On Thursday 7th July 2016, the Caribbean Industrial Research Institute (CARIRI) launched a new initiative, an Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Help Desk for Micro Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (MSMEs) called CARISupport. 

Born out of an InterAmerican Development Bank (IDB) project that CARIRI has been executing for the past four years which involved MSMEs, CARIRI saw the need to provide a service such as this.  The overall objective of the IDB project was to improve the business performance and competitiveness of small businesses in the target sectors of Food and Beverage and Printing, Plastics and Packaging initially, and was later expanded to include virtually all sectors in the country.

After working with various MSMEs over the last few years, CARIRI recognized that there was a need to offer practical support and advice to these businesses, hence the creation of this Helpdesk.

CARIRI’s CARISupport is a one of a kind helpdesk meant to provide quality ICT support to MSMEs that do not have full access to an in-house team that is skilled or experienced in ICT.  ICT can be challenging for those who do not have that expertise or the time or finances to invest in this particular area.  This is where CARISupport sees itself making a difference by providing the necessary proficiency to support these MSMEs so that they can concentrate on growing their businesses by using technology. 

In a global economy, the only way to effectively compete is to use the technology that is available to extend your brand nationally, regionally and internationally.  CARIRI believes that the MSMEs in the country have a lot of potential to reach a larger audience with the proper use of ICT.     

CARISupport is an outsourced facility that will provide unlimited support with quarterly maintenance checks and on-call services for MSMEs that recognize the importance of staying up to date with the latest technologies or for those businesses that just need the support of experts but do not necessarily want to hire full time staff. 

An integral part of CARIRI’s mandate is to enhance business capability and competitiveness by providing a range of technical and technology-based support services to a number of organizations. 

CARISupport offers a flexible subscription to MSMEs, and some of the features include: ICT support (telesupport), callouts where the CARIRI staff would visit to determine the issue if it cannot be solved remotely and a live chat to help you with your issues. 

There are various packages that are being offered so that the MSME can pick the one that is most convenient and affordable to them. 

CARISupport is Your IT Solution Provider, contact us today at 299-0209 ext 2680 or email us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and find out how we can help you grow your business with ICT. 

CARISUPPORT-Flyer-Draft-07

Date: Wednesday 1st June 2016

Venue: CARIRI’s Centre for Enterprise Development (CED), Innovation Avenue, Freeport

The Caribbean Industrial Research Institute’s (CARIRI’s) Air Quality Management Services (AQMS) unit in collaboration with the Ministry of Health recently hosted an information session entitled, “Let CARIRI help you clear the air” at CARIRI’s Centre for Enterprise Development, Innovation Avenue, Freeport as part of their mandate to promote a safe and healthy working environment.  The launch was well attended by over 100 Health and Safety Professionals throughout the country as well as the Honourable Minister of Health, Mr. Terrence Deyalsingh who gave the feature address

In his speech, Mr. Deyalsingh educated the audience on the hazards of poor indoor air quality stating, “Our indoor environment can be 2-5 times more toxic than our outdoor environment based on everyday office items such as computers and copiers.” He also discussed a familiar term “Sick building syndrome” which the audience agreed is a big deterrent to productivity.

The Minister also highlighted the relationship between chronic Non-Communicable Diseases (NCD’s) and poor IAQ which poses health risks such as Stroke, Ischaemic heart disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and lung cancer.  He emphasized the importance of information in the fight against poor air pollution and its health effect and the need for a multi sector approach. The Minister closed off his speech by stating “CARIRI is one of the best kept secrets in the nation with a prominent role in strengthening awareness and support in the fight against poor indoor air quality.”

CARIRI’s Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Liaquat Ali Shah in his opening remarks welcomed everyone to CARIRI’s Centre for Enterprise Development which he described as a national innovation hub and technology transfer centre which is the only one of its kind in the Caribbean.  He went on to say, “We all need air to breathe therefore we are all affected by poor indoor air quality.” Mr. Shah stated that though indoor air quality in buildings was highly publicized in the media, individuals do not fully understand the effects air pollution can have on your health, work life and mental performance which in turn affects productivity.

