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NCU gearing up to win innovation competition

Published:Friday | March 8, 2019 | 12:25 AM
Dr Audley Eccles
Dr Audley Eccles

Northern Caribbean University (NCU), winner of the 2018 International Business Model Competition, is again seeking to dominate the Development Bank of Jamaica’s (DBJ) National Business Model Competition for tertiary institutions at the sixth staging of the event, slated for March 21 to 23 at The Knutsford Court Hotel.

NCU’s business model teams have dominated the local competition since its inception, having won four consecutive times. Last year, however, the NCU teams finished third and fourth locally, but came up winners at the International Business Model Competition level that evaded them in the previous years when they won the local competition.

Dr Audley Eccles, dean of the College of Business and Management, said the NCU team is in preparation mode and is excited to again participate in the competition. He noted that despite the judges not considering the NCU team as a winner in the competition last year, the university was confident that its team was an outstanding one. So, the institution found the resources and sent its team to participate in the international competition, which it won and made NCU and Jamaica proud.

He pointed out that it has become increasingly difficult to get new and novel ideas for the business model competitions, as many of the concepts have already been exposed. However, he said NCU is confident that the project being worked on has a good chance of winning the competition this year.

honing of skills

The National Business Model Competition (NBMC) is an initiative that encourages and promotes entrepreneurship on the campuses of four local universities and creates a platform for experiential learning and the honing of entrepreneurial skills, as well as develops a pipeline of potential entrepreneurs.

The NBMC is supported technically and financially by the DBJ and the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica. The 2019 competition has received strong financial backing from the Inter-American Development Bank’s (IDB) Multilateral Development Fund, PanJam Investment, NCB Foundation, GK Capital Management, Sagicor Bank, Scotiabank, Burger King, Musson Foundation, PetroCaribe Development Fund, and Blueprint Consulting.

According to Terry Ann Segree Brown, private finance operations specialist with the IDB Lab, the bank’s innovation arm, the organisation has a project with the DBJ to support the development of early-stage entrepreneurial ecosystem in Jamaica.

“Under this programme, we support the National Business Model Competition with the focus being on innovation. We believe the environment is conducive for entrepreneurship at this point, based on the level of innovation in 2018,” Segree Brown told NCU News at the recent launch of the 2019 National Business Model Competition.

“We recognise that it takes a greater level of innovation and entrepreneurship to solve the development problems that are in Jamaica,” she added.

Annually, the national winner is awarded a cash prize of $2 million and an all-expense paid trip to represent Jamaica at the International Business Model Competition, held in the USA during the month of May. This year’s competition will be held at the Brigham Young University, Utah, from May 10-11.

The Jamaican teams have signalled their intention to zealously defend the Global Champion trophy and is committed to seeing it returned to Jamaican soil for 2019.