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Young techies vie for US$10,000 in Digital Jam 3.0

Saturday, March 01, 2014 | 5:02 PM    

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KINGSTON, Jamaica (JIS) - Young technology innovators from across the Caribbean, including Jamaica will be vying for the US$10,000 top prize in the Digital Jam 3.0 “Caribbean Edition” mobile application competition.

The competition closes this weekend with the Digital Jam 3.0 “Caribbean Edition” GET UP, START-UP Conference, at the University of the West Indies (UWI) Regional Headquarters in St Andrew, from Saturday, March 1 to Sunday, March 2.

Launched under the Digital Jam 3.0 “Caribbean Edition” initiative in December last year, the competition aims to bring together the best young mobile developers in the region and connect them to commercial partnering, resources and mentoring.

Speaking at a press briefing on the conference at the offices of the Ministry of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining in Kingston on Thursday (February 27), state minister in the ministry Julian Robinson informed that over 720 Caribbean youth signed up for the contest.

“After an initial screening of concepts submitted, about 160 are coming to Kingston this weekend and will be pitching their prototypes in front of international judges,” he said.

During the five-minute pitching sessions, finalists from Haiti, Dominica, Nevis, Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados, Antigua, and Jamaica, will also be competing for prizes such as tablets, laptops and other computer devices as well as smartphones in the four categories of the competition.

These are: the ‘Pioneers of the Caribbean’, which invites participants to define problems then come up with their own solutions; ‘Game changers’, which is a contest to develop a gaming application; ‘Stunning beginners’ for non-specialists using open-access software; and an e-learning category to allow people to build apps, which will complement what the Government is doing in its e-Learning project.

The conference, which builds on the success of Digital Jam 2.0 in 2012, will bring together global and Caribbean technology entrepreneurs and business experts, as well as youth from across the region to discuss employment and business opportunities.

Turning to how the Government plans to sustain the initiative following the competition, Robinson noted that teams selected will be offered virtual incubation by the EPIC programme.

This is a four-year programme funded by the Government of Canada, which will provide them with training in technical, marketing, legal, intellectual property, and business issues. The goal of the programme is to prepare each team for investment preparedness by the end of 2014.

“We will have an angel investor network, which will be explored at a roundtable to be held on March 2, which will be jointly organised by the World Bank, the Development Bank of Jamaica, the Private Sector Organization of Jamaica (PSOJ) and Jamaica Promotions Corporation (JAMPRO),” he said.

Robinson noted that there will be representatives of two angel investor networks from the United States, who will attend and facilitate the roundtable as well as lay the basis for collaboration between the Caribbean and US-based angel investors. He noted that angel investors are high net worth individuals, who invest their own resources in technology entrepreneurs.

“The World Bank is also supporting the Government in designing, over a five-year period, a programme to support the establishment of a viable tech entrepreneurship and animation ecosystem, which we believe, provides the basis for sustained economic growth, employment creation and foreign exchange generation,” he said.

Digital Jam 3.0 “Caribbean Edition” is a regional initiative launched by the Government of Jamaica in partnership with the World Bank, which seeks solutions to high youth unemployment in Jamaica and the Caribbean via new opportunities in the virtual global economy - including new niches such as MicroWorks, e-lancing and the applications economy.

The initiative is also supported by the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) Secretariat, the Caribbean Development Bank, the Government of Canada, private sector Information and Communications Technology (ICT) companies, and other international development partners.

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