Features

St. Lucia As A Science And Technology Hub

Image of Bud Slabbaert
Image of Bud Slabbaert
By Cdr. Bud Slabbaert

OUR unique industry will be floating platforms, some of them mega size, made for purposes that sometimes may be unheard of. We are gathering scientists engineers, and helping young talented people. We bring back highly educated Saint Lucians because we desire their expertise and knowledge. Desire to need? What does that mean?

We want to create a brain gain. How? Birds of a feather flock together! We have created a brain centre called ‘Research and Development Center’. To develop a unique industry related to floating platforms, there will be innovative applications of floating structures. Innovation involves bright creative minds. We shall become trendsetters and become a magnet for knowledge.

Related to our industrial development, we will organize conferences with spice. Not run-of the mill conferences but rather events that become a global benchmark. Such meetings will attract scientists and experts. “We love it,” tourism people will say. “The more hotel rooms we fill, the better. We’ll promote it as intellectual or educational tourism.” Let’s not approach it that way. First of all we have to give it a name that stands out and is exclusive. The expression intellectual tourism is as faded as my blue jeans and so inflated that even going to the local library is considered intellectual or educational tourism. We’ll find a unique name. If nothing else we’ll call it “Innovation Incubator”. Mission? Accelerating thinking processes, heightening perception and increasing capacity of action. We will create a critical advantage over what anyone else is doing. If we want Saint Lucia to be the Science and Technology Hub of the Caribbean, a name like ‘Saint Lucian Innovation Incubator’ conference sounds attractive. Too long of a name? Maybe call it ‘INNO-INCU“ and you have a unique new brand name.

Why is this all so significant? Scientists and experts have something that they always carry with them! Credit Cards? No, knowledge! We want them to leave some of that behind. I’m sure you know what a pickpocket is, even if you disapprove of that type of activity. We don’t want to pick pockets, we want to pick brains. We are friendly people doing things the friendly way. We will socialize and network; get opinions and new ideas. We may start liking each other so much that we could build up an academic friendship and remotely exchange opinions and give each other feedback. There is no reason why this couldn’t go one step further. The next visit may be as guest lecturers in sessions organized by our Research and Development Center. Saint Lucians can broaden their knowledge through such sessions and more visitors will visit the island to listen. Sure they will also enjoy, sun, beach and palm trees; that’s the frosting on their academic conference cake.

But, isn’t that just a different form of tourism? No! There are two industries which are manufacturing things on wheels. One makes bicycles, the other makes cars. Are they therefore the same? Ever heard of a Mercedes or Volvo bicycle? I haven’t. Agreed, they both need rubber tires. So, we are creating the new ‘INNO-INCU’ Industry and need hotel beds. As for culturing coffee beans and losing out on profits made by brokers abroad, knowledge and wisdom is a different story. Knowledge and wisdom can be sold repeatedly; it is not a one-time harvest product. The product may be intellectual property rights. Wisdom and knowledge will only grow, not decrease. The value is high because of the continuous need.

We seem to have created a Research and Development Center that is becoming so significant that at some time it may be considered an ‘Institution of Higher Learning’ educating students. We have created an industrial activity that benefits from that resource centre because it is getting the necessary feedback how to make things better or innovate. Saint Lucia is where it is invented and produced, so, investors will be interested in the nation. Our industry is a test ground for the Research Centre, and the Research Centre on its turn provides feedback to the industry. The interplay may become so meaningful that it converts into a global knowledge magnet. It is a repeating process. Does anyone still want to define and discuss sustainability?

How does this fit in with investors? There are several reasons why certain investors like to have scientists and experts around. Because they reduce or eliminate risk. They have a disposition to inquire about anything with utmost interest. They use evidence to justify conclusions. They have the ability to think logically and to reason out clearly. They can invent and formulate new ideas for the things they have experienced and observed. Scientists make conclusions after examining all data and suspend their judgment until being fully sure that it is correct. So, if an investor would ask again: “Why would I want to invest in Saint Lucia?” How will we come across now?

There is another human species that likes facts and innovation: members of the press corps. If you do special things, it gets noticed; if it is as special as this, the media will take notice. The newsworthiness of Saint Lucia is no better established than by thousands of journalists of the world’s financial press, major dailies, lifestyle publications, all of the trade press and biggest TV channels descending to cover all perspectives and provide millions around the globe access to the trendsetting creations and innovations that we will present exclusively on Saint Lucia. Magazine editors are seeking to discover cutting-edge trends and innovative designs. Bloggers deliver up-to-date editorials to consumers in every corner of the planet. They all contribute to creating an unrivalled global impact and underlining Saint Lucia’s position as the Science and Technology hub of the Caribbean.

I am pleased if you have read all this and may have thought about it. You may actually desire to become part of creating a Masterplan after digesting what was written. This 4-part series started with the question “Why would I invest in Saint Lucia?” and the answer “I would not!” If the same question was asked now, what might be the answer in two words?

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