On December 21st, 2015, the Caribbean Industrial Research Institute (CARIRI) and the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) of the Ministry of the Attorney General and Legal Affairs renewed their commitment to formalize and promote collaboration between the agencies via the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding.
Held at CARIRI's Centre for Enterprise Development (CED) in Freeport, the signing of the MOU symbolizes the expressed intent of the institutions to expand and deepen collaboration in the area of Intellectual Property Rights (IPR), with particular focus on capacity building in the areas of Patent Searching/Mining, Technology Transfer, Licensing and the establishment of a Technology Transfer Office at the CED. The MOU is a direct outcome of informal collaboration between the agencies on various initiatives which have been on-going since 2013 and sets the stage for continuation and acceleration of these activities going forward.
Among the initiatives which have been the focus of CARIRI-IPO collaboration are technical and advisory assistance provided by the IPO in formulation of an Intellectual Property Policy for CARIRI, the provision of training for select CARIRI staff members in the area of Patent Mining, the provision of advisory support to CARIRI's Business Hatchery Programme and the conduct by the IPO, in partnership with CARIRI, of a free IP Clinic which is held on the first Thursday of each month at the CED and is open to interested members of the public. It is expected that these activities would continue and expand in 2016.
In his address to invitees, the Chief Executive Officer of CARIRI, Mr. Liaquat Ali Shah, emphasized the crucial role of IP in the Institute's thrust to build capacity in the area of Research, Development and Innovation (RDI) as a central plank of its strategy to foster business expansion and new business creation, with the ultimate objective of contributing more substantively to the pursuit of economic diversification. In this regard, he made reference to IP as being "the common thread that runs through the entire Research, Development and Innovation spectrum”. He further stated that “we live in a country in which awareness of IP is such that few recognize that they are creators of IP and even fewer the value of what they have created". Mr Shah felt assured that the partnership between CARIRI and the IPO could go a long way in closing this gap.
The keynote address was given by the Honourable Stuart Young, Minister in the Ministry of the Attorney General and Legal Affairs. Minister Young reiterated Mr. Shah’s sentiments in stating that “local innovators may be underestimating the value of their own creation”. He further stated that in this new knowledge-based economic dispensation, it was the actual creation, and not so much the raw material that really mattered. In drawing reference to the significant, potential businesses opportunities available from the exploitation of expired patents and those not filed locally, Minister Young indicated that he was heartened to see the work that the IPO is doing and the valuable contribution it is making towards the promotion of a knowledge economy. He noted that the volume of demand for IP education signals that we will soon get to the critical mass needed in terms of knowledge workers necessary to support this knowledge economy.
The MOU was signed by Mr. Liaquat Ali Shah of CARIRI and Ms. Lydia Jacobs, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of the Attorney General and Legal Affairs, Legal Affairs Division, and witnessed by Mr. Regan Asgarali, Controller (Ag) at the IPO.
From L – R: Mr Liaquat Ali Shah, CEO of CARIRI; Minister Stuart Young, Minister in the Ministry of the Attorney General and Legal Affairs; Ms Lydia Jacobs, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of the Attorney General and Legal Affairs, Legal Affairs Division; Mr Regan Asgarali, Controller at the IPO
Signing of the MOU- From L – R: Mr Regan Asgarali, Controller at the IPO; Ms Lydia Jacobs, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of the Attorney General and Legal Affairs, Legal Affairs Division; Mr Liaquat Ali Shah, CEO of CARIRI
In November 2015, The Caribbean Industrial Research Institute (CARIRI) and the Inter American Development Bank (IDB) hosted an ICT Sustainability Forum at the Hilton Trinidad and Conference Centre. This event was the culmination of a three year project between both entities which focused on Information and Communications Technology (ICT) in small and medium enterprises (SMEs) with the overall objective of improving business performance and competitiveness in the Food and Beverage and Plastics, Printing and Packaging sectors.
As the executing agency, CARIRI had the mission of sensitising over 350 companies; this was the first objective of the project. CARIRI went into the field and found companies that were interested in ICT or those that just wanted to find out more information about technology that could benefit their business.
The second step of the project saw the 350 companies being given an opportunity to have their business diagnosed. This meant that the CARIRI project team went into the individual businesses and did a thorough investigation of their ICT needs and developed a plan on the way forward. A total of 80 diagnostics were concluded.
The final stage of the project was the implementation stage. The proposed systems and software suggested in the previous stage were implemented in the companies. Some of the solutions that were proposed as implementations ranged from point of sale systems to websites to inventory management systems, depending on the nature of the business.
At the ICT Sustainability Forum, Mr Tomas Bermudez, the IDB Country Representative spoke on the tremendous success that has been borne out of the project in the specific sectors and the IDB’s commitment to continuing the ICT implementations is the new sectors.
Although the Minister of Planing and Development, the Honourable Camille Robinson Regis was unable to attend due to last minute commitments, Dr Rickhie Permanand was able to bring greetings and deliver a rousing feature address on her behalf. Dr Permanand spoke about competitiveness and Trinidad and Tobago’s own ranking in the global index, he noted that ICT created a bridge to overcome significant gaps and as a way to improve the country’s ranking.
Mr Liaquat Ali Shah, Chief Executive Officer of CARIRI was able to further expound on ICT but delved into how being innovative can actually thrust you forward into a new way of thinking that can lead to empowerment for you and your business. He further explained that the programme’s purpose was to create a positive intervention with SMES to connect to the dots in order to uplift entrepreneurial capacity and increase competitiveness. He further stated that ICT must always be user friendly and CARIRI has strived to be innovative for such demands by creating easy workable approaches to software and hardware operations.
The highlight of the morning’s proceedings was the panel discussion hosted by Vashtie Dookiesingh, Multilateral Investment Fund Specialist at the IDB. This session was entitled ‘Beneficiaries Speak’, and the persons on the panel actually went through the three stages of this project and spoke about their experiences and their interaction with the CARIRI team. They all agreed that CARIRI aimed to understand their business rather than just providing ‘consultations’; they were happy with the results and stated that that they would definitely recommend this project to their partners. Also in high praise of CARIRI, Ms Dookiesingh said that CARIRI was adaptable to the consistent changes that took place working with different businesses and congratulated CARIRI for a steady governance and management system.
CARIRI team members were also able to showcase a few of the software that were developed in-house as a result of their experiences on the various projects. Specifically, CARIRI has successfully developed an application known as the CARIRI Box that is geared towards the health sector. This mobile application allows medical practitioners to access their patient databases on the go. This is just one of the many innovations that CARIRI is working on.
From the feedback received over the last few days, the programme was much needed and it was well accepted by the participants who were looking forward to the next session to be held by CARIRI and the IDB.