Archive for the ‘Trinidad & Tobago’ Category

Tamana InTech Park: progress in paradise (TID magazine)

Tamana Intech Park: progress in paradise

Tamana Intech Park: progress in paradise

Exceptional facilities, eco-friendly construction, convenient transportation, ample resources and an educated, ready workforce…

A vibrant multicultural community and a few thousand miles of beaches…

Yep. Now you’ve got an idea of what it’s like to operate in the Caribbean’s financial, industrial, economic and energy hub, the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, at Tamana InTech Park.

“We are a profoundly creative people, and the task before us is to apply this creative strength to achieving business and national goals,” says the Honourable Minister Stephen Cadiz, Trinidad and Tobago’s Minister of Trade & Industry.

“While we cannot compete with larger nations in terms of output due to economies of scales, there is no limit to our capacity to innovate.”

From oil and gas to knowledge and innovation

The first oil well in the Western hemisphere was drilled in Trinidad and Tobago, signaling the start of a century of oil production in the country.

But in the 1970s, Trinidad and Tobago’s government embarked on a mission to diversify the country’s economy based on one of the islands’ other plentiful resources: natural gas.

The result was the Point Lisas project, a technology-driven initiative based on a cluster system, which resulted in Trinidad and Tobago supplying 70 percent of the liquefied natural gas (LNG) to the United States.

The concept of clustering

“Clusters bring together, in one geographic location, companies, customers, suppliers and academia in a particular industry,” explains Angela Hordatt, Vice President of Business Development, eTecK.

“Because all these people are in one location, they can form strategic partnerships and feed off the synergies created, both competitively and cooperatively. Point Lisas, a highly successful cluster, proved that this strategy dramatically increases the level of innovation and success of the entire cluster.

“I was a young engineer when Point Lisas started. I can’t wait to see Tamana blossom in the same way.”

Tamana’s cluster environment fosters industry in four distinct segments: information communication and technology (ICT); high value manufacturing; agro-technology; and what Hordatt refers to as clean energy and green technologies.

Ushering in a knowledge-based economy

“Tamana InTech Park will be the crest of the wave that would help transform our economy to one that is more driven by knowledge-based enterprises and innovative industries,” says Mr. Lindahl Ghany, director, Memory Bank Computers Ltd.

“The layout lends itself to the blending of educational facilities and private sector businesses – a mix which is critical to achieving the end product needed.

“Its location and easy access to our airport hub means we can attract the international business partners who will complement the locally owned industries.”

Click here to read the full article published in the July/August issue of Trade & Industry Development magazine.


Trinidadian inventor Ronald De Four patents technology to mitigate global warming

Ronald De Four

Ronald De Four, Trinidadian inventor

After seven years of intense determination and personal sacrifice, Dr. Ronald De Four is now the proud owner of a US patent via the Patent Cooperation Treaty – only the second of its kind in Trinidad and Tobago.

In March 2003, De Four transformed scalar time variables into vector variables in the spatial domain of an electrical motor and performed vector addition to the resulting voltages to produce the De Four Back EMF Space Vector Resolver, a theory he applied in the development of his invention, ‘Self-Starting Method and An Apparatus for Sensorless Commutation of Brushless DC Motors’ (World Intellectual Property Organization International Publication Number WO 2006/073378 A1 and U.S. Pat. No. 7,737,651).

It took seven stages in order to get to where he has gotten, a long and complicated process that has deterred many other inventors and which has won him world class recognition alongside other pioneer inventors in this field.

Apart from the technical aspects of his invention, getting it patented was another substantial hurdle.

“The patenting process is the biggest problem and the biggest headache you will ever get,” said De Four.

But his determination persevered.

Personal sacrifice

De Four underwent intense study to learn the intricate workings of intellectual property law, and how to formulate the technical documents.

He has spent hundreds of thousands of TT dollars thus far in prosecuting patent applications in the United States of America and many other PCT contracting states.

“I had to sell land, cut back on eating, on many things, because I had to pay patent bills,” he admitted. “I could have been on the streets all now. But I knew. I just knew this would work.”

Brushless DC Motors

His invention will soon have a resounding impact in industries across the board, including: appliances, automotive, aerospace, consumer, medical, computer and industrial automation industries.

