The Blockchain Innovation Initiative (BII) in the Caribbean

Leveraging Disruptive Technologies to develop economies in the Caribbean.

1. CONTEXT

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:

Click here for more information on the 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://medium.com/@lacchain.official; or GitHub: Open source code repository test-net https://github.com/lacchain/besu-network


STEP 2 - Click Here for Additional Information

1. THE CALL FOR SOLUTIONS

 

This Call for Solutions is targeted at blockchain companies that already have a proof of concept to solve any of the problems listed in Step 1 (https://competecaribbean.org/news/caribbean-blockchain-innovation-initiative-categories/ ). 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).

 

2. BENEFITS TO YOUR COMPANY

Up to 15 blockchain service providers will be selected to pitch their solution live to the audience of problem owners at the Blockchain Symposium. In addition, the pitch sessions will be live streamed to the relevant stakeholders/potential demanders in each category across 13 Caribbean countries. Each organization will have 10 minutes to present and 15min for Q&A. Selected presenters will receive a complementary ticket for the 2-day event as well as accommodation for the 2-night stay in Barbados. Transport cost will have to be covered by the participating companies.

 

In addition to the pitch sessions, the Blockchain Symposium will feature meeting points to build relationships with the problem owners and other participants to enable deeper discussions about the application of the technology. Each company will have space for a small booth or a table with chairs to engage stakeholders. This relationship building will hopefully lead to the design of pilot projects that can be funded by Compete Caribbean or supported by the IDB Lab and LACChain.

 

Your organisation will be eligible to apply for grant funding to pilot your solution in collaboration with a Caribbean entity[1]. $25,000 to $100,000 per project selected will be allocated in technical assistance grant to support pilots in the Caribbean.

 

3. ELIGIBILITY CRITERIA FOR PARTICIPATING IN THE PITCH SESSION

 

The following are required criteria to apply for this call:

  • Your firm or entity must be registered in any of the IDB member countries. (See here: https://www.iadb.org/en/about-us/who-we-are)
  • Your firm or entity must have a proof of concept already in progress or completed.
  • A representative from your firm or entity must be available to pitch live on April 9, 2020 in Barbados
  • Ability to pay your own traveling expenses to attend the Symposium in Barbados.
  • Your firm or entity should have a strong interest in working in the Caribbean. Any pilot project selected must be implemented in any of the 13 Compete Caribbean beneficiary countries: The Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Guyana, Jamaica, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, St. Lucia, St. Kitts and Nevis, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

 

4. APPLICATION PROCESS

 

Please submit your proposal via email to blockchaininnovationinitiative@gmail.com and cc competecaribbean@iadb.org. Include the subject : “Call for Blockchain Solutions [Company Name]”. Visit the CBII website for updates. https://competecaribbean.org/news/blockchain-innovation-initiative-bii/ . Your submission should address the following questions within a maximum of 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://medium.com/@lacchain.official; or GitHub: Open source code repository test-net https://github.com/lacchain/besu-network

 

 

5. EVALUATION CRITERIA

 

(25%) Alignment of solution with the problem tackled given the context in the Caribbean

(25%) Technical Capacity of the Firm including a demonstrated proof of concept (PoC)

(25%) Potential impact on inclusive and economic development in the Caribbean

(25%) Ability to pitch live at the symposium and interact with potential customers, policymakers and collaborators

 

6. TIMELINE

 

Milestones Dates* 
Final Submission Deadline March 9, 2020 (midnight)
Announcement of finalists March 13, 2020
Blockchain Symposium and Launch of Call for Proposals (2 days) April 8-9, 2020
Pitch and networking sessions (2nd day of symposium) April 9, 2020
Proposal development for grant funding April 2020
Proposal Selection Date to be confirmed
Pilot Implementation if selected 2020-2021

* Dates are approximate and subject to change

 

7. FAQS

 

  1. Why the focus on blockchain technology?

Blockchain technology holds a host of opportunities for helping small economies to improve the efficiency and value-added of products or services offered by public and private organizations. The increased transparency, immutability, and traceability of Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) such as blockchain can ultimately improve the ease-of-doing business, facilitate compliance to and monitoring of regulations, reduce transaction costs, address inclusive access to cost-effective digital payments within and across borders, as well as enable the monetization of ideas, talent and intellectual property.

  1. Is there any further information on the blockchain innovation initiative?

See presentations here:

    1. Webinar recording at UWI: https://shridathramphalcentre.com/src-idb-special-lunch-time-chat-on-blockchain/
    2. Blockchain Presentation 2: https://onedrive.live.com/?authkey=%21AEW97x7UCSIaR48&cid=6DA89D219B3425AA&id=6DA89D219B3425AA%212357&parId=6DA89D219B3425AA%21358&o=OneUp
  1. Will the companies selected at this stage be evaluated based on their pitch to win the grant?
    • Companies selected at this stage will be not be evaluated based on their pitch. Companies selected will be invited to pitch their solutions to the selected problem owners at the Blockchain Symposium. They will have the unique opportunity to build relationships with potential customers in a comfortable environment for public officials. The grant award process will be described and detailed when the Call for Proposals is launched at the blockchain symposium.
  1. What is the maximum grant amount per pilot?
    • Details of the financial assistance will be shared at the launch for the Call for Proposals and will be determined later based on the potential impact of the projects proposed jointly by the problem owner and blockchain company, the number of projects selected, etc.
  2. What is the value of applying at this stage to pitch to Caribbean entities and policymakers?
    • The Caribbean market is a great opportunity for realizing projects that can be scaled. The Step offers blockchain solution providers with the ability to develop face to face relationships with key stakeholders from the Caribbean region who are interested in applying blockchain technology to address their challenge and to position themselves amongst these high profiled stakeholders The greatest challenge typically is to find Caribbean entities committed with the leadership and budget to expand a pilot if successful. This is why we will bring together the entities that expressed interest for doing so with the experts at the Symposium and provide opportunities for meaningful interactions.
  3. Can blockchain companies send 1 offering per use case/project, or should they provide only 1 submission for all possible use cases/projects? Would we be allowed to bid for several use cases?
    • Companies can submit an application to as many problems as they deem fit within their area of interest and expertise.
  4. What level of readiness are the blockchain companies expected to be at?
    • The companies should have a proof of concept. See evaluation criteria for how blockchain companies will be selected.

