Mon | Jan 22, 2018

Innovation critical to boost economy

Published:Monday | November 21, 2016 | 12:00 AM

The Mona School of Business and Management conference under the theme, 'Connecting the Dots: Enterprise, Entrepreneurship and Sustainable Development', concluded last Friday.

Public- and private-sectors leaders as well as members of academia met to discuss how business can fuel development, entrepreneurship and the importance of innovation and small island states investing in disaster preparedness.

Dr John Sviokla, principal and US advisory innovation leader at PricewaterhouseCoopers, focusing on unlocking creativity and building human capital, noted that these would allow for growth in capital over time.

Notwithstanding that, there was still space for innovation even with limited resources, he said while addressing the conference which started on Wednesday.

Dr Sviokla said that a business can only be successful when people are competently skilled and, therefore, this should be the first investment to boost development through innovation.

"You don't have to invent a new industry to invent new growth. There is always growth in a mature market. You just need to do it right. Most of all think about human beings and not just the policies, while understanding how to get access to capital," he said.

Senior specialist with the Multilateral Investment Fund of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), Wayne Beecher, echoed a similar idea in his presentation, suggesting that more effort should be made to create companies that can provide economic value to the market.

Neil McFarlane, chief for the New York Liaison Office of the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction, said Jamaica, like other small island developing states, are disproportionally affected by disasters and can lose as much as 20 times more of its capital stock in a disaster compared to other regions of the world, with adverse impact on small businesses in particular.




"We need to understand this more and change the future course. Small island states can make investments particularly in beach tourism, where there is high exposure to hazards such as tropical cyclones, storm surges and tsunamis. Infrastructure may be exposed to sea level rise, coastal erosion," he said.

McFarlane added that businesses need to partner with governments in addressing those issues as they affect investments and national budgets.

Paul B. Scott, president of the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica, who also spoke at the conference, called for greater attention to issues such as access to capital, human resources and other factors affecting the ability of businesses in Jamaica to thrive.

During the three-day conference, presentations were also made by the United States Embassy's Daniel Walker.

The conference was sponsored by the IDB, Scotia Insurance, The Gleaner Company (Media) Ltd and the Development Bank of Jamaica.