Brushless DC (BLDC) motors have gained popularity due to their advantages of high power density, high efficiency, long operating life, clean operation, low audible noise operation, high speed operation, low thermal resistance and low electromagnetic interference or radio frequency interference.

This results in the motor doing more work per KWh of electricity, thus providing a desirable solution to enhancing energy efficiency and reducing environmental pollution.

But unlike traditional AC Induction and Brush DC motors, BLDC motors require rotor position sensors for providing rotor position information to commutate and drive the motor.

This increases both the cost and the complexity, causing an overall decrease in system efficiency and reliability.

De Four’s method and apparatus

Building upon research and developments for over 20 years in the area of sensorless commutation, De Four’s invention introduces a new commutation technique for BLDC motors which now allows the motor to be self-starting and the windings to be activated at any angle to get any performance of your choice, which is possible because it is software-driven.

“I have not patented hardware,” he explained. “The Americans are very smart and I decided to get smarter. We do not have the technology, we do not have the critical mass, we do not have the funding to build airplanes and spaceships. However we do have the brains to make certain parts of them work better. I used what has been built, and structures that have been working well in the industry to piggyback onto, and have my inventions riding on them. This way, the industry doesn’t have to change – I just retro-fit with software.”

Mitigating global warming

The mitigation of global warming has been a primary focus of research activity for De Four, a lecturer at the Faculty of Engineering at the University of the West Indies, as well as CEO and Chairman of his startup company R de F Technologies LTD.

The application of his invention will result in the reduction of atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide, a byproduct of burning fossil fuel and the key greenhouse gas responsible for global warming.

De Four acknowledged that his invention will not yield immediate results, but if industries adopt his method, the effects of it will stretch beyond hundreds and thousands of years, because such a high-performance energy-efficient system is needed to maintain an environment capable of sustaining human and animal life.

An avid supporter of innovation in Trinidad and Tobago, Dr. Ronald De Four has offered his knowledge and time to Tamana InTech Park to serve on the Steering Committee for Trinidad and Tobago’s Innovation Centre (TTIC).

T&T’s knowledge-based economy: Institutional Regime and Innovation System

In the words of Judy Lake, vice president of Information Technology Services at the University of Trinidad and Tobago:

“As a nation, Trinidad now has greater expectations. We don’t want to go back; we don’t know how to go back. The only way is the way forward, the way onwards towards the vast opportunities for creative minds to welcome the era of the knowledge-based economy.”


With Tamana InTech Park, the country is going forward and onwards to a knowledge-based economy.

A knowledge-based economy (KBE) is one in which the production, distribution and use of knowledge are the main drivers of growth, wealth-creation and employment across all industries.

Last week’s blog article examined Trinidad and Tobago’s readiness for ushering in a new era of a knowledge-based economy by looking at two of the four World Bank pillars:
(1) ICT Infrastructure
(2) Education and Skills

Now we’ll look at the final two pillars:
(3) Economical and Institutional Regime
(4) Innovation System

How does Trinidad and Tobago measure up to other countries in these World Bank pillars?

How will Tamana InTech Park bolster the nation’s economy?

How does the Trinidad & Tobago Innovation Centre (TTIC) at Tamana InTech Park fit into the national innovation system?

Click here to read the article published today in the Trinidad Express, part 2 of the articles series, discussing the final two of the four World Bank Pillars: (3) Economical and Institutional Regime and (4) Innovation System.

T&T’s knowledge-based economy: ICT and upskilling

Tamana InTech Park is the single most important initiative to date by the Government of Trinidad & Tobago in the quest to transform the economy from its historical dependence on oil and gas.

Tamana InTech Park is helping the country to move away from its reliance on a commodity-based economy and invest in developing a knowledge-based economy (KBE).

A knowledge-based economy (KBE) is one in which the production, distribution and use of knowledge are the main drivers of growth, wealth-creation and employment across all industries.

The World Bank has identified the four pillars of a KBE as :
(1) Information and Communication Technology Infrastructure (ICT)
(2) Education and Skills
(3) Economical and Institutional Regime
(4) Innovation System

The countries recognised as the best examples of KBEs are Sweden, the United States, Korea and Finland.

It is no coincidence that these are also the most innovative countries in the world.

So how does Trinidad and Tobago measure up to the World Bank pillars?

Click here to read the article published today in the Trinidad Express, discussing the first two of the four World Bank Pillars: (1) Information and Communication Infrastructure and (2) Education and Skills.

