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Turner Innovations Ltd: Inventors look at positives and rise above

Published:Monday | January 18, 2016 | 1:00 AM
Douglas Orane (centre), chairman of the Gleaner Honour Awards Selection Committee, poses with Allison and Oral Turner, co-founding directors of Turner Innovations, ahead of the Gleaner Honour Awards category luncheon.

Turner Innovations Ltd

Inventors look at positives and rise above

An ordinary Jamaican couple who dared to dream big have emerged among the Gleaner Honour awardees in the challenging industry of science and technology.

Oral Turner and his wife, Allison, are not financially well-off by any means, but this could not deter the creation of a sorrel-harvesting machine capable of stripping the flesh from the sorrel seed.

The process is currently done by hand in 22 countries across the globe.

With a United States patent pending, Allison told The Gleaner the machine is the first of its kind in the world.

"We are also applying for a world patent," revealed Allison, the more outspoken of the two, after a luncheon held Friday for category winners of this year's Gleaner Honour Awards.

Their company, Turner Innovations Ltd, has received a special award for science and technology.

Allison described the couple as inventors.

"We look at scenarios that we feel could have been dealt with better and we approach that, and we sit and think about them to find a better and easier way to do them."

Allison stressed that it was her husband who was the mastermind behind the invention.

Before they could complete their work, however, the couple were stopped in their tracks by a lack of funds.

"We applied for a loan. We had equity; we found that the banks in Jamaica weren't ready for innovation," said Allison. "We were told that the project is not stable enough for them."

But that did not stop the Turners.

"We turned to crowdfunding and raised some basic money, after which we reached out to the Government, who pointed us in the direction of the Development Bank of Jamaica (DBJ)."

Allison continued: "We made sure that we were heard and we didn't stop until we got grant funding."

She declared: "Every time we come across a problem or a 'no', and we have seen many 'nos' along the way, we just turned it around and saw how we can rise above it."

Allison described the journey as indescribable. "All we knew to do was to put one foot in front of the other instead of looking on the growth and success of others," she said.

Having not been born into wealth, Allison said she was guided by a philosophy that she developed early in life.

"I always believed from an early age that you should use any situation in which you find yourself as a motivator, instead of focusing on the negative and bringing yourself down by crying about how unlucky you are," she said.

"I believe that most things can be turned into a positive, and you can rise above it," added Allison.

But even with the obstacles, Allison declared: "We are enjoying the journey."

She declared that recognition has come from areas that they didn't know existed.