[1] Details will be shared at the Blockchain Symposium.

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

 


STEP 3 - Click Here for Additional Information

 

The Blockchain Symposium (Step 3)

April 8-9, 2020

Errol Barrow Center for Creative Imagination

Barbados

 

To register to the Blockchain Symposium, click here: https://blockchainsymposium.dryfta.com/index.php

 

 

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.

 

DAY 1 – Can blockchain be the backbone of the 4th Industrial Revolution in the Caribbean?

The first day will provide an opportunity for professionals, entrepreneurs, educators and policy makers to learn how this technology can transform the sectors most relevant for the Caribbean economy. Diverse panels involving Caribbean and international experts will share their experience with real use cases. The list of speakers will be updated on the event page and BII website once confirmed. The list of topics to be covered is below.

 

Session Topic Objectives
1 Blockchain 201

 

What is blockchain, how has it evolved, and what are the benefits of the different types of blockchain networks?
2 The case for digital transformation in the Caribbean and the need to explore disruptive technologies such as blockchain Can blockchain be used to improve ecosystems and delivery of public and private services?
3 Citizen empowerment and digital identity How has blockchain-based digital identity been used to empower citizens?

 

4 Financial inclusion and fintech in the Caribbean Can blockchain help Caribbean Miro, Small and Medium (MSMEs) leapfrog into the digital era?
5 Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) – Thought leadership How Caribbean central banks are carving a path forward in innovative thinking around blockchain.
6 Trade and regional integration – Smart contracts All about smart contracts, tokens, and blockchain’s potential impact on regional integration and trade.
7 Women and blockchain Innovation A discussion with women leading solutions in the blockchain space

 

8 Funding opportunities and next steps Understand funding opportunities available – call for proposals and next steps

 

DAY 2 – Pitch sessions from some of the most successful/promising blockchain companies in the world

Up to 15 blockchain service providers selected from the Call for Solutions will be selected to pitch their solution live to the audience of problem owners during day 2 of the Blockchain Symposium. Each selected blockchain service provider will have 10 minutes to present and 15min for Q&A. To be eligible, the blockchain companies must have a proof of concept already in progress or completed (See Call for solutions for details on the application process). These pitch sessions are meant to enable private and public entities attending the event to learn about and explore how blockchain can solve their problem. It is envisioned that the pitch day will stimulate potential business relationships which could evolve into a proposal eligible for funding by Compete Caribbean or the IDB Lab. Both programs are seeking innovative and scalable solutions to foster inclusive and sustainable economic development in the region.

 

In addition to the pitch sessions, the Blockchain Symposium will feature meeting points to build relationships between the problem owners, potential solutions’ providers and other participants to enable deeper discussions about the application of the technology.

 

Day 2 – April 9, 2020

Pitch Sessions

Time Categories of Caribbean challenges Caribbean Problem owners[1]
8:30 – 9:30 am 1. Digital transactions and money

o   Cross-border swap agreements to process currency exchange

o   Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC)

o   Mobile wallet

o   Online payment especially in the context of community-based tourism in the Caribbean

·  Caribbean Settlement Network (CSN)

·  Caribbean Tourism Organisation (CTO)

·  Dominica Cooperative Societies League

·  Central Banks (invited via video conference)

 

9:45 – 10: 45 am 2. Post-disaster insurance claim processing ·  Climate Resilience Execution Agency for Dominica (CREAD) in Dominica

·  Large insurance companies operating in the Caribbean invited

11:00 – 12:00 pm 3. Traceability ·  Fine Cocoa company

·  Cocoa Research Center (CRC) at UWI

·  Brasso Seco Morne la Croix Farmers Association (honey)

12:00-1:00 pm Lunch
1:00 – 2:00 pm 4. Digital identity ·  Barbados Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (MIST)
2:15 – 3:15 pm 5. Monetisation of intellectual property ·  Association of Caribbean Copyright Society (ACCS)
3:30 -4:30 pm 6. Land/ Property/ vehicle registry ·  Ministry of Information Technology in St. Kitts

·  Ministry of Science, Innovation and Technology in Barbados

4:45 – 5:45 pm 7. Customs ·  Ministry of Trade and Industry in Trinidad & Tobago

**For more information on each category being explored on Day 2, please visit: https://competecaribbean.org/news/blockchain-innovation-initiative-bii-2/

 

 

To register to the Blockchain Symposium, click here: https://blockchainsymposium.dryfta.com/index.php

[1] These are entities that have submitted challenges at Stage 1 and have been selected to attend the symposium to network with blockchain providers to learn more about blockchain technology.

Forthcoming. Call for Proposals will be launched on April 8, 2020

 

 Forthcoming.

 

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

(www.competecaribbean.org)

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

(https://bidlab.org/en/about

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.

 

About LACCHAIN

(see video clip)

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://medium.com/@lacchain.official

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

 

About IDB

(https://www.iadb.org/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.

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