On Wednesday 3rd May at its flagship hub for innovation, the Centre for Enterprise Development in Freeport, the Caribbean Industrial Research Institute (CARIRI) launched one of its newest services for Innovation called the ‘Innovation Gap Analysis Programme’ (IGAP) which is aimed at fostering and encouraging innovation in Small and Medium sized Enterprises (SMEs).
Innovation is ‘Creativity Being Implemented’; this is CARIRI’s own definition and something that the Institute has continually been seeking new opportunities and avenues to encourage innovative thinking. As part of its ongoing thrust to build capacity for Innovation on a national scale, and thereby contribute more substantively to the achievement of Government's national goal of economic diversification, CARIRI has initiated the implementation of this programme.
IGAP is modeled along the lines of the Danish Technological Institute's (DTI's) Innovation Agent Programme (IAP) and is being implemented at CARIRI with consultancy support from the DTI, under a Collaboration Agreement between the Institutes.
This relationship with the DTI was formed due to CARIRI’s association and membership in the World Association of Industrial and Technological Research Organizations (WAITRO). There are over 150 members of WAITRO from around the world and CARIRI has been searching for partnerships that will benefit the country and the region, and this is just one of them.
The IGAP programme is intended to identify and engage potential innovations in existing companies and will also address the need to develop a culture of Innovation in private sector enterprises, particularly SMEs, based on the recognition that SMEs are particularly vulnerable to the rapidly changing dynamics of the international economic environment and, to remain competitive, these enterprises must keep their value proposition current, relevant and valuable to customers.
In this context, the IGAP would provide assistance at a number of levels, including:
- Facilitating co-operation with national, regional and international knowledge and Innovation systems,
- Helping companies gain access to knowledge, for instance, about new technologies and solutions that they were not aware of before and assisting them in applying that knowledge to strengthen their business and enhance competitiveness.
- Showing companies how to generate value for their business by investing in Innovation.
- Supporting companies, particularly SMEs, in thinking "out of the box", using their imagination, and being attentive to other factors playing a vital role in Innovation processes.
- Helping companies, both large and small, in undertaking Innovation activity by actually developing pretotypes/prototypes, initiating user test of new business ideas and accelerating quickly to market.
Dr Erik Hallgren, Senior Consultant in Innovation at DTI's Centre for Ideas and Innovation, who is quite knowledgeable and experienced in Facilitation and Development of Innovation Processes in SMEs, spoke at the session and captured the imagination of the audience on the innovation process. In his presentation, Dr Hallgren encouraged people to think beyond the box and get beyond the thought that we can’t compete with countries like China. He stressed that people in this country were very innovative and he had seen and heard of many ideas that, if commercialised, could become major players in the European market. He took the audience through the Danish innovation process and then attempted to show the linkage to T&T in the current economic environment. He then went on to further expound on the way forward for the programme and how we can use the IGAP as an essential tool in developing the innovation eco-system in private sector enterprises.
Chief Executive Officer of CARIRI, Mr Liaquat Ali Shah urged the audience to incorporate innovation in their daily lives and to not just treat the word innovation as another fad but to understand how it can catapult an SME into the global arena. Mr Shah has been an advocate of innovation and what can be achieved when this concept is applied. It is with this thinking that many of the SMEs that attended the session were able to sign up for a complimentary IGAP visit to their organization to start the process of implementing an innovative culture into their processes.
At CARIRI our flagship development known as the Centre for Enterprise Development (CED) is aimed at facilitating not only Research, Development and Innovation capacity building but also the fostering of business creation and expansion through the use of ICT. Through this medium, the Centre can potentially enhance CARIRI’s contribution to Government’s enunciated goals of economic transformation, employment and income generation and the achievement of sustainable development.
On Friday 10th February 2017 one of our more prominent entrepreneurs Mr. Brian Benoit launched his book and interactive website Panimation- Legends of Panerica that utilizes Steel Pan characters to tell stories of the Steel Pan evolution. The Steel Pan is the most revered instrument in our twin islands as it holds a treasured place in our culture, society and history. Its rhythm is synonymous with our Carnival spirit in Panorama and greatly impacts Trinbagonian culture.