He went on to describe CARIRI’s AQMS department as experts with extensive experience as evidenced by the completion of one thousand (1000) jobs with over 50 done regionally over a ten year period. He ended his speech with this profound statement on ascertaining the root cause of IAQ, “Better is not always about doing more, but identifying the risk.”

Participants also gained insights from CARIRI's expert team who are Council-Certified Environmental Consultants accredited by the American Council of Accredited Certification (ACAC) and the Council of Engineering and Scientific Specialty Boards (CESB) which is the most prestigious certification specific to Indoor Air Quality.

Mrs. Tisha John, Environmental Specialist and Head of CARIRI’s Indoor Air Quality Department presented on some of the effects and causes of poor IAQ which she attributed to common indoor contaminants such as dust, fibreglass, indoor allergens such as dust mites from carpet and fabric furniture and even ozone from photocopiers. She went on to explain volatile organic compounds (VOC’s) which are a large group of carbon-based chemicals that easily evaporate at room temperature. These are particularly dangerous as they are found in workplace cleansers, pesticides, disinfectants, glues and even paints.

Mrs. John advised the HR persons and also the HSE officers to keep an eye out for prevalent cases of skin rashes, dryness and irritation of eyes, nose, throat and skin, headaches, fatigue, dizziness and nausea and sinus congestion as these are common symptoms of poor IAQ. She closed off her presentation summarizing some of the common causes of issues associated with poor IAQ which include improperly maintained HVAC’s, contamination by construction materials, continuous re-circulation of air inside buildings and lastly increases in the number of building occupants 

The next presenter, Mr. Tricia Singh, Laboratory Manager of CARIRI gave a riveting presentation on, “How mold can affect you.” She started the presentation with this interesting fact, “The human body can go approximately three weeks without food, one week without water but only 3 minutes without air!” She describes mold as the most misunderstood and controversial topic of all indoor air quality parameters which includes mold spores, bacteria, yeast and viruses.

Ms. Singh also went on to specify three main factors influencing growth of mold indoors which include:

  • The availability of a food source e.g. organic and cellulose based materials such as ceiling tiles, leather, fabric and even accumulation of dust and garbage from lack of proper housekeeping,
  • Temperature as mold grows optimally within the range of 10-40 oC since this coincides with the temperature of most indoor environments
  • Availability of moisture is the most critical factor. Sources of moisture include infiltration of moisture from outdoors such as roof leaks, flooding and win driven rain. Indoor sources such as leaking plumage and sewage spills can also contribute to moisture.

Ms. Singh closed off by saying air contamination is not the only cause for feelings of discomfort and illness and may be related to issues in the total indoor environment such as noise levels, thermal comfort (temperature, humidity and air movement), lighting and ergonomics which she explained CARIRI has the capability to test.

CARIRI’s capabilities were expounded by Mr. Rishi Shaffie, Environmental Technologist of CARIRI who describes the Air Quality Management Unit as a multi-disciplinary team with extensive experience and a wide range of skills to meet the needs of the Client. Some of the services offered by CARIRI in the area of Indoor Air Quality include but are not limited to:

  • IAQ Testing & assessments
  • Ventilation systems inspections
  • Microbial IAQ testing
  • Noise surveys
  • Occupational health risk assessment
  • Sick building syndrome surveys

Basically, the department can monitor for any occupational hygiene exposure (noise, heat stress, gases, particulates, vibration, lighting, and ergonomics) and compare results to international and local standards and guidelines.   

The session also included a riveting panel discussion which featured Mr. David Abdulah, Political Leader, Movement for Social Justice giving a union perspective, Mr. Terence Seemungal, President, Thoracic Society of Trinidad and Tobago giving a medical perspective and Mrs. Denise Ferguson, Human Resources Officer, CARIRI giving an HR perspective as it relates to issues of IAQ.

Mr. Abdulah made a suggestion that though the session undertaken by CARIRI was informative and a step in the right direction, more needs to be done through targeted information via various media specifically the air conditions firms and even insurance companies who he believed would benefit most.

