The challenge was ambitious: Participants were challenged to refine business solutions to climate change in less than three days. But the reward was even bigger: Many of the participants hoped to join the cohort of entrepreneurs supported by the World Bank Group’s Caribbean Climate Innovation Center and see their ideas grow into viable businesses that could catapult the region to the top of the global green economy.
Initiated by the World Bank’s Entrepreneurship Program for Innovation in the Caribbean (EPIC) and sponsored by the Government of Canada, the bootcamp brought together 85 clean-tech entrepreneurs selected from over 150 applicants from all across the region.
The young crowd of entrepreneurs was introduced to the bootcamp with a “speed dating”-style exercise designed to showcase the innovative ideas being developed and the creative minds behind them. Later in the day, the group explored the ideation process, attended a session on pitching strategies, and took part in a team-building activity.
On the second day of the event, the entrepreneurs refined their business concepts through a five-phase process focused on prototype development and business model design.
On Sunday, the final day of the bootcamp, the teams took to the central stage at the University of West Indies (UWI) to pitch their ideas in front of an audience of international experts and representatives from the World Bank. The young participants impressed the judges with innovative ideas, such as a domestic hydropower plant, a “fish-and-worm” ecosystem, and a power outlet regulator controlled by a smartphone.
It was the latter concept—Plug-N-Pree, presented by Yekini Wallen-Bryan—that won the $1,000 grand prize. The $500 second prize was awarded to Aquaponics for their water conservation solution. Another water purification solution, Purefect, was awarded third place and $250.
In his address to the audience, guest speaker Dr. Parris Lyew-Ayee, head of UWI’s Mona GeoInformatics Institute, challenged the entrepreneurs to think beyond the local market.
“The ideas you’re working on are not constrained to Jamaica,” he said. "You already took the first step by being here.”
The Green Tech Startup Bootcamp in Jamaica will serve as a blueprint for future bootcamps in the Caribbean, as the World Bank’s EPIC initiative guides growth-oriented entrepreneurs from mentorship and incubation to acceleration, funding, and beyond.
The World Bank’s Entrepreneurship Program for Innovation in the Caribbean (EPIC) is a seven-year $20 million program funded by the Government of Canada that seeks to build a supportive ecosystem for high-growth and sustainable enterprises throughout the Caribbean.
Watch a video about the bootcamp produced by the Caribbean Climate Innovation Center.