UTech incubator looks to strengthen programme
The University of Technology’s (UTech) business incubator facility, Technology Innovation Centre (TIC), has assisted young entrepreneurs in generating combined turnover of $20 million per year, according to manager of the facility, Dionne Palmer.
“The clients of the TIC hire an average of two to five persons, are all registered entities, and generate a combined turnover of $20 million on average per annum,” Palmer told the audience during the hosting of TIC’s annual client awards ceremony earlier this month.
She added that the centre is working to strengthen its incubation programme for greater impact on the economy and the sustainability of the incubated business ventures, and as such appeals for support through grant funding, mentorship, sponsorship, and other forms of partnership.
The Technology Innovation Centre, launched in 2002, was developed to help kick-start small businesses by providing guidance to young entrepreneurs. The facility this month named five individuals whose business ventures were incubated in a special unit of the university’s Joan Duncan School of Entrepreneurship, Ethics and Leadership (JDSEEL), in the College of Business and Management (COBAM) as “outstanding entrepreneurs” in five different categories.
TIC’s Top Residential Client Award went to Stacy Kirk, CEO of Quality Works Consulting Ltd — a consulting firm specialising in software quality and process innovation; while the Top Platinum Client award was presented to Wayne Harrison of International Work and Travel Service, a work and travel company for tertiary level students.
Proprietor of Elite Leaders International, Mark Williams, whose company focuses on training in cash flow management, entrepreneurship, investment, leadership, sales and marketing, was presented TIC’s Top Virtual Client Award; while the Top Anchor Tenant award went to Dr Kavian Cooke, lecturer, School of Engineering and proprietor of electronic supplies company Naivak Electronics.
The Trailblazer Award as well as the Top Client of the Year award was copped by UTech, Jamaica alumnus Gordon Swaby, CEO of the online social learning platform that combines study and play, Edufocal Ltd.
Commenting on the achievements of the graduates of the incubator, Palmer noted that more than 260 clients have been nurtured in the residential, virtual and shared space programmes offered by the TIC since its establishment.
She added that the graduates and clients have already impacted Jamaica’s economy, with some gaining equity and investment in their businesses, as well as receiving numerous local and international awards.
The awardees were judged on the criteria of achieving and surpassing goals, and the extent to which they are making an impact on the wider Jamaican and global communities.
Vice-president of Community Service and Development, Professor Rosalea Hamilton, in her welcome commended the TIC for its efforts in successfully carrying out its mission of nurturing young entrepreneurs at the growth and development stage of their start-up technology-based business, ventures and asserted that the awards signify important achievement milestones.
She lauded the TIC for the work that it has been doing since 2002 in incubating external start-up businesses as well as business ventures by students and faculty at UTech, Jamaica.
Senior Assistant General Manager, Retail Banking Division at the National Commercial Bank, Loren Edwards shared insights on the use of information technology to transform businesses for success in a globally competitive environment
Edwards, who was guest speaker at the event, highlighted the emergence of net entrepreneurs who profitably use the Internet to manage all aspects of their businesses.
While noting that IT is the “backbone of an ever-changing world economy”, Edwards lamented that Jamaica lags behind at 83rd position out of 139 countries on the world ranking of the 2016 Global Information Technology Report.
He added that countries on top, such as Switzerland, Finland and Singapore, have taken advantage of combining entrepreneurship, IT and innovation in an effort to develop their economies. Edwards is now calling on Jamaica’s young entrepreneurs to embrace these imperatives for the sustainability and success of their business ventures.
— Karena Bennett