The National Competitiveness and Productivity Council (NCPC) officially launched its latest initiative on Monday, April 18, 2016.
The ProCom Challenge, as it is known, was launched at the Government Information Service studio at Hewanorra House in Vigie.
The ProCom Challenge invites businesses to apply for co-financing up to EC$100,000.00 in selected thematic areas, including energy efficiency; compliance with local, regional, and international standards; reduction of operational costs; and improving business productivity.
Prime Minister Hon. Dr. Kenny D. Anthony was the keynote speaker at the ceremony, which was attended by Hon. Emma Hippolyte, Minister for Commerce, Business Development, Investment, and Consumer Affairs; Mr. Rayneau Gajadhar, NCPC Chairman; Mrs. Fiona Hinkson, NCPC Executive Director; Mrs. Jacqueline Emmanuel-Flood, CEO of the Trade Export Promotion Agency; as well as Government and private sector officials.
The Prime Minister – using as his theme “Driving Productivity and Competitiveness Through Innovation” – lauded the initiative, which is meant to help create an enabling environment for higher, sustained levels of economic growth, by targeting micro, small, and medium enterprises.
Said Dr. Anthony,
“Frankly, I am exceedingly pleased that we are reaching out to the small business sector, a sector that has huge potential to create growth and employment.
“The ProCom Challenge was conceptualized by the NCPC with funding assistance from Compete Caribbean. It is a policy response to the domestic challenges highlighted during consultations with the private sector as part of the NCPC Productivity Assessment Study.
“Research from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) suggests that a unit increase in “innovation expenditure” increases labour productivity by 63%. While the importance of innovation is understood by the business community, micro and small businesses in Saint Lucia have reported that a major challenge has been accessing finance for those ventures.
“As a Government, we have noted these challenges. We understand that innovation projects are often expensive undertakings due to the associated risk. Therefore, as part of our commitment in supporting firms to be more productive and competitive, the Government of Saint Lucia, through the NCPC, will be financing the ProCom Challenge.”
The Prime Minister went on to point out that innovation challenges such as the ProCom Challenge are commonplace where jurisdictions are aiming to boost their level of output and effectiveness.
On average, over 20% of firms in advanced economies receive public support for innovation, compared to less than 5% in the Caribbean