Gov't, OAS partnership to establish youth innovation centres
In a bid to transform the 11 existing youth information centres (YICs) into innovation hubs, the ministry of youth recently signed a letter of intent with the Trust for the Americas, to partner on sourcing funding and expanding the Democratising Innovation in the Americas (DIA) Lab model now in Jamaica.
A non-profit establishment affiliated with the Organization of American States (OAS), the Trust for the Americas funds a number of projects in and around the Caribbean and Latin America involved in youth empowerment and engagement.
The DIA Lab project which was implemented by the Trust and the Institute of Law and Economics (ILE) earlier this year, seeks to equip urban youth to be innovators by training them in cutting-edge technologies and giving them the tools necessary to transform their communities.
“The idea for innovation spaces is really to help young people move from business ideas to business plans and actual businesses. It’s about creating the next generation of entrepreneurs,” remarked Floyd Green, minister of state in the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information.
Green pointed out that the spaces would have both mentors and resource personnel in place to aid with funding of business ideas as well as to guide youngsters through operating a business.
While noting that the next step is to formalise a memorandum of understanding, Green stated that plans were already afoot to rollout a pilot in three centres across the parishes of St James, Clarendon and St Catherine.
“Both are actively in the field as partners looking for external funding so that we can expand much quicker than we originally forecasted. We also want to bring some new centres on because we don’t have a youth centre in Kingston and St Andrew. So, we’re forecasting that by 2019, we’ll be able to construct a model youth innovation hub for Kingston and St Andrew,” added Green.