CARIRI's first encounter with Brian would have been through the Idea to Innovation Programme in 2014 where CARIRI's role was to provide ongoing technical, procurement and project monitoring support toward the year long journey to proof of concept for Brian's Panimation project. During this period, illustrations of the characters, storyboard and the script for the first episode were completed for the animated series, as well as, a 30 second trailer. While proof of concept was achieved, the question still remained, how will Panimation reach the market? The projected production cost for the pilot episode was not financially feasible for Brian and his team. The project was stuck at this point and there was uncertainty in Brian's mind as how to move forward.
In May 2016, Brian submitted his project via CARIRI's Idea Advisory Service (IAS) platform and now nine months later; his product is ready for the market. It was established that based on market research that the more practical initial next step would be to develop and launch a storybook with an interactive website.
CARIRI has recognized that there are many persons like Brian with innovative ideas but simply do not know how to take their ideas forward. CARIRI has also recognized that many great ideas are not commercialized because of a disconnect between the idea, what the market wants and how the product or service is evaluated by the market. The Idea Advisory Service provides a platform where anyone (regardless of age, religion, job status, etc) can submit their ideas and we work with them to move their ideas forward to market.
The IAS team confidentially assesses the inventor's ideas by determining novelty of the idea and provides advice on which intellectual property tool would be most relevant in securing the idea. In this regard, we work very closely with our Intellectual property office. In the case of Panimation, the pan characters used in the storybook and interactive website were trademarked.
The IAS Team evaluates market demand and identifies and strengthens the benefits of the idea to the target market. For the Panimation animated series, market research was conducted with over 200 persons who indicated that it was a fantastic idea to educate children by using animation, given that the target audience is 6 - 9 year olds.
The implementation of an interactive website would provide an opportunity for children to be introduced to Steelpan in a more creative, interactive and innovative way, as well as make the Pan Academy more easily accessible digitally. With assistance from CARIRI, an interactive website and animations were developed by Lab 206,The storybook will later on be aided by a mobile application with augmented reality technology and will serve as a prequel to an animated TV series.
Through creative storytelling, the children will also be taught how to be a good friend, obey their parents and elders and the importance of education. The vision for Panimation is not only to teach about steel pan and culture but also eventually be used to teach kids basic math and language skills.
The IAS team once satisfied with the proof of business offers two pathways to commercialization either via business start-ups or licensing. In Brian’s case he chose to expand his product line of his existing business and in that regard CARIRI’s Business Incubator programme offered Brian and his team an enabling environment to benefit from our full range of business support service to aid in development and to transition his business.
Mr. Brian Benoit has found a way to embody the watchwords of CARIRI, “Innovation is Creativity being Implemented” with his local innovation Panimation- Legends of Panerica. The series is extremely appealing to youths and can enhance their interest in our National Instrument the Steel Pan. It is also very educational in nature and imparts life lessons on morals and perseverance which will serve as an inspiration for the youth of Trinidad and Tobago to become “all that they can be.” With this cultural book he shines a spot light on Steel Pan and brings it alive in many creative ways using animation.
CARIRI provides a wide range of services and facilities available to the inventors. At our Centre for Enterprise Development, Freeport we have our Microsoft Innovation Centre and MCentre to assist with app related ideas. Our 3D Printing lab provides 3D Modelling, 3D Scanning and 3D Printing services for the development of a pretotype. Our offices at St. Augustine and Macoya are equipped with product development, calibration and testing equipment needed to serve a wide range of industries. Furthermore, CARIRI has existing networks within our reach including the World Association of Industrial and Technical Research Organizations (WAITRO) of which CARIRI is a founding member.
Over the past 20 months, the IAS Team has screened 165 ideas from various sectors - household, manufacturing, entertainment, health, mobile apps, agriculture, services and we continue to work with our inventors in moving their ideas forward. As part of CARIRI's thrust to foster innovation and entrepreneurship, we are encouraging persons to submit their ideas to our Idea Advisory Service programme. There is no cost attached to the submission of ideas for screening. We know that our nation has many innovative creative minds like Brian and we ask these people to come forward.
Panimation: Legends of Panderica
Mr. Brian Benoit, Author of Panimation, Legends of Panderica
From L-R: Mr. Damian Richardson, Culture Officer, Ministry of Community Development, Culture and the Arts, Mr. Brian Benoit, Author of Panimation and Ms. Ethlyn John, Deputy Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Tourism
For more information please contact:
CARIRI’s Idea Advisory Service
Centre for Enterprise Development
Innovation Avenue, Freeport
Tel:(868) 299-0209 ext. 2210/2212