The future makers re-imagining the Caribbean
The Pivot movement is harnessing the Caribbean’s most innovative ideas. As CEO of the Caribbean Climate-Smart Accelerator (CCSA), I am delighted to be a part of Pivot as it works to address the region’s longest standing and most urgent challenges.
The pandemic has shown how necessity can bring about fast and incredible innovation. The once accepted timelines for vaccine development were crushed last year due to urgent global need – this type of innovative thinking (and doing) is a reminder of what can be achieved when great minds focus on great goals. While we are not out of the woods when it comes to COVID-19, we also cannot forget the other global crises in need of our attention.
Communities across the Caribbean repeatedly battle with the most disastrous impacts of climate change. In response, we need our regional leaders and entrepreneurs to employ courageous innovation, to think big and to work together. Innovation will be our strongest and most powerful tool when it comes to building future physical and economic resilience.
The launch of Pivot started something incredible. From the moment Prime Minister Mia Mottley of Barbados shared her evocative opening presentation, calling on Caribbean nationals to shed “our lack of cultural confidence” and take up the mantle of innovation – the perfect tone was set.
“We have been that region that has led the world in humanisation. We have been that region that has continued to focus on the centrality of that individual person. We have been that region that has sought more for social justice. We can be that region that explores new possibilities and new realities for the twenty-first century for the globe,” said the Prime Minster.
The CCSA joined the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) to host the two-week intensive event, with facilitators from Singularity University leading over 60 innovators from the English, Spanish, Dutch and French-speaking Caribbean, and from North and South America.
Richard Branson encouraged attendees to think beyond boundaries and showed belief in the region rising to the innovation challenge: “I’ve always performed best when people have counted me out. From my time in the Caribbean, I know that they are ready for this.”
Throughout the event, participants worked in groups to generate ‘moonshot’ ideas, focussing on digital transformation, electric mobility and the re-imagining tourism. In the end, nine ambitious moonshot ideas were chosen – deemed to be the most innovative, exciting and best placed to help revolutionise the region by 2040.
From green hydrogen vessels for air and sea transport, to virtual Caribbean cultural immersive experiences, to undersea, efficient manufacturing, to personal digital identities to simplify trade, healthcare and education, to ambassadors of abundance, mental wellbeing, and inner peace and carbon credit tourism economy, the ideas did not disappoint.
As said by Therese Turner-Jones from the IDB: “The Pivot movement is a vehicle for Caribbean transformation driven by ideas. It gives anyone anywhere the opportunity to help shape the future of our region. We are creating an innovative space where pioneering minds will discuss moon-shot ideas to drive a more resilient and secure future for all Caribbean people.”
We are in the process of building the final nine moonshots into a manifesto for Caribbean transformation, alongside developing a roadmap for future funding. Everyone involved is excited to see these moonshots develop and I look forward to sharing updates with you in the coming months.
Since Richard Branson first launched the CCSA in 2019 we have witnessed a groundswell of innovative ideas and movements. And we, alongside Virgin Unite and our wider partner network, are committed to seeing the region reach its full entrepreneurial potential and become a global innovation leader in resilient technologies.
In this time of great innovation – as we see medical breakthroughs, travel breakthroughs, and life-saving solutions for our shared planet – we should take note that when humanity is placed at the heart of our work, there is no limit to what can be achieved.