After a two-year hiatus due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Development Bank of Jamaica (DBJ) and the Private Sector Organization of Jamaica (PSOJ) are preparing to host the seventh edition of the National Business Model Competition (NBMC).
The competition will see new entrants, the University of the Caribbean Commonwealth (UCC) and the College of Agriculture, Science and Education (CASE) join the list of higher education institutions competing to win the title coveted national.
A total of 15 teams from five universities on the island will compete for bragging rights and cash prizes totaling J$4 million on April 7-8. Participating teams include four from the University of Technology Jamaica (UTech), four from the University of the West Indies (UWI), two from Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts, two from CASE and three from UCC .
Milverton Reynolds, Managing Director of DBJ, said: “The NBMC is an initiative that brings together the creative minds of students enrolled at these institutions…As such, student entrepreneurs are part of a major effort that is being put on the development of a strong entrepreneurship ecosystem.
The competition, over the years, has sought to create a robust entrepreneurial and startup ecosystem for Jamaica while fostering creativity and critical thinking among students at graduate-level business schools. To that end, the addition of CASE, a Portland-based agricultural college, and UCC, a seven-campus institution, signals the continued growth of the initiative which is now organized through the BIGEE program recently launched by the DBJ.
Reynolds explained, “BIGEE, which stands for ‘Boosting Innovation, Growth and Entrepreneurship Ecosystems’, is a five-year US$25 million Government of Jamaica program funded by the Inter-American Development Bank. Its objective is to support the growth of local micro, small and medium-sized enterprises, with an emphasis on those that use technology.
PSOJ Executive Director Imega Breese McNab added that this new focus is proving timely for this year’s competitors.
She said: “There is a saying, ‘in every crisis there are opportunities’. Our silver lining here is that due to the digital transformation caused by the pandemic, the projects entered into this year’s competition are all digitally enabled and heavily tech-focused… [So]we look forward to nurturing some of Jamaica’s future business leaders by providing them with experiential learning as part of their entrepreneurial development.
This year, additional financial support for NBMC will come from corporate sponsors PanJam Investment, Musson Foundation, Scotiabank Jamaica, Sagicor Jamaica, GK Capital Management, Burger King, Delta Capital Partners and Blueprint Events.
Jamaican universities achieved outstanding results in the 2019 international competition as Ja Bio Plastics from UWI and CCML Formula and Xermosol from UTech were listed as semi-finalists, while MarijTech from Northern Caribbean University (NCU) received a mention. honorable.
This follows major successes in 2018 when NCU’s Beasc Technologies received first place bragging rights, the Global Champion trophy and US$30,000; UWI Eco-Structures won second place with a cash prize of US$20,000 and UWI’s Queritel ranked among the top 10 out of 42 universities in the world.
Business modeling, aimed at reducing the failure rate of start-ups, differs from a static business plan and focuses on evaluation interactions with customers then pivot and change course based on lessons learned.
The national competition was conceived at the inaugural DBJ Venture Capital Conference held in September 2013 by keynote speaker, Paul Ahlstrom of Alta Ventures Group, Utah, USA, who along with Joseph Matalon (former Chairman of the DBJ), offered to fund the prize for the winner if local universities collaborated.
The competition was designed to help young entrepreneurs who need mentors, coaches and angel investors to provide the capital needed to grow their business while helping them turn their business ideas into reality.