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Minister of Innovation, Science and Smart Technology, Senator Kay McConney (right), in talks with Global Information Technology Leader Claudette McGowan, as the Smart Barbados Week of activities got underway.

Government working with national partners to attain a Smart Barbados

The hosting of Smart Barbados Week – “A Digital Encounter” will aid the Ministry of Innovation, Science and Smart Technology in commencing the process of working with its national partners, to achieve the goal of a “Smart Barbados”.

Minister of Innovation, Science and Smart Technology, Senator Kay McConney acknowledged the above, as she delivered remarks yesterday during the start of the Smart Barbados Week Conference held under the theme “National Innovation Strategies”, at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre.

“What we are going to achieve this week will help to guide the work of my Ministry, but more importantly, will help to ensure that we are working [in tune] with the private sector and other national stakeholders, to build a better and smarter Barbados,” Minister McConney told those gathered, even as she recognised the partnerships already started with the Barbados Chamber of Commerce (BCCI), the Barbados International Business Association (BIBA), the Internet Society Barbados Chapter (ISOCbb), and the Small Business Association of Barbados, in getting the Smart Barbados Week off the ground.

“Our first day today will focus on innovation and what model of innovation may best work for Barbados. Silicon Valley in San Francisco is always touted as the gold standard, home to thousands of start-up companies, venture capitalists and a vibrant innovation ecosystem. There are innovation hubs in Singapore, in India, in Ireland, in other parts of the world. What is the secret to their success? What model may best work for Barbados? Not necessarily us adopting someone else’s, but us not reinventing the wheel, but being able to customise what works in this context. That will be our focus today,” McConney remarked.

She added, “One of the complaints often heard is that we do not have the right mix of venture capital or risk capital in Barbados. Indeed, it is said that we are risk averse in Barbados. There is also the question of trust in relation to the sharing of new ideas with financial institutions, where we have heard from the people who are reporting to us, that there’s fear of their ideas being stolen and that has become an inhibitor to them wanting to step forward and put forward those innovative and creative ideas, particularly for funding. If this is the case that we are being told, how do we address those challenges?”

“How do we change this dynamic and what are some of the strategies we can employ? How can we change mindsets and attitudes? How do we change the culture, not just in the private sector, but also in the public sector? How do we break down outmoded structures in the public service, to make it more agile and innovative, whilst maintaining the checks and balances that have served us well in the past,” the Minister further said of the discussions to come.

Her Ministry, she said, was also slated to share some of the details of some of the key projects being worked on, to ensure a smarter Barbados. There were also a number of panel discussions and workshops, slated for the first day’s session. (RSM)

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