COMMENTARY: Top research and development in the Caribbean

Which are the top ten leading territories for research and development in the Caribbean? No? Top five? How about three? Is it because the region doesn’t need any research and development? That is strange. Because the most developed countries in the world also spend the most money on research and development. One would think that they are so freaking developed already that they really don’t need more of it. Is it because they can spend more since they have more funding available for it? Or is it that they have more funding as they have invested more in research and development and are benefiting from it?

The development of an R&D Center (Research & Development) is a crucial element to contribute to the development and dissemination of new rigorous evidence and innovative products, methods or technologies that provide practical solutions to issues, confrontations and problems that must not be overlooked in the Caribbean. The findings may in their turn encourage other positive developments which will support economic and industrial advances and may benefit humanity and the environment in the region.

I must admit that I’m not an R&D scientist. Neither have I ever been inside a refrigerator but I’m quite sure that the light goes out when the door is closed. So, let’s not argue before we find out things. It provides nourishment and exercise for the mind. My favorite R&D subject would be creating hydrogen fuel from seawater.

The Bahamas has 30 plants on several islands that use diesel fuel for their electricity generators. Importing fuel has a price tag. Fossil fuel causes pollution. Scientists on four continents have proven beyond reasonable doubt that hydrogen fuel can be produced from seawater. This hydrogen fuel can be used to generate electricity without pollution. No imports. No fossil fuel dependency. No increases in fuel prices. A country could produce its own fuel from the seawater around the islands. Significant cost savings! The hydrogen fueled electricity generator does not need to be large. It can be any size for any purpose. So, theoretically any of the hundreds of islands could have a generator.

A private business as an example. Take Sandals Resorts, for one because it has about 17 resorts throughout the region that are typically adjacently located at the sea. They could have their own generators. Cost savings! And if a private business generates too much power, it could be fed into the government owned power grid via the existing infrastructure. Just an example of how a development from one development can be applied to various islands in the region. The company has its own Sandals Corporate University which is more focused on hospitality interests. But one could imagine that a company with their Corporate Social Responsibility and Vision may be willing to take a look or support such energy R&D.

Every territory in the region has a budget for education. Do they have a budget for R&D? Notreally, why not? No R&D may mean no innovation! Likely also no economic diversification due to a lack of thinking and exploring. Politicians and other decision makers may just sit and wonder how to handle things that one is not good at. But then again, how can one be a successful leader if one cannot even handle things that one is not good at or not acquainted with? Maybe constituents may wonder about that also.

R&D spending can lead to breakthroughs that can protect the well-being of communities. Ever thought about developing hurricane stealth architecture? The structures being so stealth that the hurricane wouldn’t even know it was there to take a swipe at. Now it is the other way around that the hurricane takes a swipe, and the structure is gone.The Caribbean may be a test ground or laboratory for studying any kind of impact of how extreme external conditions may be impacted and what can prevent disasters.

A Caribbean R&DCenter shall be the place where scientists and engineers will meet, plan, investigate,

and test methods, technologies and products typical for the region.The conclusions and solutions of may be applied in other regions worldwide with geographic or socio-economic similarities. Just think of the many archipelagos like Maldives, Seychelles, Canary Islands, Azores, etc. Too many to mention. It represents an opportunity whereby new products or services may result in new technology export business.

The investment in R&D will pay off. Investment in research and development is the lifeblood of many private sector organizations in highly developed countries and integrated in their company’s strategy and business plan and is often tax deductible. It is supported by governments. R&D is an essential driver to spur innovation, invention, and progress.This matter is also important to national economies and plays a crucial role in GDP growth.

Stanford University researchers were already in 2019 able to create hydrogen fuel from seawater. Scientists at the University of Houston have developed a catalyst which can efficiently produce hydrogen from seawater. Its discovery significantly advances the development of seawater electrolysis for large-scale hydrogen production. Why not connect, cooperate and become associated?

It is envisioned that a Caribbean R&D Center shall eventually find its own place in the international community of Research and Development Centers and could eventually become an Institute of Higher Learning. It will provide inspiration and feedback for ambitious future projects. An educational center that will motivate young people in the region to become part of the development of their own Caribbean rather than going abroad. It could encourage brain gain and halt a brain drain.

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  1. Lo
    August 10, 2023

    I’d like to take my lab experience back home to the motherland, myself. But I’d need a team. I’m a biologist but I’m sure I’d be able to help.

  2. Roger Burnett
    July 18, 2023

    I might add that research and development need not necessarily be on a large scale with scores of workers. Much of my work involves R&D and although it is done on a small scale by me alone, the results can be significant, both locally and internationally.

    I have found that overseas universities and manufacturers are very willing to share their expertise, especially when it comes to the novelty of linking with a small island in the Caribbean. My research into papermaking from Dominica’s abundant natural resources is a good example of such linkages.

    • Cdr. Bud Slabbaert
      July 20, 2023

      I wish that more people would understand such. It often takes just one bright mind. Many of the great inventors of the past started alone by themself.

      • Roger Burnett
        July 20, 2023

        Unfortunately, what “bright minds” are up against in the Caribbean is the reluctance of government agencies and old established businesses to accept innovation, especially when the suggestion comes from one of their own.

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