Creating A Culture For Innovation In Barbados

Dr. Paul Pounder

In our time, innovation plays a fundamental role in the creation of wealth, economic growth and the improvement of the quality of life for all. This is certainly the case for Barbados, a small island situated in the Caribbean. Barbados has made efforts to support innovation, but more is needed to embed an innovative mindset in the country. It is understood that though countries can try to create processes to stimulate inventions; it is not the processes that create the innovation; it is the people and their mindset. In Barbados much of the focus has been placed on an organizational perspective and this write-up aims to highlight some of the steps that Government has taken to stimulate the innovation process, as well as to identify some of the gaps which exists.

In 2001, the Barbados Investment and Development Corporation (BIDC) developed an Innovation Support Programme (ISP). The BIDC recognized that innovative ideas often languish or remain unexploited because the owners lack the financial, technical or other means of pursuing their development and protection. To overcome this challenge, the Programme offers technical advice to Inventors in the development of novel ideas, intellectual property protection and commercialization.

In addition to the ISP, the government of Barbados also set aside US$2.5 million in 2003 in a fund called the Innovation Fund. The Innovation Fund is managed by the Enterprise Growth Fund Limited and provides seed capital in the range of US$12,500 to US$125,000 to assist entrepreneurs with the implementation of commercially viable project ideas. The fund is also used to coordinate the National Innovation Competition which encourages management and other personnel to think outside the box in enhancing the competitiveness of their businesses.

In summary, though I believe all these efforts play an important part in the innovation process, I do not believe that a country can try to formalize innovation; as creativity and innovation are very much art forms. As such, it makes good sense to say that the results of any such innovation could only stem from stimulation of the art form and therefore creating a culture of innovation should be people focused; therefore stimulating such creative juices from an individual perspective is definitely one good way forward.

Therefore any future plans should develop around introducing creativity workshops at all levels in the educational system. This is however just the beginning as it is also necessary to create an innovation model as part of the transformation strategy to create an innovative culture which is integrated and stimulates linkage and simultaneous interaction between stakeholders throughout the entire innovation cycle on the island. In the case of businesses, an optimal mix between technology advancements, retooling, investments and organizational changes is needed to remain competitive. Therefore it makes justifiable sense to concur that the more people are exposed to developing the correct mindset from an early age, the more a country like Barbados can foster creativity.

Article © 2009 Dr. Paul Pounder. All rights reserved.

about the author...

Dr. Paul Pounder

Dr. Paul Pounder

affiliation:   University Of The Westindies; Department Of Management Studies

position:  Lecturer

country:  Barbados

area of interest:  Innovation Management, SME Innovation

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