'Jamaica must innovate or stagnate'
Scientist and entrepreneur Professor Henry Lowe is warning that 20 per cent of current available jobs are forecasted to become obsolete by the impact of technological changes in the next five years.
According to Lowe, this requires the urgent creation of new jobs through entrepreneurship in science, technology, and innovation.
Lowe was one of several presenters at a recent conference hosted by the University of the Commonwealth Caribbean in Kingston under the theme 'Innovation, Technology, Leadership - A Paradigm Shift'.
The presenters agreed that innovate or stagnate is the choice that faces the Jamaican economy, which must respond to the profound technological changes with a 'paradigm shift' in the application of innovation and technology to create wealth.
"The conversion of knowledge and novel, implementable ideas into products, processes, or services for commercial and public use for wealth creation," said Lowe as he defined the innovation needed.
According to Lowe, innovation uses technology and improves quality of life. He argued that innovation and entrepreneurship combined are the major drivers of wealth creation.
Lowe charged that the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) is fertile ground for innovation in niche industries such as health and wellness tourism, nutraceuticals and food technologies.
He pointed to opportunities for innovation and entrepreneurship in science and technology at the global level. These include:
- Tourism - US$7.6 trillion (2016).
- Health & wellness tourism - US$ trillion (2016).
- Nutraceutical - US$295 billion by 2022.
- Medical marijuana - US$55.8 billion by 2025.
- Information and communi-cations technology - US$3.5 trillion.
- Pharmaceutical - US$1.3 trillion by 2020.
- Global agribusiness - US$5 trillion estimated to increase by 70 per cent by 2050.
But with Jamaica and its CARICOM neighbours spending minuscule resources (less than point one per cent of GDP) on research and development (R&D) - a critical ingredient for sustained innovation - Lowe pointed to the need for national partnership.
He urged the private sector to step up to the plate and increase total expenditure on R&D and innovations.
"Low innovation results in uncompetitive economies," said Lowe.
"High-impact innovations contribute significantly to the high GDP in developed and emerging economies," added Lowe.