Following last month's announcement of infoDev / World Bank Group's Caribbean Climate Innovation Center (CCIC) Proof of Concept (PoC) awards, the 11 awardees assembled at the Center for Enterprise Development in Freeport, Trinidad on August 14th to collect their grant awards, network and have their first orientation and mentorship sessions with the Centre before embarking on their projects.
This first regional proof of concept (PoC) competition is awarding grants totaling more than USD400,000 for the development, testing and commercialization of innovative and locally relevant climate technology solutions. Entrepreneurs were asked to submit proposals for innovative products, services, or business models in sustainable agribusiness, water management and recycling, solar energy, energy efficiency, and resource use sectors.
Entrepreneurs representing seven of the 14 Caribbean territories in the World Bank/infoDev sphere participated in a round of mentorship talks by experts in business, technology and marketing, as well as to collect their grant award certificates from CCIC.
Sally Wade, Canadian charge d’affaires to Trinidad & Tobago presented the certificates to the winners and emphasized the importance of the climate technology program for the future of the region.
“Our emphasis is on increasing the productivity of small and medium-sized businesses,” she said, “to better prepare them for local and regional markets. EPIC and by extension the Climate Innovation Center is well positioned to promote high-growth and sustainable companies in the Caribbean. At a time when this region faces negative impacts from the effects of climate change.”
Though the winners have fairly diverse projects, some show similarities that may lead to collaboration in the future. The audience, consisting of other PoC entrants, climate technology experts, business owners and academics, paid rapt attention to the winners as they each presented their concepts now ready for pre-commercial proving.
At least three entrepreneurs are going the biodigester route, recycling cooking oils or employing algae to produce diesel fuel; one is producing briquettes from castor oil production byproducts and seed-shell waste while another is using banana leaves and other renewable material to produce a range of exotic art papers.
There is a novel reverse-osmosis desalination process from Antigua – where there is no naturally occurring surface water – and two lighting projects, one using solar fiber-optics and the other, sun-charged mobile device lantern-chargers.
One project that attracted much attention at the event was a hydrogen generator, the ‘Maynex H2 Flex’ developed by Jamaican innovator Harlo. Mayne’s device converts water into 100% pure hydrogen on demand for use in applications that rely on fossil fuels, such as gasoline in internal combustion engines. Able to power an automobile for 300 miles without the need for oxygen, electricity or engine modification, the unit’s only consumable items are an aluminum canister that has to be replaced when depleted—and the water, clean or otherwise, that powers the hydrogen reaction.
”Just add water and an aluminum cartridge, close the lid and hit the start button!” says Jamaican innovator Harlo Mayne (right) while he holds the attention of the crowd to his innovation, the ‘Maynex H2 Flex’ at the CCIC Proof of Concept (PoC) grant award event in Freeport, Trinidad.
The CCIC is part of infoDev’s Climate Technology Program (CTP), which is currently implementing a global network of innovation centers across seven other countries, including Kenya, Ghana, Vietnam and Ethiopia. The center is also part of the broader Entrepreneurship Program for Innovation in the Caribbean (EPIC), a seven-year program funded by the Government of Canada (DFATD) to support growth-oriented enterprises across the Caribbean.