Professor Seemungal answered several questions posed by audience members on occupational Asthma and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) which are lung diseases that make it difficult to breathe. From his experience in Trinidad over the last 13 years he believes there is a rise in lung related disease and a few instances which could be linked to exposure from the workplace.

Mrs. Ferguson gave invaluable insights into how employees can make a difference by increasing communication between departments and documenting workplace illnesses in real time. This collection of data can then be analyzed by management to assess troubled areas within organizations and can also be used for trend analysis.

CARIRI and CED continues to remind the public about its diversity and innovation not only in scientific research but also entrepreneurial development for example the Business Hatchery program and the IAS (Idea Advisory Service) just to name a few. CARIRI is not only about general research rather it is about applied research.

For more information on our Indoor Air Quality Department you can contact them at:

Air Quality Management Services (AQMS)
Trincity West Industrial Estate,
Macoya,
Tel: (868) 285-5050 ext. 3300
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Before the programme, the Honourable Terrence Deyalsingh, Minister of Health, toured the Centre for Enterprise Development alongside Mr. Liaquat Ali Shah, CEO, CARIRI and the media where he saw CARIRI’s Technology Bays in operations, Business Hatchery, Idea Advisory Service (IAS), Tekmania, 3D printing lab and Microsoft Innovation Centre.

1

The Honourable Terrence Deyalsingh, Minister of Health during his Feature Address

2

Side-shot of attendees at CARIRI’s Air Quality Session

3

CARIRI’s CEO Mr. Liaquat Ali Shah explaining the value added products of CARIRI’s technology bays to The Honourable Terrence Deyalsingh, Minister of Health

4

Our esteemed panelists from (L-R) are Mr. Terence Seemungal, President, Thoracic Society of Trinidad and Tobago, Mrs. Denise Ferguson, Human Resources Officer, CARIRI and Mr. David Abdulah, Political Leader, Movement for Social Justice 

As part of its ongoing efforts to build capacity in ICT, the Institute, in collaboration with some of its valuable partners like the Chaguanas Chamber of Industry and Commerce hosted a session on Wednesday 25th May 2016 that highlighted the need to utilize ICT in the ‘new’ economy.  This session showcased software that can be accessed by many Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in the country.    

CARIRI recognizes ICT critical areas of deficiency at the micro-economic level such as technological readiness, business sophistication, innovation and the relative underutilization of ICT by the business sector. Because of this, an InterAmerican Development Bank project was launched with the aim of improving performance of SMEs through the application of ICT a few years ago and thus far, with CARIRI as the executing arm of this project, was able to reach over 450 SMEs in a variety of sectors.

CARIRI understands the potential of the non-energy manufacturing and services sector which are dominant within the country and significantly contribute substantially to economic growth and development. As part of our mandate we build technological capability and enhance operational efficiency among SMEs through secured financial support from the Inter-American Development Bank’s Multilateral Investment Fund (MIF).  Some of these include Electronic Health Record software called CARIMed as well as CARIRI’s Point of Sales Software, these are just two examples of what CARIRI has been doing in the field of ICT over the last couple of years. 

At the session entitled ‘Moving into the Future with ICT’, Chief Executive Officer of CARIRI, Mr Liaquat Ali Shah said “small businesses are very important to most economies generating significant wealth and employment.  Competitiveness and innovation go hand in hand, for companies to grow and to continue to be successful, innovation is critical.  There is the ever pressing need for relevant stakeholders to understand innovation in small businesses particularly in terms of ICT implementation and use in order to plan how to survive in today’s economic climate and to expand in the future.’

Ms Vashtie Dookiesingh, Multilateral Investment Fund Specialist at the InterAmerican Bank commended CARIRI on a job well done as the executing agent of the project. She stated that the overall objective of the project was to improve the business performance and competitiveness of businesses in the target sectors, which was expanded to include virtually all sectors in the country and that CARIRI had done an impressive job thus far by reaching out to the companies with potential for ICT implementation. 

Mr Richie Sookhai, President of the Chagaunas Chamber of Industry and Commerce also gave some remarks to the audience gathered at the Centre for Enterprise Development, Freeport.  Mr Sookhai, also a business owner, also spoke about how ICT can be utilized to ensure that businesses succeed in a global environment.  He also spoke about the use of technology in the fight against crime and asked some very pertinent questions about how effective we are at using the data that is available. 

