(L-R) Dr Keith Nurse President- COSTAATT, Ms. Vashtie Dookiesingh Private Finance Operations Lead Specialist- IDB Lab, Mr. Omar Mohammed CEO- Cropper Foundation,Dr. Sherwyn Millette, Dean of COSTAATT City Campus
The College of Science, Technology and Applied Arts of Trinidad and Tobago (COSTAATT) City Campus hosted a yet another pioneering event on January 12, 2024, with the launch of the Full Circle Challenge, a circular economy business pitch competition. This initiative is a collaborative effort between COSTAATT, the Cropper Foundation, and is funded by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) Lab.
Dr. Sherwyn Millette, Dean of COSTAATT City Campus and the project lead for the challenge, opened the event, introducing the competition. The key points from Dr. Millette included:
– The Full Circle Challenge, open to local participants, aims to promote circular economy businesses that operate on sustainability principles, minimizing waste and maximizing resource use.
– The competition features three categories: New and budding entrepreneurs (inclusive of students), Small and medium enterprises (registered for at least one year), and Non-governmental organizations. Each category offers the opportunity to win TT$100,000.
– Interested participants must submit their business documentation along with a pitch describing their products or service’s circularity. Application forms and rules are available on www.idontevenknow.com, with the deadline for submissions set on February 29, 2024.
– Competitors who advance past the initial screening phases will benefit from mentoring and training provided by various academic departments of COSTAATT.
– The final judging phase, reminiscent of the television show “Shark Tank,” will involve external experts selecting the three winners of TT$100,000 for each category on June 8, 2024.
Following Dr. Millette’s opening, Mr. Omar Mohammed, CEO of the Cropper Foundation, expressed excitement for the launch of the Full Circle Challenge. He emphasized its role as a key component of the larger project, “Catalyzing and Connecting the Circular Economy in Trinidad and Tobago,” funded by the IDB Lab. He quoted one of the Foundation’s founders, highlighting the importance of collaborative efforts in addressing challenges. He also expressed his anticipation for the many examples of circularity and entrepreneurship that will be sparked by the challenge.
Ms. Vashtie Dookiesingh, Private Finance Operations Lead Specialist at IDB Lab, explained the Lab’s role as an innovation laboratory dedicated to supporting sustainable development and entrepreneurship in Latin America and the Caribbean. She commended the grassroot approach of the Full Circle Challenge, which aligns with the broader project’s goals of addressing waste issues and promoting circularity.
Dr. Keith Nurse, President of COSTAATT, expressed gratitude to the Cropper Foundation and IDB Lab for their invaluable partnership in spearheading the Full Circle Challenge. In his remarks, Dr. Nurse underscored that initiatives like the Full Circle Challenge serve as pilots, indicative of the transformative projects that the College aims to instill as part of its institutional DNA. He elaborated on the applied learning construct at COSTAATT, citing the COSTAATT Upskilling Academy as a tangible embodiment. The academy provides students and alumni with access to educational and business incubator services,
including niche training, micro-credentialing, and technology labs, fostering practical learning and real-world experimentation. He emphasized that such applied learning initiatives at COSTAATT can assist in addressing the deficit in research and development spending in the region.
The final speaker, Mr. Derek Luk-Pat, CEO of The Trinidad & Tobago National Petroleum Marketing Company Limited (NP), congratulated COSTAATT and its partners on the Full Circle Challenge initiative, hailing it as a monumental achievement in steering the nation towards circular economy practices, a global trend in the business world. Mr. Luk-Pat elaborated on the fundamentals of efficiency, waste reduction, and value retention embedded in circularity. He emphasized the challenge businesses face in adopting circular practices, noting that circularity requires collaboration across value chains and, at times, even with competitors. Circular economy, Mr. Luk-Pat highlighted, extends beyond recycling and demands a holistic approach to production, consumption, and environmental and social considerations. Mr. Luk-Pat commended COSTAATT for its educational role in advancing circular economy awareness, noting that education will be key in promoting the circular economy’s significance to the public.
The Full Circle Challenge demonstrates COSTAATT’s continuing leadership toward the incremental process of building a local ecosystem that fosters circular economy practices to address critical environmental challenges.