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.

Entrepreneurship & Innovation in T&T

The word ‘entrepreneur’ generally calls to mind an image of a fast-talking, savvy businessman with numbers on the brain and money to burn.

Schoolchildren wielding rubber-bands? …Not so much.

But this rubber-band project was a building block of an innovative activity geared to stimulate students’ entrepreneurial drives.

This was done by students at one of the schools linked to the Trinidad & Tobago Entrepreneurship and Innovation Club (TTEI), which is headed by Ryan John.

Rubber-band innovation

As John explained, the rubber-band project demonstrated why students frequently arrived late to school.

Thick rubber-bands of varying colours were sold for $1 each, and along the rubber-band’s surface, information was written to indicate time and distance between places.

The students then used the rubber-bands to indicate on maps their routes to school, demonstrating how difficult it was to be on time.

The end result is a visual and artistic representation that reflects an innovative and entrepreneurial approach to the process of problem-solving.

The students hope to venture out into the surrounding community to expand the project and get others to take part in it, with the hope of gaining an audience of the Ministry of Works and Transport and eventually the Prime Minister.

TTEI – nurturing innovation

The example of the potential to be gleaned from a mere rubber-band was one of the seeds of thought inculcated by the Entrepreneurship and Innovation Club.

Currently operating through The National Institute of Higher Education, Research, Science and Technology (NIHERST), the Club provides a forum where young people can visit in order to get some information on business practices and to practice entrepreneurship before leaving school.

Ryan John believes that it is essential to begin teaching and encouraging entrepreneurship from a very young age, at least at the Form 3 level.

“By the time they’re finished with CXC, they’ve gone through that ‘brainwashing’ process of ‘you’re going to school to work for somebody, to get a job’,” he said.

“Before that is injected, we need to instill in them that there is a possibility that exists for them to be able to put something of their own out there and live off it.”

All-encompassing innovation

John lamented the fact that, at present, as the Club operates through NIHERST, it mainly attracts youths from the Port-of-Spain region.

He would like for the Club to exist in different locations around Trinidad and Tobago, and to liaise with other companies to aid the development of the country.

He acknowledged that some companies have already contributed to promoting innovation, but insisted that most efforts have been separatist to date, which only benefited the company’s interests rather than the country as a whole.

TTEI aims to function as an all-encompassing entity and neutral body that does not focus on any one sector or industry, but takes the entire development of the country into consideration.

“We want it to be a centerpiece for every element that exists for helping youths – we’re connected to Science and Technology, so we can direct members of the Club to where to go for ideas and how to make their ideas feasible, where to go for patenting, and so on,” John said.

Mobile mentorship

Some successes of the Club to date include the hosting of National Entrepreneurship Development Company Limited (NEDCO) and Business Development Company (BDC) for lectures and discussions on business funding.

Ryan John has also conducted talks on the necessary sacrifices involved in being an entrepreneur, and worked with students in teams towards the development of innovative ideas towards an end product.

John’s next step for the Club is to begin a ‘mobile mentorship’ program, where youths can connect to recognised and established people in their fields of interest and pitch questions and concerns by text-messaging, emailing and the Internet.

Reflective of the high-paced technologically-driven atmosphere of youths, this is ideal for young entrepreneurs, and would also be a more low-maintenance and less time-consuming relationship for the mentor as well.

UTT’s Innovation Centre

TTEI is only one initiative to indicate that innovation is alive and well in Trinidad and Tobago.

Who knows? Perhaps the members of TTEI will be the same youths to develop start-ups businesses under the University of Trinidad and Tobago’s (UTT’s) Innovation Centre (TTIC), a business incubator that will provide tenancy and enhanced managerial and financial support for 1-3 years to start-up technology and knowledge-based companies.

Operating virtually since October 2006, the Centre will finally have a place to be physically housed upon the launch of e TecK’s Tamana InTech Park in Wallerfield, north Trinidad.

Like John’s Entrepreneurship and Innovation Club, TTIC aims to be a springboard for young entrepreneurs who need the framework to pursue their entrepreneurial desires and innovative ideas, with the intention of culminating in the successful launch into the world of business.

To find out more about TTIC, click here.

To connect with TTEI on Facebook, click here.