At the session, members of the audience were treated to the new software built in-house at CARIRI to satisfy the demand for more personalized software.  A very active question and answer segment took place as members of the audience, many of them small business owners, had numerous questions for the team. 

At the end of the programme, the audience was invited to sign up for a free diagnostic, in which the team would go in to the business and determine what ICT tools would be able to assist the business to operate more efficiently and they would suggest implementations which normally range from social media to accounting systems to inventory management systems depending on the needs of the business.   

ccic1

L-R: Mr Liaquat Ali Shah, CEO of CARIRI, Mr Richie Sookhai, President of the Chaguanas Chamber of Industry and Commerce, His Worship the Mayor of Chaguanas, Mr Gopaul Boodhan, Mr Vishnu Charran, Board member of Chaguanas Chamber of Industry and Commerce

ccic2

Ms Vashtie Dookiesingh, Multilateral Investment Fund Specialist at the InterAmerican Development Bank giving her remarks about the job that CARIRI has been doing over the last few years in the field of ICT

For more information, please email us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call us at 299-0210 ext 5048

On Thursday 21st April 2016, CARIRI’s mCentre hosted 15 competitors who were all vying for the chance to be the local representative in a regional app competition to be held in Jamaica later this year, called the Caribbean Mobile Innovation Project.  Held at the Centre for Enterprise Development in Freeport, this one-day competition, CODESprint 2016, allowed competitors to showcase and highlight their apps. 

CodeSPRINT 2016 was hosted by PitchIT Caribbean and CARIRI’s mCentre and is a mobile application development competition geared towards bringing together developers, subject matter experts, and idea generators all in one venue for the purpose of developing and promoting mobile applications.

From as early as 10am, competitors started their presentations and each was just as impressive as the last.  The judges consisted of a Microsoft representative, an Appreneur and two CARIRI staff members, and they were able to question each competitor on their app and were able to provide valuable feedback going forward.

The competition was intense and highlighted how many undiscovered apps are out there waiting to get their chance in the spotlight. 

Winners of the competition were as follows:

  • First place - Stephan James – Wanderscape (a new and exciting travel marketplace and mobile app where you can discover, share & book activities by local insiders.)
  • Second place - Keenen Charles - Tap Tag
  • Third Place - Raees Rahim - Trini Questions : Trivia
  • Most innovative app - Devin Escallier - Numgical
  • Best Designed App- Raees Rahim - Trini Questions: Trivia
  • The Microsoft Imagine Award:  Corporates- Jeremiah Cruickshank

PitchIT Caribbean, under the remit of the Caribbean Mobile Innovation Project (CMIP), is a two-tiered partnership approach to support growth-oriented mobile app businesses in the Caribbean.

Administered by a University of the West Indies (UWI) Consortium led by UWI Consulting Inc. and also comprising the Mona School of Business and Management (MSBM) and the Mona Business Support Services (MBSS), PitchIT Caribbean is a part of the Entrepreneurship programme for Innovation in the Caribbean (EPIC), funded by the Government of Canada and executed by InfoDev/World Bank, spanning 14 Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries.

PItchIT Caribbean is designed to strengthen the Caribbean mobile innovation ecosystem and enable sustainable and competitive mobile enterprises to grow through activities that will target early stage innovators and guide them to market readiness.

The aim is for the creation of a regional pool of high-growth potential mobile start-ups with the capacity to release their apps to the market and raise additional capital to grow.

The mHub partners of PitchIT Caribbean are all focused on building mobile innovation communities in the various CARICOM countries by convening a variety of local stakeholder groups.

The mHub partners of PitchIT Caribbean are:

  1. Barbados - BCSI Barbados Coalition of Service Industries.
  2. Trinidad – The Caribbean Industrial Research Institute.
  3. Dominica - National Telecommunications Regulatory Commission.
  4. St. Kitts and Nevis

cs1

 

Cross section of audience 

cs2

First place - Stephan James - Wanderscape