Local entrepreneurs shine at UTT’s Business Plan Competition 2010

First prize winner Abigail Liverpool (second from left) is presented with her cheque by Carl Francis, Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Trade and Industry; Dr. Denise Thompson, UTT Professor at the Centre for Production Systems; and Angela Hordatt, Vice President of Business Development at e TecK

Young entrepreneurs took advantage of the opportunity to showcase their innovative ideas at the University of Trinidad and Tobago’s (UTT) fourth annual Business Plan competition, held on Thursday July 15th at UTT’s O’Meara campus in Arima.

The competition, which is sponsored by e TecK and the Ministry of Trade and Industry, provides a means for identifying, developing and testing the feasibility of innovative, knowledge and technology-based opportunities in some of the industry areas targeted by the government for expanded investment.

“Our goal is to increase the contributions of non-energy sectors, thus reducing our dependence on energy-related resources,” stated Permanent Secretary Mr. Carl Francis, who gave the keynote address on behalf of the Honourable Mr. Stephen Cadiz, Minister of Trade and Industry.

He added that competitions such as these promote healthy linkages between creative, technological and educational facilities which support greater innovation and entrepreneurship throughout Trinidad and Tobago.

‘Organicycle’ takes the win

Applicants were given 20 minutes to present their business plans, and were judged on:
(1) Innovation, creativity and originality (15%)
(2) Market feasibility and response to clear market needs (25%)
(3) Management feasibility, human and technical resources (15%)
(4) Financial feasibility, start up and sustainability (25%)
(5) Presentation (20%)

The team of Abigail Liverpool and Giselle Lewis emerged as the winners of the $100,000 prize for their entry “Organicycle”, an organic waste recycling company developed with the objective of solving problems that exist within the agricultural and horticultural industries, as well as providing a solution for the country’s waste management.

“The competition gave me the opportunity to bring my ideas to fruition by managing a small startup company for turning waste into organic matter for planting,” said Abigail Liverpool.

She added: “While others may encourage you to think big and start big, I would encourage budding innovator and entrepreneurs to engage in something that is manageable and can grow in a short space of time.”

The team of Cherisse Ferreira, Davina Bujhawan and Leon George placed second with “Bambusa Limited”, which seeks to establish a manufacturing plant for the production of bamboo flooring and bamboo products in Trinidad & Tobago.

Cherise Ferreira stated that the exposure and experience was most valued by her team. “We were able to get to express a different side other than academic,” she said. “The practical application of academic knowledge was a welcome change.”

Third place was secured by Kirby Austin, Elliot Mapp-Best, and Arlette Antoine for their proposed company T.A.I.B. Ltd. which will provide tilapia fish products to the local market in Trinidad & Tobago.

 Springboard for future businesses

The UTT Business Plan Competition originated as a programme requirement for the students of the Masters in Industrial and Innovation Entrepreneurship, and was gradually opened to the wider university inclusive of students, staff and faculty. It intends to act as both a preview of the way a real business will be conducted, as well as a potential take-off platform for future opportunities.

As the Trinidad Guardian newspaper highlights, UTT criteria specifies that the first-place winner must follow through on the business plan to access the prize money:

  • $25,000 is distributed when the team successfully completes within 6 months the company registration, identifies management team and board, has first board meeting, and opens a business bank account
  • $25,000 is distributed on satisfactory completion of a business plan within 8 months of winning the award
  • the final $50,000 is given on completion of patent, drafting a sales contract or developing a satisfactory prototype

e TecK has been sponsoring UTT’s Business Plan Competition for the past four years, and intends to continue its investment in this venture to encourage Business Development opportunities.

The budding entrepreneurial talent emerging from this and other similar competitions will directly feed into the Trinidad and Tobago Innovation Centre at Tamana InTech Park.


No comments yet

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s