On Monday 13th January 2020 – UNDP Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean staged “The Blue Tank” where eight innovators pitched their ideas to remedy some of the most pressing challenges facing the blue economy as part of UNDP’s Blue Lab initiative. Each innovator had the chance to gain support through catalytic investment, technical assistance and partnership generation from the development agency.
With three minutes to pitch their concept, the innovators presented to a panel of judges including Resident Representative for UNDP Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean Mr. Magdy Martinez-Soliman, Maritime Legal Consultant in the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and The Blue Economy Ms. Najla King, Policy Adviser for the New Zealand High Commission Ms. Wainelle Alleyne-Jones and Ms. Debbie Estwick from the Barbados Investment and Development Corporation.
The presentations focused on a variety of topics including coral reef restoration, Virtual Reality for Blue Tourism, incentivized recycling, waste to energy, bioplastics, traceable fisheries and coral reef mapping.
Ultimately the innovators who top scored were Kerri- Ann Bovell, Steven Hollingsworth, Selwyn Cambridge and the team of Brian-Lee Chandler and Nikolai Holder. Ms. Bovell impressed the judges with her presentation on the development of a non-food packaging bioplastic made out of starch from local food waste and sargassum from beaches. Mr. Hollingsworth’s impactful pitch was concentrated on coral reef mapping using semi-autonomous underwater drones and Mr. Cambridge garnered favourable remarks for his presentation on the creation of a local traceable fisheries tuna brand using blockchain technology. Chandler and Holder focusing on renewable energy and biogas gave an insightful pitch on the potential of fish waste and other organic waste in the production of bio methane for energy and heating generation.
In addressing the audience UNDP Resident Representative Magdy Martinez-Soliman expressed the support of UNDP for ideas aimed at addressing the ever-present challenges of the Blue Economy. “The Blue Lab is centered on innovation and experimentation. Through our connection to the global Accelerator Lab network, the Blue Lab is developing a portfolio of experiments of interest related to the blue economy. Through capital investments, partnerships and support, the Blue Lab hopes to grow and scale new solutions to blue economy challenges.”
The Blue Lab’s Head of Exploration, Nikola Simpson said “The Accelerator Lab’s Blue Tank brought together a diverse set of individuals with a common goal: to share innovative solutions to challenges in the blue economy in Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean. The Blue Tank was very successful in identifying grassroots solutions to some of the challenges in the blue economy while supporting a much-needed culture of innovation in the region.”
Each innovation brought to the Blue Tank aligned with SDG 14 – Life Below Water, as well as the Blue Lab’s goal of promoting out-of-the-box thinking and experimentation while also contributing to some of UNDP’s innovation areas such as artificial intelligence, big data and blockchain. The Blue Lab will continue to promote “Blue Economy for Green Islands” mapping solutions to challenges facing the blue economy and looks forward to collaborating with all innovators to create a portfolio of solutions while providing them the opportunity to network and create partnerships.
Also in attendance were members of the Blue Lab’s Blue Advisory Group with representatives from The Canadian High Commission, The New Zealand High Commission Bridgetown, The Department for International Development, UK, The European Investment Bank and The Centre for Resource Management and Environmental Studies (CERMES), UWI Cave Hill.