UNIVERSITY of the West Indies (UWI) Principal Professor Brian Copeland innovation is an absolute necessity as the Caribbean needs talent, energy and innovation to address serious economic and social challenges it currently faces.
He made the call on Thursday night at the Matriculation Welcome Ceremony 2018 held at UWI Sports and Education Centre, UWI, St Augustine Campus.
“I want to tell you that who you will become, is who you practise being in the now. And our hope is when you leave here, you will be, among other things, an innovator.”
He described an innovator as anyone who has developed something anew – a product, a process, a system, a policy, a different form of art or music – that brings real benefit to humanity.
“It is about a mind-set, a mentality that allows you to use new and current resources to find new ways to do things. It allows you to create new business ideas, fix issues in civil society or in the ecology, and create social value.”
Copeland said innovation blurs the lines between disciplines and does not exclusively exist in engineering, science, and business.
“In fact, it knows no bounds.”
He said innovation was in the reach of every student in the room.
“And our hope is that you will grasp that possibility and use your potential to create products and processes that will make Trinidad and Tobago, Bangladesh, New Zealand, Dominica, Ghana, Indonesia, The Netherlands or wherever you call home a better place.”
Copeland said personally he was named inventor on several patents filed in many countries across the world but because of the lack of the right infrastructure in the Caribbean it was taking a painfully long time to commercialise inventions so they can truly become innovations.
“However, we at the UWI have taken it upon ourselves to overcome the hurdles that I and other faced by building the systems that will make it significantly easier for you to mature your ideas for material or other benefit. We plan to do this long before I complete my term in office in three years – when most you would be graduating.”
Copeland said innovation was an absolute necessity in the Caribbean and in TT for far too long economic success was pegged on the few large oil and gas sector.
“The global drop in oil and gas prices, the reduction in our oil and gas production levels, compounded by recent revelations about Petrotrin all make it clear that this modus operandi simply has to change.”
“As those who, in a short time, will inherit the future, we need you – you need you – to stretch your imaginations more than we have done and capitalise on the renewable natural resource that is your intellect, your imagination and your creativity.