The Blockchain Innovation Initiative (BII) in the Caribbean
Leveraging Disruptive Technologies to develop economies in the Caribbean.
The impact of disruptive technologies such as blockchain can be enormous for small, remote and developing economies in the Caribbean. In one instance, it can significantly increase the efficiency of administrative procedures and facilitate compliance with regulations in both the public and private sectors which in turn, can improve the ease of doing business. In another, it can facilitate inclusive and cost-effective financial services to conduct business within and across borders, which is a pervasive obstacle to increased global exports and/or intra-regional trade.
The Caribbean region is already exploring the application of blockchain to solve diverse problems. At the regional level, a Caribbean Settlement Network (CSN) has been established with the support of the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) to investigate how cutting-edge technology could dramatically reduce non-tariff trade barriers such as transaction fees and currency transfers. Some central banks such as the Central Bank of The Bahamas and the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) are also exploring the use of distributed ledger technology (DLT) to issue digital currency. This move could provide opportunities for financial inclusion that the cash economy does not, particularly for vulnerable groups. The need for innovation to solve these and other problems, as well as heavy investment from global blockchain companies such as IBM, AION, Polymath and Bitt have contributed to the emergence of a blockchain innovation hub in the region. In Barbados, the government has established a regulatory sandbox to test the feasibility of blockchain-based innovation within the financial sector in a controlled environment. However, the potential for research, revenue generation and employment creation go far beyond financial technology or cryptocurrency.
Blockchain technology can transform legal services, real estate, tourism, trade, human rights, democracy and others, which in turn can have a substantial impact on productivity, growth, and inclusiveness. On the labor markets front, the global demand for blockchain skills has exploded, with demand far exceeding supply. In 2018, there were 14 jobs available for each blockchain engineer. These are jobs that lend themselves to remote work – I.e. they could be provided from anywhere, including the Caribbean. The University of West Indies responded promptly to this global demand by collaborating with diverse private stakeholders to offer relevant blockchain workshops and courses for its students. If the Caribbean develops a strong competency in blockchain, this can fuel not only blockchain applications to solve Caribbean problems, but also outsourcing of blockchain skills and solutions abroad – offering yet another opportunity for growth in the Caribbean.
Within this dynamic context, the Blockchain Innovation Initiative (BII) was designed to build on the impressive progress made over the past few years in the blockchain space – both at the Caribbean region and global level.
2. THE BLOCKCHAIN INNOVATION INITIATIVE (BII) IN THE CARIBBEAN
In October 2019, Compete Caribbean launched the Blockchain Innovation Initiative (BII) in the Caribbean in collaboration with IDB Lab’s LACChain. The BII is an innovation challenge seeking to (i) raise interest about the value of blockchain as an innovative technology for inclusive and sustainable economic growth in the region; and (ii) build a pipeline of projects that can be funded by Compete Caribbean and/or the IDB Lab to pilot the application of blockchain solutions to Caribbean problems.
The Call for Challenges was targeting public and private entities in the Caribbean that have a problem which can be solved using blockchain technology. The applicants were asked to describe their challenge, those affected, their motivation for solving it, and the resources available to pilot a project in case a blockchain solution was found. Based on the 30 submissions received, the following 12 entities were selected and invited to attend the pitch session on the second day of the Blockchain Symposium. Their challenges were summarized into seven categories:
This Call for Solutions is targeted at blockchain companies that already have a proof of concept to solve any of the problems above. If selected, the service provider will be invited to pitch its solution live to the problem owners and a wider audience at the Blockchain Symposium on April 9th, 2020. The pitch sessions will be live-streamed to the relevant stakeholders/potential demanders in each category across 13 Caribbean countries. Each organization will have 10min to present and 15min for Q&A from the entities that expressed interest in exploring blockchain as a solution to their problem (see list of problem owners selected via the call for challenges).
Interested companies must submit a brief proposal (before MARCH 9th, 2020) addressing the following questions within 10 pages or 20-25 slides:
(A) What category(ies) is your firm intending to address through this proposal?
(B) What is your experience with blockchain technology and with the business area / problem targeted?
(C) What solutions have you developed with blockchain technology in that business area? Tell us briefly about your proof of concept.
(D) What would be your solution (high level) to the problem presented specifically for the Caribbean entity interested?
(E) Confirm whether you are able to attend and pitch live at the symposium on April 9th in Barbados.
(F) If relevant, how would you leverage the use of the LACChain protocol in this project? (see overview; Medium: https://firstname.lastname@example.org; or GitHub: Open source code repository test-net https://github.com/lacchain/besu-network
|The Blockchain Symposium is a two-day event designed to facilitate public-private dialogues and stimulate innovation in the Caribbean. The objective is to better understand the value and relevance of this innovative technology, build trust and foster collaboration.|
To register to the Blockchain Symposium, click here: https://blockchainsymposium.dryfta.com/index.php
|Forthcoming. Call for Proposals will be launched on April 8, 2020|
ABOUT THE ORGANIZERS
The Blockchain Symposium represents a collaborative effort between Compete Caribbean, the Caribbean Blockchain Alliance, The University of the West Indies, IDB Lab and LACCHain.
About Compete Caribbean
Compete Caribbean is a multi-donor facility whose objective is to support the Caribbean region in increasing productivity and Caribbean firms’ contribution to economic growth, by providing technical assistance for business climate reforms, cluster initiatives, and innovation. The program, jointly funded by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the United Kingdom Department for International Development (DFID), the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) and the Government of Canada, supports projects in 13 Caribbean countries.
About IDB LAB
The IDB Lab is the innovation laboratory of the IDB Group which seeks to catalyze innovation for inclusion in Latin America and the Caribbean. IDB Lab has a risk tolerance fit for high impact projects with support for early stage companies, from ideation all the way up to scale.
LACChain is a regional program of the IDB Lab that was born with the purpose of accompanying and accelerating the development of the blockchain ecosystem, seeking to maximize the social impact potential that the technology has to offer.
Medium: Detailed publications on LACChain https://email@example.com
GitHub: Open source code repository for LACChain test-net https://github.com/lacchain/besu-network
LinkedIn-LACChain updates https://www.linkedin.com/company/lacchain-ecosystem/
Twitter-LACChain updates https://twitter.com/lacchain?lang=en
The IDB Group is the leading source of development finance for Latin America and the Caribbean. It helps to improve lives by providing financial solutions and development knowhow to public and private sector clients. The group comprises the IDB, which has worked with governments for 60 years; IDB Invest, which serves the private sector; and IDB Lab, which tests innovative ways to enable more inclusive growth.
The Shridath Ramphal Centre for International Trade Law, Policy & Services
The Shridath Ramphal Centre for International Trade Law, Policy & Services of The University of the West Indies, Cave Hill is the Caribbean’s premier trade policy training, research and outreach institution. The SRC is best known for its Master’s in International Trade Policy (MITP) programme, now in its sixteenth cohort, which has trained trade policy professionals across the Caribbean and the world. The Centre also runs several short courses. Its outreach activities include its monthly SRC Lunch Time Chats, its Trading Thoughts columns, as well as periodic lectures, panel discussions and events on trade and trade-related issues of contemporary interest. Further information may be gleaned from www.shridathramphalcentre.com.
The Caribbean Blockchain Alliance
The Caribbean Blockchain Alliance is an NGO dedicated to promoting the adoption of blockchain technology in the region. It lobbies, educates, informs, guides and fosters blockchain tech throughout the Caribbean with a core focus on regional integration.