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Innovators put heads together

BEA DOTTIN, [email protected]

Innovators put heads together

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Innovation and entrepreneurship are transformational and powerful.
This view was expressed by executive secretary for integral development of the Organisation of American States OAS), Sherry Tross in her address to the participants in the First Exchange for Competitiveness In The Americas In Innovation And Entrepreneurship which took place recently in the United States.
“Innovation and Entrepreneurship have the power to transform our economies and societies, opening new frontiers for growth and competitiveness; improving efficiencies and enhancing productive capacity and at the same time, can be powerful tools for inclusion, opening up possibilities and opportunities for larger segments of the population,” she told participants including Barbados Private Sector Association chief executive officer Anne Reid.
The First Exchange For Competitiveness In The Americas was co-organised by the OAS and the US government and involved the Inter- American Competitiveness Network (RIAC). More than 50 leaders who shape regional economic development and direct innovation centres in 20 countries in the Americas and the Caribbean participated in the exchange.
Activities included visits to urban and rural States of Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina to the cities of Atlanta, Greenville, Conover, Kannapolis and Charlotte.
According to Reid, “the objective of the exchange was to share successful and innovative business practices among countries of the Americas and to give participants the opportunity to see prime examples of investments and public-private partnerships, including research and development in the food processing, manufacturing, medical and automotive industries”.  
She said the exposure provided valuable insight into incubator facilities for early stage entrepreneurs, and the kind of programmes put in place to ensure that an innovative idea was captured and developed into economic activity.
What she found particularly interesting was how states, facing challenges with declining industries, were able to reinvent themselves through public-private partnerships with the ultimate focus being to create jobs. She noted that a critical feature of the reinventing process was how closely government worked with academic institutions, including primary schools, and the private sector to develop a culture of entrepreneurship and innovation.
The forum provided excellent opportunities to meet leading innovators. For example, one of the participants on the tour was the innovator of a bionic arm which the user can control with their mind. The inventor was able to show a man using the bionic arm to carry a five-gallon bottle of water.   
As was expressed by Tross at the opening ceremony, “the Exchange for Competitiveness is part of the task of facilitating dialogue and defining public policies because all countries have something to offer and this kind of innovation and entrepreneurship diplomacy creates win-win solutions.
“All these experiences in the United States and the Americas have changed paradigms and the way of doing business in our own countries, transformed public-private partnerships and encouraged the creation of new businesses and entrepreneurs.”  
This exchange was also organised within the context of events preceding the VIII Americas Competitiveness Forum to be held under the theme Human Imagination In Action: Promoting Competitiveness, Empowering Innovation from October 8 to 10 in Port of Spain. (PR/SC)