Innovation at its best

Good luck to all those participating in this year’s Blue Flame Challenge, conceptualised and executed by the Barbados Investment and Development Corporation (BIDC). Indeed, you are bold and courageous, as you accept a challenge designed to truly test your technical creativity and business acumen and certainly your persistence and willpower. The nation meanwhile will get to see “innovation at its best”.

According to the BIDC, “This year’s Blue Flame Challenge will be a fast-paced marathon of technical creativity and business acumen in the form of a ‘Hackathon’, where participants will work together in teams to solve the real-life challenge of connecting Barbados’ products and services with the Diaspora.”
The winning solution will be considered by the BIDC, as the platform of its ‘BajansConnect’ export marketing initiative. So we can see that the issue of increasing exports and earning greater foreign exchange is being addressed here, even as a number of the young people engaged in the 36-hour marathon that is the Blue Flame Hackathon, put their heads together to come up with a winning innovative solution, to the challenges presented.

According to the BIDC, which has partnered with IBM this year to facilitate the Blue Flame Challenge and Hackathon, the three main challenges entrants will tackle are: Challenge #1 – Increasing awareness of and engagement with Bajan products: What if Barbadians anywhere could find their home country products with one tap on their mobile phones?

Challenge #2 – Exploring online versus offline behaviours of diaspora consumers: What if Barbadian businesses could access real-time data on what diaspora consumers are searching for and use this information to grow their exports exponentially?

Challenge #3 – Optimising shipping and logistics for export of Bajan products: What if every small Barbadian business with hopes of exporting could market their high-quality goods and services through a portal that links directly into diaspora communities around the globe?

From what I have seen, it certainly appears that these young persons are up to the task of finding innovative solutions to these challenges, utilising technology available and training and mentorship given by IBM. Indeed, this is a plus and it speaks well for the young people involved and certainly the BIDC, which has been able to partner with global tech specialists like IBM. It is also good to hear that even though the winning team of the Blue Flame Hackathon will present its creative solution at Innovate Barbados 2018, which comes off on November 7 and 8, 2018 at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre and that winning solution will also be considered by the BIDC as the platform for its ‘BajansConnect’ export marketing initiative, that the BIDC will still make itself available to work with all teams and participants involved, to see where their innovative ideas can also be utilised.

Indeed, as the BIDC has pointed out, “Innovating for the future is certainly at the forefront of BIDC’s programme of activities”. Well done! I certainly hope however, that more agencies and businesses in Barbados can come on board and tap into the creative minds of our young people and use their technological skills to help them deliver more innovative products, that can help to boost our economy and provide a platform for us to be recognised world-wide.

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