Government officially launches US$10 Million Innovation Programme with the EU, IDB and CARIRI

Camille Robinson-Regis, Minister of Planning and Development is announcing for public information that the Government of Trinidad and Tobago, in collaboration with the European Union (EU), the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the Caribbean Industrial Research Institute (CARIRI), has launched the programme, 'Shaping the Future of Innovation'. This initiative is funded under the 11th European Development Fund (EDF), amounting to US$10 Million, with the aim of building a more innovative and competitive economy in Trinidad and Tobago, through economic diversification.

An official steering committee was launched on Wednesday November 24th, 2021. signaling furtherance of formal operations on this project and Minister Robinson-Regis stated that, "Our Roadmap to Recovery document has identified the urgent need to encourage and create the conditions for innovation as one of the measures required to target the long-discussed economic diversification of Trinidad and Tobago. Government has done the ground work to produce Trinidad and Tobago’s first National Innovation Policy in 2017, and is now at the point of launching the programme, “Shaping the Future of Innovation”, which is the first initiative designed to put that policy into action. With the help of our international development partners, the EU, IDB Lab and CARIRI, this programme is designed to target the gaps identified in our innovation ecosystem which includes financial incentives, industry and academia linkages, and a network of key players that provide business support."

According to Minister Robinson-Regis, “this innovation programme is a key element in the fulfilment of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which form the building blocks towards the National Development Strategy, Vision 2030.” The Honourable Minister also emphasized that “innovation forms one of eight medium term priorities of the Government for the period 2021 to 2025 in order to stimulate the economy and secure lives and livelihoods of our citizens.” Minister Robinson-Regis reiterated that “this grant resource will be made available to both the Public and Private sectors and will specifically target organizations that have developed and are bringing new and innovative products and services to the market. The grant will benefit the business sector by assisting those innovators who have developed a new product or service that is market ready and has the export potential necessary the generate foreign income. The Government is therefore seeking to monetize our innovative capacity as a nation by supporting those who are willing to invest in the R&D necessary to create 21st Century products with the ultimate goal of stimulating new economic opportunities.”

Members of the steering committee include:

  • Chairman - Mrs. Joanne Deoraj - Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Planning and Development
  • Mr. Davin Jagessar - Assistant Project Coordinator, EDF Unit, Ministry of Planning and Development
  • Ms. Denise Ferguson - Project Lead, Caribbean Industrial Research Institute (CARIRI)
  • Mr. Juan Luis Molinuevo - Project Manager, Delegation of the European Union, Trinidad and Tobago (EU)
  • Mrs. Vashti Dookiesingh - Private Finance Operations - Senior Specialist, Inter-American Development Bank (IDB Labs)

The key roles of the steering committee include:

  • Monitoring of technical implementation, contractual compliance and reporting requirements
  • Review of the Annual Progress Report and Project Status Reports,
  • Monitoring and update as required of project risks and mitigation actions
  • Assessment of any challenges to project execution and approval of activities required to address such challenges,
  • Budget monitoring
  • Review and approval of the final list of organizations recommended for receipt of funding under the Innovation Challenge Facility (Component I).

Programme Details:

The programme, which was initiated on October 26th, 2021, is open to both private and state organizations as well as Civil Society and will include 3 major components as follows:

  1. Provision of grant financing and technical support to organizations seeking to innovate in the development of goods, services, business models and export market access.

This component will establish a competitive and demand-driven innovation challenge program targeting organizations that are seeking financing for innovation in products, services, channels, new markets and business models etc. Applicants are expected to include : (i) small organizations and individual innovators (ii) medium and larger organizations with an established commercial track record and (iii) other organizations/clusters innovating delivery of goods and services, including quasi-public private partnership (PPP) type arrangements / base of the pyramid type models for delivery of goods and services, that may traditionally be provided by the state.

  1. Closer applied collaboration between tertiary institutions and firms in developing innovative solutions for key operational and organizational challenges.

    This component will to seek to forge closer ties between academia and private sector firms. The government of T&T has invested heavily in expanding access to tertiary education by providing financial support for under graduate and graduate studies. However, the level of applied, commercially oriented R&D work between academic institutions and local firms remains low. Under this component, a program will be designed and piloted to link tertiary graduate students with local organizations to solve specific challenges and conduct applied research for innovation. The pilot program will involve participation of the University of Trinidad and Tobago (UTT) which offers a range of applied programs in engineering, innovation, manufacturing and technology, and potentially the local campus of the University of the West Indies (UWI). Organizations wishing to secure support will be required to define and submit a specific challenge / scope of work that will be required, while technical backstopping and quality assurance will be provided by university faculty in collaboration and consultation with the partner organizations senior management. To ensure success, the pilot will start by engaging the faculties of UTT and UWI that are interested and open to participate and will define requirements of the student and the receiving organizations’ management.
  2. Development of a network model to drive and sustain coordinated support for innovation, both during and beyond the duration of the proposed intervention.

This component will address the lack of local, regional and global networking and co-ordination to support innovation in T&T. It will build a network model linking local actors as well as external (regional and international) accelerators, incubators, academic institutions, venture capital funds and company builders to create an innovation network that can support continuity and expansion of the innovation thrust in T&T. This intervention was designed to strengthen the eco system by which innovators can access the support and linkages required for success.

The next step for the project will be an invitation for the submission of concept notes on innovative projects which will be held on November 30th, 2021.

For further information on this initiative visit