Tuesday, February 4, 2014

UWI calls for research support for regional development Research Days leads region to economic success

The University of the West Indies (UWI) will provide investors with the opportunity to, over three days, explore the business potential of cutting edge research projects underway at the institution when it hosts Research Days 2014. The Exposition is scheduled for Wednesday, February 19 to Friday, February 21 at the Mona campus under the theme ‘Fostering Growth and Development in Small Island Developing States (SIDS) through Research’.

Integral to the development of these states are studies from the Caribbean's leading research body, the UWI, which have been used extensively by public and private sector enterprises, including the Planning Institute of Jamaica and leading conglomerate GraceKennedy Limited.

While the research and development spend in the Caribbean is relatively far less than developed nations such as the US and Japan who spend close to three per cent of GDP on research alone, there is no denying the impact past and ongoing research have had on the region's development.

Julian Robinson, Minister of State in the Ministry of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining, in his keynote address at the UWI Mona Research Days 2014 Launch, lauded the institution for its contribution to nation building through research, while identifying a variety of studies spearheaded by UWI, including the research on ganja which informed the development of Cannasol, and the more recently the exploration of rare earth mining. 

He said that the institution is well positioned to drive economic growth in the country as it moves to an ‘Innovation Driven Economy’ that will require a major innovation-based shift in product and service development and delivery. 

Professor Archibald McDonald, Principal and Pro-Vice Chancellor of the UWI Mona underscored the need to place greater emphasis on research and the role that investors play in the process. 

Professor Archibald McDonald (left), Pro-Vice Chancellor and Principal of the UWI, Mona Campus and the Hon. Julian Robinson, Minister of State in the Ministry of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining listened keenly to Professor Ian Boxill as he discussed the many research initiatives being put forward by the UWI for its Research Days. They were speaking at the launch of Research Days 2014 on Tuesday, January 21 at the Mona Campus. The event took place on Tuesday, January 21 at the Mona Campus. Research Days provides the opportunity for more fruitful interaction between the researchers and investors in the interest of national development. Research Days 2014 will be held on Wednesday, February 19 to Friday, February 21.
“Jamaica and the wider Caribbean region are plagued by a multitude of issues that have affected their ability to thrive in the global community. The prevalence of health problems indigenous to the region, increased unemployment, low productivity caused by outdated technology and a weak economy underscored by lagging innovation, are all concerns that require our immediate and collective attention. In order to effectively address these concerns the University has embarked on a period of reformation in its research enterprise to put more emphasis on projects which will positively impact regional development,” he said. 

“Given Jamaica’s current challenging economic environment, it has grown increasingly difficult for our scholars to identify sources of funding for their research. Establishing key partnerships with government agencies and private sector groups will create the foundation of our research enterprise, and ensure that the benefits of these initiatives reach a wide cross section of our community,” he added.

Professor Denise Eldemire-Shearer, Chair of the UWI Mona’s Research Days 2014 Steering Committee, said the event’s focus on investors will be two-fold.

“Existing projects that need funding that will be exposed to investors that will impact national development. Secondly, investors need research done and there is a focus to expose to investors that we can do your research for you. Come sit with us and we will work with you to get your issues researched,” Eldemire-Shearer outlined.

While the allocation of money towards research can appear to be a big expense, the benefit it brings to investors on the back end far outweighs the cost. Research Days will also deliver bang for buck, according to Eldemire-Shearer.

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