SPOTLIGHT: Natasha CORBIN lives in Barbados and is a certified Project Management Professional (PMP) who joined the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus in June 2001. She is in charge of the managing grant-funded projects on behalf of the University.
The CAP4INNO Project and its relevance?
The main purpose of the " Knowledge Transfer Capacity Building for Enhanced Energy Access and Efficiency Project in the Caribbean (CAP4INNO)” is to support the role of universities in their responsibilities in promoting knowledge transfer and offer relevant training programmes to students and professional staff (both academic & management staff) in order to provide a solution to the challenges faced by the renewable energy sector in the Caribbean region.
This project is particularly relevant to our country and institution since it provides an avenue through which the University is able to facilitate training to academics, management & professional staff in areas such as Intellectual Property, innovation, entrepreneurship, renewable energy and energy efficiency in order to build the required skills and capacity needed to support the sector. In addition new courses were developed for both students and professional staffs in order to expand the offerings of the educational programmes provided by the university relating to the sector.
The project has provided an avenue for researchers and project management professionals to work collaboratively with major stakeholders engaged in the sector, including government intellectual property offices, entrepreneurs and industries. This paves the way for sharing of ideas and dissemination of research and project information.
The CAP4INNO Project and your role?
My involvement in the project was to manage the day-to -day project activities for the University of the West Indies’ components of the project. I was also involved in some of the technical research work (e.g. Needs Assessment survey and survey to complete stakeholders’ dialogue report) as well as participating in organising and conducting replication workshops, developing modules for the E-Learning programme & training programmes. I also organised meetings and the final conference.
What are your expectations from the results?
It is expected that the project will contribute towards building a pool of trained professional in the fields of innovation, entrepreneurship, intellectual property and renewable energy and energy efficiency in the Caribbean. A greater collaboration is foreseen amongst the HEI partners and national Intellectual Property Offices
The renewable energy sector in the region is poorly developed due to the lack of expertise and limited access to latest technologies and knowledge. The trainings that the project has facilitated will bridge the gap of this lack of skilled professionals especially in a few critical disciplines necessary for the enhancement of the renewable energy and energy efficiency sectors. It is anticipated that skilled professionals will be available to the job market and will continue to work with local and regional communities to develop innovative technologies that can provide sustainable solutions to meet their needs. In the next five years it is predicted that there will be more growth in the renewable energy sector in the region and therefore more creation of jobs to boost socio-economic development.
At the institutional level, Universities were provided with training material and also developed new curriculum through the train-the-trainers programme. The new courses developed by universities will facilitate on-going training activities which supports the sustainability of the project initiatives. The project also provided equipment and software to advance research and development in the renewable energy field.
What are your expectations from the results?
At a personal level, the project has provided a number of positive impacts especially with regard to my professional development because it encompassed training in a number of areas which is integral for my job. Having the exposure to the training has enhanced my competencies and thus my overall performance. I now feel that I have the necessary skills and can apply the knowledge to continue to foster development in the areas that I have been trained. I can also support my other colleagues in these areas in order to bring about greater efficiencies and effectiveness when dealing with the subject matters.
Have you identified any impact to date?
The multifaceted nature of the project has promoted the involvement of a number of stakeholders who have benefited greatly from the project outcomes. These included staff members from HEIs (both academic and management levels), professionals in government and private institutions, businessmen, NGO's, policymakers among others.
One of the primary benefits is the improved knowledge and capacities of staff members to take greater action with respect to the transfer and exploitation of innovative solutions for enhanced energy access and efficiency in the Caribbean.
It has also fostered more collaboration among the stakeholders involved, more openness and transparency in communication. There is also more awareness and visibility regarding organisations engaged in the sector, as well as university programmes in intellectual property, entrepreneurship, innovation, renewable energy and energy efficiency.
In addition, this project has promoted more networking among the various sectors.
A number of articles relating to the CAP4INNO project were published in the National Press and via this publicity we were able to connect and collaborate with more entities working in the sector of renewable energy.