Rum & Sargassum ready to collab with other HIT RESET projects

Dr Legena Henry is excited about sharing knowledge and leveraging strengths with other project leaders in the same space.

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Dr Legena Henry, CEO and Founder of Rum & Sargassum Inc., is excited about exploring new collaborations with other organisations working to develop innovations to increase resilience in coastal communities of the Caribbean.

The Barbados-based company produces affordable, fossil-fuel free, renewable biofuel for cars, using low-cost locally sourced organic inputs including rum industry wastewater, Sargassum seaweed and Barbados Blackbelly sheep manure. 

Its latest project, called SarGASsum, has two deliverables: to set up Barbados’ first biofuel service station, and to develop a mobile app that predicts Sargassum seaweed biomass influx patterns into the island’s exclusive economic zone and coastal waters.

The SarGASsum project, which will run for 18 months, is backed by a €300,000 research grant from the Harnessing Innovative Technologies to Support Resilient Settlements on the Coastal Zones of the Caribbean initiative, called HIT RESET Caribbean. 

The regional initiative, which includes concurrent projects in Dominica, Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Saint Lucia, and Trinidad and Tobago, is being implemented by UWI St Augustine, the Caribbean Disaster and Emergency Management Agency and Anton de Kom University of Suriname. It launched in May at a Third Party Projects Kick Off Meeting at the Torarica Hotel, Paramaribo.

At the launch, project leads were encouraged to connect and collaborate with other project implementers across the region, to leverage strengths, share knowledge and discover new synergies.

“We really look forward to collaborating with projects led by Jamaica-based Spatial Innovation, as well as the Caribbean Natural Resources Institute (CANARI) and Habitat for Humanity, both based in Trinidad and Tobago,” Dr Henry said.

Spatial Innovation’s project is called “Bluefields Climate Smart and Resilient Settlement.”

“Spatial Innovision has provided drones to this region for many years and will assist us in being prepared for our physical data capture via marine-environment-safe underwater and above-ground drones,” she said.

CANARI’s project is called “Integrating digital technologies and participatory tools to support coastal community resilience in Trinidad and Tobago” (Tech4CoastalResilience). 

“CANARI has a project which can very likely benefit from our Sargassum biomass prediction map as they work with rural coastal communities throughout Trinidad and Tobago, including fishers. CANARI has also been in the grants space for decades, so they are very much a source of general wisdom on grant navigation,” she said.

Habitat for Humanity’s project is called “Building Resilient Communities.”

“Habitat for Humanity is building an app and working closely with coastal communities where a strong pipeline for local indigenous knowledge will be built to help community resilience and we plan to improve our skills in stakeholder engagement from them,” she said.

Speaking at the SarGASsum project launch in Bridgetown in June, Dr. Graham King, UWI HIT RESET Caribbean Team Lead and Director of the UWI St Augustine Centre for Innovation & Entrepreneurship, explained why those kinds of collaborations matter.

“A very beautiful aspect that came out [of the Suriname launch] is an understanding among the different projects of how they can benefit from each other. So, we don’t have nine independent projects anymore. We now have nine interrelated and synergistic projects.  That means we’re no longer relying only on technology transfer from outside of the region. But within the region, we’re utilising our common expertise, knowledge and approaches,” he said.

The HIT RESET initiative is funded by the African, Caribbean and Pacific Innovation Fund and the Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific States’ Research and Innovation Programme, through the financial contribution of the European Union. 

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