Business

Gov't to invest over $1B in promoting investment in local research

BY BALFORD HENRY
Senior staff reporter
balfordh@jamaicaobserver.com

Friday, July 12, 2019

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The g overnment is injecting well over $1 billion into the economy to encourage entrepreneurs to utilise the product of local research, Minister of Finance and the Public Service Dr Nigel Clarke said Wednesday.

Dr Clarke, who was speaking at the Mona School of Business and Management's (MSBM) 4th Business and Management Conference at the Jamaica Pegasus, New Kingston, said that the government has been working with the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) to build the capacity to commercialise the results of research done at local educational institutions, including the University of the West Indies (UWI).

“In all countries that thrive on entrepreneurship, there is a great degree of innovation that comes from research institutions,” Clarke stated, noting that of 25 patents owned by the UWI, about 20 are from the Mona Campus in Kingston.

“The question is how many of these have been commercialised and have they made money? That is the question,” Clarke noted.

“It is one thing to have the brain power and the tenacity, but not being able to commercialise that research. And that is an element that we need to work on, if we are going to realise our full potential,” he added.

He stated that as a result of the need for funding to put the research into the development of the local economy, the government has been working with the IDB, in terms of assistance with the technical resources that are needed, as well as funding to build the capacity for commercialisation.

“We are in the process of negotiating that now. I hope that before too long it is something that we can launch and, as I have said, a key component will be to enhance our ability to commercialise the research,” he said.

He pointed out that some $200 million has been made available in the current budget, as part of an IDB “dollar for dollar” partnership facility which will share the financing with investors who are interested in using locally developed research material.

He said that an increase in the Government's allocation through the Development Bank of Jamaica (DBJ), and other intermediaries, to fund small and medium-sized business, as well as an increase in the credit support available to local businesses from $250 million to $600 million this financial year, will be available to investors who are willing to develop the materials produced by local researchers.

In addition, the minister said that some $500 million has been dedicated to companies with sales of under $10 million per annum, while a critical World Bank Foundations of Competitiveness and Growth project budget of some $263 million to help build the entrepreneurial ecosystem will ensure financing support for the effort.

“So we are putting our money where our mouth is, and that is the new Jamaica that is emerging,” Dr Clarke told the audience which included leading private sector leaders, the president of the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ) Howard Mitchell and Small Business Association of Jamaica (SBAJ) President Hugh Johnson.

He added that it was evidence that the government has been conducting its affairs in a fiscally responsible way, to ensure that the country's debt trajectory remains sustainable while business is being allowed to thrive.

The event was the highlight of the MSBM's annual conference, which has as its theme “Delivering on the Promise of Entrepreneurship” (Critical Perspectives on research, Practice and Thinking in the Fourth Economy).

Guests were welcomed by the executive director of the MSBM, Dr David McBean. It was chaired by the school's executive in residence, James Moss-Solomon. Other speakers were Dr Indianna Minto-Coy, chairs of the conference who gave an overview; and the managing director of the DBJ Milverton Reynolds.

The conference ends today, July 12.


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