“EDITOR’S NOTEBOOK: Businesses should fund more research”

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The late Professor Oliver Headley’s remarkable work in solar energy is something of which all Barbadians must be extremely proud.

The work of Professor Leonard O’Garro’s at the Centre for Food Security and Entrepreneurship has also been ground-breaking in many respects.

The two scientists’ work has been translational research, in that it has brought tangible results to the society.

We need much more of that type of research and development (R&D) undertaken at the Cave Hill Campus of the University of the West Indies (UWI).

This R&D is not about helping Cave Hill and by extension the UWI to improve on its rankings, but for us to be able to have our academics come up with products and solutions to things which impact on everyday life.

The need to provide this country with affordable energy, while not contributing to climate change, cannot be left only to an entrepreneur such as Ralph “Bizzy” Williams or the innovative mind of Mark Hill.

We would like our scientists and engineers at the Cave Hill Campus to provide cheap solutions whereby we can utilise both the wind and the sun, which we experience every day of the year, and in the case of the wind, day and night. It could also be by use of other fuels with which Hill has been experimenting.

Now that the Mia Amor Mottley Administration has drastically cut the corporation taxes payable, it would be good if these businesses would invest perhaps 0.5 per cent of their savings in R&D.

The Barbados Light & Power Company, Arawak Cement Company, SOL, Rubis, among many others, should seriously consider the benefits to their companies and, more important, to the country by funding R&D.

There is a lot of work to be done in agricultural research beyond what the Caribbean Agricultural Research And Development Institute (CARDI) now does. Increasing crop yields, fighting the pests and diseases attacking our plants, and having better strains of livestock must be important national objectives.

If we can achieve major breakthroughs in these areas without genetically modifying the crops or altering the genes of our livestock and fish, then we would have done something major for mankind.

The other area to which some of the R&D funding ought to go is education, to help transform that system in order to better equip both students and teachers if we are to deliver a world-class education to every student.

The corporate tax savings were unexpected, and use of very small portions of the savings should be seen as part of a company’s corporate social responsibility initiative. (ES)