Dr Legena Henry, CEO and Founder of Rum & Sargassum Inc., shared her perspectives on the challenges involved in commercialising research and development at a recent debate aiming to support unlocking the innovation potential of the seventy-nine member states of the Organization of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS).
Titled “How to fast-track commercialisation of R&D outputs in the Organization of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS) member countries, the online event took place on September 21, as part of a Science Summit on the sidelines of the 78th United Nations General Assembly in New York, USA.
Rum & Sargassum Inc. is a Barbados-based start-up that produces affordable, fossil-fuel free, renewable compressed natural gas to power motor vehicles, using low-cost locally sourced organic inputs including rum industry wastewater, Sargassum seaweed and Barbados Blackbelly sheep manure. The startup was one of three innovation projects selected to present perspectives at the OACPS debate.
In March, Barbados-based startup Rum & Sargassum Inc. was competitively selected to receive a €300,000 research grant from the Harnessing Innovative Technologies to Support Resilient Settlements on the Coastal Zones of the Caribbean (HIT RESET Caribbean) project, for fostering climate resilient coastal communities. Rum & Sargassum Inc. produces affordable, fossil-fuel free, renewable compressed natural gas using low-cost, locally sourced organic inputs including rum industry wastewater, Sargassum seaweed and Barbados Blackbelly sheep manure.
The HIT RESET grant goes toward implementation of a pilot biogas automobile refueling station, and a Sargassum Biomass Prediction mobile app to help predict Sargassum seaweed biomass influx patterns. HIT RESET Caribbean is funded by the ACP Innovation Fund and the Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific States’ (OACPS) Research and Innovation Programme, with the financial contribution of the European Union.
Members of the OACPS Research and Innovation Partnership Support Facility, Mr Mucktarr Darboe, Director of STI, Ministry of Higher Education, Research, Science and Technology, Gambia and Mr Tom Peter Migun Ogada, Chairman of the Board of the Kenya National Innovation Agency (KNIA), presented their experiences on improving policy when it comes to science, technology and innovation.
Georges Rebelo Pinto Chikoti, Secretary-General of OACPS, opened the debate by encouraging stakeholders in all OACPS member countries to tap free the potential for innovation, and promote research and development as a cross-cutting foundation to every sector.
Moderator Gerard den Ouden, OACPS Research and Innovation (R&I) Programme Manager, focused the debate on two key issues:
- How to create an environment that promotes collaboration between academia, industry, government, and civil society and accelerates the uptake of R&D outputs;
- And how government policies and regulations can best support the commercialisation of R&D outputs while protecting the public interest.