On Friday, August 30, 2019 ClimateLaunchpad Barbados finalists competed at the national level to vie for a spot in the ClimateLaunchpad Global Grand Final - the world’s largest green business ideas competition.
The ClimateLaunchpad Barbados competition is being executed by the Barbados Investment and Development Corporation (BIDC) in partnership with the Caribbean Climate Innovation Center (CCIC), which is being funded by the Inter-Americam Development Bank (IDB). The programme is part of the entrepreneurship offerings by EIT Climate-KIC, the European Union’s innovation program for climate change.
Barbadians Joshua Forte and Bryan Cummings of Red Diamond Compost, copped first place in the ClimateLaunchpad Barbados National Finals with their biotech business, Red Diamond Compost, which focuses on research, development and the commercialization of organic biologic soil treatment and crop protection solutions. Their products are made from organic waste residuals that may be dumped at the landfill, or cause environmental hazards, such as fish offal and Sargassum seaweed.
Team Red Diamond Compost will be representing Barbados as they battle teams from over 50 other countries for the top prize at the ClimateLaunchpad Global Grand Final in Amsterdam in November 2019.
In second place were Kerri-Ann Bovell and Andwele Waldrond of Modern Terra. They intend to mimic temperate climate conditions by utilizing the island’s plentiful sunlight and wind resources to grow crops that normally wouldn’t grow locally. Their efforts are devised to help offset Barbados’ high food import bill and reduce CO2 emissions from shipping by making farming more efficient. Modern Terra, will also advance to the Global Grand Final in Amsterdam, representing Barbados.
Shakira Busby and Andrew Guppy of Recycle It placed third with their plans for biodegradable tableware from bagasse, cornstarch and recycled plastics. They will join the ClimateLaunchpad Wild Card Competition in the hopes of advancing also.
The ClimateLaunchpad Barbados National Finals followed a period of applications (May-June), a local launch (July), intensive 2-day bootcamp and expert coaching and mentoring sessions. Business development sessions were facilitated by the Caribbean Climate Innovation Centre and mentoring sessions with locally-based experts were organised by the BIDC. These volunteer experts, who shared valuable time and expertise, brought a wealth of experience in finance, business strategy, marketing and presentations. Teams were supported by Finance Mentor, Barbados-based investor and business owner, Juan Lascurain; Marketing and Presentations Mentor, Devin Griffith, CEO and Chief Brand Strategist of the G&A Group; and Business Strategy Mentor, Ivan B. Browne, Finance Strategy and SME Consultant, former President/Vice President/Chairman/CEO/Director of various banks, banking associations and chambers of commerce throughout the region and current Business Planning and Strategy Pillar Leader at the Aspire Foundation.
At the ClimateLaunchpad Barbados National Finals, the teams presented before a team of expert judges – Juan Lascurain; Ayanna Young-Marshall, attorney-at-law, lecturer in International Business at the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus and Coordinator of The UWI’s Student Entrepreneurial Empowerment Development (SEED) programme; and Jari Aaltonen, environmental engineer, sustainable industrial development expert, climate technology entrepreneur and now Manager of the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) funded Barbados Green Technology Cluster,.
This is the first time the Caribbean region, and Barbados specifically, will be participating in ClimateLaunchpad. The overall winner of the ClimateLaunchpad Global Grand Final receives a cash prize of €10,000; the runner up gets €5,000 and the team that comes in third place wins €2,500. All Finalists in the Global Grand Final have the chance to be further accelerated in Europe’s Climate-KIC Accelerator to further grow and expand their start-up idea.
Barbados’ very own cleantech entrepreneur, Carlton Cummins, is an alumnus of the Climate-KIC Accelerator programme. Cummins is the co-founder of Aceleron, an award-winning company that designs and builds advanced lithium battery packs, with a presence in the UK, the Caribbean and East Africa. He was a judge in the early phases of ClimateLaunchpad Barbados. It is the hope of ClimateLaunchpad Barbados Country Lead, Debbie Estwick, to connect talented Barbadians with some of the same kinds of opportunities that Cummins had. She noted that, “Our ideas, solutions and start-ups must not just be good for us: they must be scalable, needed and valued beyond our shores. Our efforts for change are not optional, they are urgent.”
CEO of the Barbados Investment and Development Corporation (BIDC), Sonja Trotman, noted that “This collaboration with the Caribbean Climate Innovation Centre (CCIC) and ClimateLaunchpad presents an opportunity for Barbadian ideators to develop their solutions on a global scale... This is a call to action to support our local entrepreneurs in creating the solutions we need that can help us better cope with, and even mitigate, the effects of climate change.”
Minister of International Business and Industry, the Honourable Ronald Toppin, offered remarks and words of encouragement at the National Finals, noting that “Opportunities like these can be pathways to help Barbadians develop their ideas to become globally competitive businesses.”
He went on to inform attendees of how the Ministry of International Business and Industry (MIBI), in partnership with UNIDO, will be supporting climate innovation startups beyond the competition through a UNIDO-funded Barbados Green Technology Cluster project, headed by locally based Manager from UNIDO, Jari Aaltonen. This project aims to provide a range of incentives to support research and development for qualifying incubator companies. Barbadian businesses will have further options for green technology support, right here in Barbados... The Barbados Green Technology Cluster incubator programme, through funding and support from UNIDO, includes valuable benefits such as free access to office and maker space; grant financing for lab equipment and prototyping (up to a proposed $10,000USD per company), access to business intelligence services and coaching support and more. The Minister extended the invitation for teams from ClimateLaunchpad Barbados to also apply for access to this local 3-year green technology incubator programme.
Additional sponsorship support is being sought to go towards offsetting costs for sending the top two local teams to represent the island of Barbados at the Global Grand Final in The Netherlands. Thus far, local company Williams Solar: a subsidiary of Williams Industries has joined as a sponsor. The UNIDO-funded Barbados Green Technology Cluster has also pledged support.
For more information or to pledge support, please contact the BIDC at firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 427-5350.