Vietnam, Morocco, and Ghana.

The CCIC programme is one of three components of the World Bank/InfoDev Entrepreneurship Programme for Innovation in the Caribbean (EPIC) and is funded by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA).

Credit: Jamaica Information Service

Indoor Mini-Farms to Beat Climate Change

Industrial engineer Ancel Bhagwandeen says growing your food indoor is a great way to protect crops from the stresses of climate change. So he developed a hydroponic system that “leverages the nanoclimates in houses so that the house effectively protects the produce the same way it protects us,” he says.

Bhagwandeen told IPS that his hydroponic project was also developed “to leverage the growth of the urban landscape and high-density housing, so that by growing your own food at home, you mitigate the cost of food prices.”

The hydroponic unit can also run on solar energy. Credit: Jewel Fraser/IPS

The hydroponic unit can also run on solar energy. Credit: Jewel Fraser/IPS

Hydroponics, a method of growing plants without soil using mineral nutrients in water, is increasingly considered a viable means to ensure food security in light of climate change.

His project is one of several being considered for further development by the Caribbean Climate Innovation Centre (CCIC), headquartered in Jamaica.

The newly launched CCIC, which is funded mainly by the World Bank and the government of Canada, seeks to  fund innovative projects that will “change the way we live, work and build to suit a changing climate,” said Everton Hanson, the CCIC’s CEO.

Dr. Ulric Trotz, Deputy Director and Science Advisor at the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre, 
chairs the CCIC's Management Committee.

A first step to developing such projects is through Proof of Concept (POC) funding, which makes available grants from 25,000 to 50,000 dollars to successful applicants to “help the entrepreneur to finance those costs that are related to proving that the idea can work,” said Hanson.

Among the items that POC funding will cover are prototype development such as design, testing, and field trials; market testing; raw materials and consumables necessary to achieve proof of concept; and costs related to applications for intellectual property rights in the Caribbean.

A POC competition is now open that will run until the end of March. “After that date the applications will be evaluated. We are looking for ideas that can be commercialised and the plan is to select the best ideas,” Hanson said.

The CCIC, which is jointly managed by the Scientific Research Council in Jamaica and the Caribbean Industrial Research Institute in Trinidad and Tobago, is seeking projects that focus on water management, resource use efficiency, energy efficiency, solar energy, and sustainable agribusiness.

Bhagwandeen entered the POC competition in hopes of securing a grant, because “this POC funding would help in terms of market testing,” he explained.

The 48-year-old engineer says he wishes to build dozens of model units and “distribute them in various areas, then monitor the operations and take feedback from users.” He said he would be testing for usability and reliability, as well as looking for feedback on just how much light is needed and the best locations in a house or building for situating his model.

“I would then take the feedback, and any issues that come up I can refine before going into mass marketing,” he said.

Bhagwandeen’s model would enable homeowners to grow leafy vegetables, including herbs, lettuce and tomatoes, inside their home or apartment, with minimal expense and time.

The model uses smart electronics, meaning that 100 units can run on the same energy as a 60-watt light bulb, he said. So it differs from typical hydroponics systems that consume a great deal of energy, he added. His model can also run on the energy provided by its own small solar panel and can work both indoors and outdoors.

Bhagawandeen said his model’s design is premised on the fact that “our future as a people is based more and more on city living and in order for that to be sustainable, we need to have city farming at a family level.”

U.N. report says that “the population living in urban areas is projected to gain 2.6 billion, passing from 3.6 billion in 2011 to 6.3 billion in 2050.” Most of that urban growth will be concentrated in the cities and towns of the world’s less developed regions.

To meet the challenges of climate change adaptation, the CCIC “will support Caribbean entrepreneurs involved in developing locally appropriate solutions to climate change.”

Bhagwandeen said that support from organisations like the CCIC is critical for climate change entrepreneurs. “From the Caribbean perspective, especially Trinidad and Tobago, we are a heavily consumer-focused society. One of the negatives of Trinidad’s oil wealth is that we are not accustomed to developing technology for ourselves. We buy it.”

“We are a society of traders and distributors and there is very little support for innovators and entrepreneurs.”

He said access to markets and investors poses a serious challenge for regional innovators like himself, who typically have to rely on bootstrapping to get their business off the ground.

Typically, he said, regional innovators have to make small quantities of an item, sell those items, and then use the funds to make incrementally larger quantities. “So that if you get an order for 500 units, you cannot fulfill that order,” he said.

Fourteen Caribbean states are involved in CCIC: Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Montserrat, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago.

The Caribbean CCIC is one of eight being developed across the world.

Credit: Inter Press Services News Agency
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