How many brilliant ideas and inventions are languishing right now because of a lack of financing, business connections or marketing know-how?
UWI Ventures, an initiative that draws on UWI’s business, finance and marketing ecosystem, is seeking to tap into those ideas and help realise them.
The entrepreneurship and innovation hub has just launched its new online portal, uwiventuresltd.com and new VenturesApp, to make accessing its services simple and seamless, providing mentorship, guidance and coaching 24/7, 365 days a year. With the new digital platforms, clients will now have access to confidential entrepreneurship, business planning, innovation and research support, and access to partnerships and investment.
Referring to the September 1 website launch, UWI Ventures Executive Chairman and Professor of Practice – Innovation and Entrepreneurship Gerry Brooks declared: “The pandemic will not stop us!”
He said, rather than establishing a physical base of operations first, the decision had been taken to “lead with digitalisation”, because “it is cost-effective, ubiquitous and efficient — online and ‘real time'”.
He advised that UWI Ventures is “a fully incorporated company, with a board of directors and a very strong private sector DNA.
UWI Ventures Chief Operations Officer Mr Julian Henry explained, “the website and the UWI VenturesApp, are interconnected. Logging into the website allows you to learn about us and the ecosystem, and how it functions. There is an access form that allows you to register directly for the VenturesApp and its coaching and mentorship services.
“We’ve created a seamless digital experience for our entrepreneurs and innovators.”
Henry said UWI Ventures is “a key part of the UWI ecosystem,” which also includes the St Augustine Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (StACIE), the Entrepreneurship Unit (EU) and the faculties, centres and institutes at the campus. The coaching service, which is free for UWI staff and students, is also available to the wider public, he explained. There will also be a number of workshops offered with discussions on business ideation, business models, marketing strategies, cash flow planning, and management.
Brooks described the way the initiative works: “After getting (a project) to the stage of refining the business model and creating an investable proposal, UWI Ventures takes over strategically, looking at where potential market opportunities are, to position your idea with partners and investors to facilitate its commercialisation. “If you have an innovation, we will interrogate it vigorously. If it is unique, we will, where appropriate, seek to license, patent and/or commercialise. UWI Ventures will also tap into its network of local, regional and global partners to ensure accelerated commercialisation and internationalisation of worthy projects.”
We have so many young students involved in agricultural, engineering, and chemistry projects. Many are worthy of commercialisation. With the right fine-tuning and partnership, [their concept] could quickly become a multi-million-dollar idea.
“We work together to make that entrepreneurial journey successful.”
Brooks said, “we have so many young students involved in agricultural, engineering, and chemistry projects. Many are worthy of commercialisation. With the right fine-tuning and partnership, [their concept] could quickly become a multi- million-dollar idea”.
He said the company is working closely with the Government and private sector entities. They are also working regionally and globally to maximise potential links for innovators and entrepreneurs.
Through presentations and memoranda of understanding, he said, they are focusing on outreach: “where innovators have ideas and projects that could be of benefit to the third party institution. We are creating those linkages.”
“We are also reaching out to them to avoid overlaps in the system and to avoid gaps, so instead of each entity doing its own thing, we can have a cohesive ecosystem.”
Brooks added that UWI Ventures plans to produce regular reports on their activities, to provide “a formalised view of the system and be able to direct funding far more surgically.”
Innovators and entrepreneurs are encouraged to visit the new site at uwiventuresltd.com to learn more.