Student Entrepreneurs set to Benefit from UTech, Jamaica Business Model Competition

Student Entrepreneurs set to Benefit from UTech, Jamaica Business Model Competition …Applications Close Oct. 16


Members of the University of Technology, Jamaica (UTech, Ja.) student body are now all abuzz with their new business ideas and ventures for entry into the 2015/2016 UTech, JA. Business Model Competition being hosted by  the Joan Duncan School of Entrepreneurship, Ethics and Leadership (JDSEEL),  College of Business and Management.  The 2015/16 UTech JA. BMC was launched at a special ceremony held on Thursday, October 8, 2015 at The Caribbean Sculpture Park, UTech, JA. Papine campus.  This year, there was a joint launch ceremony with the Young Entrepreneurs Association (YEA) to also recognize, National Entrepreneurship Week (NEW).  The Technology Innovation Centre (TIC), a unit of JDSEEL has had a longstanding relationship with YEA and thus the collaboration was an opportunity to connect with all young entrepreneurs. Now in its third consecutive year, The UTech, JA. Business Model Competition’s main goal is to promote and facilitate strong entrepreneurship pursuits among the student body at the University and to provide student entrepreneurs with the required support to develop their business ventures.  Business ideas are encouraged from the areas of social entrepreneurship, mobile innovation and applications, health and wellness, education, scientific innovation, alternative and renewable energy, and ‘agripreneurship’ and information technology.  Winners of this year’s competition are set to win over two hundred thousand dollars ($200,000) in cash, mentorship opportunities, as well as office space within the Technology Innovation Centre, (TIC), Business Incubator within JDSEEL.


Head of the JDSEEL, Mr. Michael Steele, who chaired the launch event, in his welcome expressed confidence that UTech, Jamaica will get to the very top of the National Business Model Competition to be held in 2016.   He noted that “we have produced excellent results in the past and we placed second in the last competition with the margin of victory between the persons who won, being just about half point.”    One of the student groups who entered the national competition has since received investment amounting to $2.5 M.  Mr. Steele emphasized that the JDSEEL is committed to playing its part in national development by training persons to start their own businesses and to employ others rather than to "find a work" after graduation.  The JDSEEL offers a BSc. degree in Entrepreneurship as well as customized short courses in entrepreneurship through the Technology Innovation Centre (TIC).


Prof. Rosalea Hamilton, Vice President, Development and Community Service, who represented Acting President, Prof. Colin Gyles, told the large gathering of students, sponsors and members of the business community that despite an economy that is not as robust as we would like it to be, Jamaica continues to do a lot in entrepreneurship, relative to other countries.  Pointing to data from the 2013 Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) report done by a team of researchers from UTech, Ja., Prof. Hamilton said that it revealed that more than half of Jamaicans surveyed said that they have started a business or have prospects of starting a business in Jamaica.  Prof. Hamilton noted further that this compares favourably with a survey she led in 2013 on the UTech campus which found that 95% of persons said they planned to start a business at some point in their career.


Overview of the UTech, JA. BMC


Miss Dionne Palmer, Incubator Manager, TIC, gave a comprehensive overview of the Business Model Competition, an initiative which she noted originated from a recommendation from Paul Ahlstrom of Alta Ventures Group, USA who was the keynote speaker at the Jamaica Venture Capital Conference held in Jamaica in September 2013.  He recommended a national business model competition in which Jamaica could field entrants for the International Business Model Competition (IBMC).   Aligned to the rules of the IBMC, she noted that in this regard, the UTech, JA. BMC is designed to “move ideas to a sustainable operational reality,” adding that her interaction with students has revealed that there is “huge potential waiting on the right environment and direction to make millions and to create wealth.”


The top four winners of the UTech, JA. BMC will be entered in the National Business Model Competition organised by a local committee with representatives from UTech Ja., University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona, Northern Caribbean University (NCU), Private Sector Organization of Jamaica (PSOJ) and the Development Bank of Jamaica (DBJ). The winners of the UTech, JA. BMC will be afforded a space in the student incubator located within the Technology Innovation Centre (TIC) at UTech, Jamaica’s Papine campus and will receive coaching for a period of three months to one year.  Students engaged in the competition will now participate in six months of intense booth camps and product development.


Past entrants may re-inter but with a new idea and teams should comprise 2-4 persons.  While non-students may enter, a UTech, Ja. student must be the leader of the team. No more than $1m may be invested to develop the business idea.  Ventures cannot be a franchise, or be a buy-out or extension of existing companies. Some students may submit ideas that they are working on and have worked on for years but Miss Palmer noted the organizers retain the right to reject those ideas if they are going to compromise the competition. Applications are now open and will close on Friday, October 16. 

Student winners are required to reinvest at least 80% of their prize funds into their businesses in the areas of business registration, purchase of equipment, Intellectual Property Protection, legal services and specialised training. 


Groundswell of Entrepreneurship

Hon. Anthony Hylton, Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce in his address applauded UTech, Jamaica for what is being done at the University to foster entrepreneurship, adding that there has been a ground swell of entrepreneurship in this country.  The Minister noted that “institutions such as yours have a critical role to play as intellectual hubs in the entrepreneurial ecosystem and as incubators for innovation and research as focal points of collaboration among researchers, students, government, private sector, and of course, entrepreneurs.”  Giving the assurance that the Government is committed to “ensuring that our entrepreneurs have a fighting chance to thrive and grow in this competitive global business environment,” Minister Hylton announced a raft of policy measures and legislation being undertaken to building a business ecosystem which nurtures and supports MSMEs and makes it easier to conduct business in Jamaica.


Noting that entrepreneurship development in our country needs collaboration at all levels, Miss Palmer expressed gratitude to the faithful sponsors and partners for their continued assistance in making the completion possible.  The programme was endorsed by the major sponsors who were on hand at the launch to express their commitment to supporting the Business Model Competition. The 2015/16 sponsors are: , Joan Duncan Foundation, Development Bank of Jamaica (DBJ), National Commercial Bank Foundation, Sagicor, CTech Solutions and CANCO.