Lisa Dublin, a graduate of the University of Guyana (UG), and Dr Dawn Fox, a senior lecturer in UG’s Department of Chemistry, are the winners of the inaugural 2018-2019 Guyana Innovation Prize.

The Innovation Prize is an initiative of the Guyana Economic Development Trust (GEDT), an independent U.S. based philanthropic organisation that incubates and supports start-up enterprises to boost the private sector of Guyana. The award provides pre-seed funding to commercially viable research in agro-processing and technology from students, alumni, and faculty of the University of Guyana. The total prize is US$10,000 and it will be presented to the winners at the Diaspora/Entrepreneurship conference in July.

The GEDT also partners with the Guyana Marketing Corporation to provide Innovation Prize Fellows with technical support, including market analysis, product-market fit, supplier sourcing, and package design. This helps move the product idea from the laboratory to the shelves, homes, and offices.

The Guyana Innovation Prize sees promising research ideas being selected based on a competitive application process. Selected Innovation Prize Venture Fellows are then paired with mentors, both in and outside of Guyana, over a 12-month period, to help develop business plans and revenue models for commercially viable, scalable businesses.

The winning team’s project is based on using processed coconut as a low-cost water filtration solution. The focus of the project is to optimise the production of granular coconut-shell activated carbon to produce a low-cost activated carbon that is effective in improving water quality.

According to Ms Oslene Carrington, Chief Executive Officer of the Guyana Economic Development Trust, “Through the fund, the Diaspora has an opportunity to give back to our society using a platform that is not connected to anything except a desire to see really great things happen.”

She emphasised that it is “…a desire to empower our university, a desire to empower our young people, and a desire to empower our intellectuals to develop new ways of doing things, things that will ultimately have our country thriving and successful.”

Vice-Chancellor of the University of Guyana, Professor Ivelaw Lloyd Griffith, lauded the initiative and said, “Major kudos to Ms Carrington and the Guyana Economic Development Trust for this powerful initiative, which is a major way to celebrate and incentivise Entrepreneurship and Innovation. Let me also extend congratulations to the winners — Senior Lecturer Dr Dawn Fox and alumna Ms Lisa Dublin — who are innovation frontrunners.”

Professor Griffith further stated, “Ms Carrington approached me with the idea last year as a way to support Project Renaissance’s emphasis on entrepreneurship and innovation and to give back to her native land. The splendid work she and her team have done in the Diaspora and in Guyana in bringing the idea to fruition is itself a powerful example of innovation. I deeply appreciate it.”

The Vice-Chancellor also thanked the individuals at UG who were part of the collaboration that translated the idea into reality: Dr Gerry Yaw, Director of Strategic Initiatives; Professor Leyland Lucas, Dean of the School of Entrepreneurship and Business Innovation (SEBI); and Dr Troy Thomas, Director of Undergraduate Research.




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