“We are NEXT” opens at Shanghai World Expo

"We are Next" opens at Shanghai World Expo

The “We are Trinidad and Tobago. We Are Next” booth was opened to the world on Saturday 1st May 2010 at Shanghai World Expo 2010.

e TecK staff are all geared up to market Trinidad & Tobago as the next economic hot-spot for Foreign Direct Investment in the English-speaking Caribbean.

There will be particular focus on Tamana InTech Park, the country’s first Science and Technology Park.

The theme of the exposition is “Better City — Better Life”, signifying Shanghai’s new status in the 21st century as the next great world city.

Over 190 countries and over 50 international organisations have registered to participate in the event, which is the largest Expo ever.

Invest in T&T

The nation will be exhibited at the Expo until the 31st of October, highlighting 5 areas positioned for growth: ICT, Downstream Energy, Tourism, Food & Beverage, and Agro-technology.

There will also be a National Week during  the 19-25th September, featuring the Trinidad & Tobago Business Forum which will showcase the available investment opportunities in the country.

“We have a long legacy of growth and success in the energy sector that has helped us attain the sophisticated and strong economy we can speak about today,” said Wendy Fitzwilliam, Vice President of Investment Promotion at eTecK.

“However, the time is now for us to leverage this legacy and show the world that we are next and the time is now to invest in Trinidad & Tobago.”

Click here to read the full press release on Daily Finance.

TTMA’s Greig Laughlin calls for innovation

Greig Laughlin, TTMA President, on the state of innovation in T&T

TTMA President Greig Laughlin is a busy man.

“Oh gosh, I am constantly running all over the place… but I can’t complain,” he laughs good-naturedly, as I finally cornered him following e Teck’s High Value Manufacturing Cluster Launch held at the Trinidad Hilton at the end of April.

Laughlin, also the Managing Director of automotive products supplier Laughlin & De Gannes, joined the Trinidad and Tobago Manufacturing Association (TTMA) six years ago as a small manufacturer.

He was recently re-elected to serve a second term as TTMA President. Despite tremendous challenges, he led the TTMA through the effects of the global economic crisis.

He managed to share with me his passionate plea for the future of innovation in Trinidad & Tobago.

Robotic innovation

“We at the TTMA have been strong promoters of innovation,” he said. “Some manufacturers have taken advantage of the slowdown period by really looking into their processes and finding new ways of delivering.  Most are trying to find new niche markets, and in order to do this, they have to be more innovative in what they’re doing.”

One example sited was Robert Tang Yuk, of Tang Yuk & Co. Ltd., who brought in an entire robotic plant that builds electrical boxes.

Like Laughlin, Tang Yuk has worked extensively with University of Trinidad and Tobago (UTT) students, who were excited to get involved with the robotic plant. It is the only one of its kind in the Caribbean and one of the few in Latin America.

“But what he envisions is doing more,” Laughlin stated. “Architects and builders are now making such a wide range of designs that they’re not looking for standard-sized boxes – now they want different sizes, different shapes, and intricate designs. As such, Tang Yuk has to make more innovative designs.” 

‘Mistrust’ bars innovation

But one of the major problems facing Trinidad, as Laughlin argues, is the level of mistrust between students and the business community.

He also lamented that the mentality in Trinidad and Tobago is still one of trading – ‘buying-and-selling’ – rather than building our own.

“Not that there’s anything wrong with that,” he justified. “But we also need to find industries that will add to the economy. My fear – and it should be the fear of many – is what happens when oil and gas is over with. How do you continue to keep going?

“How do we maintain – and increase – our standard of living after oil and gas? What can we fall back on?”

Renewable energy focus

Laughlin suggested that instead of focusing on oil and gas energy, the country needs to place more emphasis on renewable energies such as solar chips.

He says: “We need to find technologies that will take Trinidad and Tobago into the next 50 years and 100 years.”

e TecK’s Tamana InTech Park in Wallerfield, north-east Trinidad, will address this need for innovation as a core component of the country’s business infrastructure.

The Park, which is expected to be opened later this year, is an 1100-acre light eco-industrial park with an academic and research focus that will also balance a unique blend of environmental appeal (30% green) with industrialisation.

Its largest tenant, the University of Trinidad and Tobago (UTT), will provide the essential synergy between industry and academia that TTMA President Greig Laughlin fervently supports.