KINGSTON, Sept. 10 (JIS):
Minister of State in the Ministry of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining, Hon. Julian Robinson, says the Government will continue to create the enabling environment for technology and innovation.
This, he said, is being done by ensuring that Jamaicans have access to the Internet through the e-learning initiatives, and community access points. He noted that an island-wide broadband network is also being rolled out.
“We are playing a role in facilitating the build out of the infrastructure and that really is no different from the same way you build a highway. But the highway is not just a road, it is a highway to economic development and it is the same way we see the island-wide broadband network that we are doing,” he stated.
Mr. Robinson was responding to questions during a roundtable discussion at the 2nd annual Venture Capital Conference held on Tuesday (September 9), at the Jamaica Conference Centre, downtown Kingston.
He noted that the Government has been undertaking initiatives to support and foster innovation such as the Tablets in Schools Initiative and the ‘Start Up Jamaica’ programme.
“We are rolling out those tablets and (while) it may be primarily educational, I think it will also facilitate this culture of innovation and entrepreneurship once it is used properly. You’re going to have 25,000 kids having tablets in the next month or so and that opens up a whole set of other opportunities for entrepreneurs, who programme content etcetera,” he said.
Students and teachers at 38 learning institutions are being equipped with tablet computers under the pilot of the Tablets in Schools programme, which got underway at the start of the new academic year.
Start-up Jamaica is a five-year programme, which will provide business support for young innovators and entrepreneurs to grow their ideas into marketable products and services, thus contributing to economic growth, increasing employment, and generating foreign exchange.
Mr. Robinson, in the meantime, stated that infusing courses centred on innovation and entrepreneurship into the school curriculum will create more highly qualified technology graduates for the job market.
“We have to start at the schools so those kids, ages 15 and 16, can recognise that there are (other) options… you can build and develop your own business and your own ideas…and the more we can infuse it earlier on in our education system, the better,” he said.
The 2nd annual Venture Capital Conference, organised by the Development Bank of Jamaica, was held under the theme: ‘Towards a Dynamic Ecosystem…Linking Capital, Innovation and Entrepreneurship for Growth’.