Michael Gordon, driving entrepreneurship

Michael Gordon is the Chief Innovative Officer at the University of the Commonwealth Caribbean. He is the steward of various innovation activities, ensuring that the customer is at the centre of product development and service delivery. His mission is to extract and manifest the shared vision and aspirations of the UCC community; this includes students, faculty, staff, partner schools, and our local and international partners and clients.

Gordon has a long history of developing new products and services within the education, agricultural, geo-spatial, payments and finance industries. He has led the deployment of large distributed, national, and multi-stakeholder systems that have improved the well-being of all Jamaicans. He has a BSc and MSc in Computer Science from the University of the West Indies.

Before joining UCC, Gordon worked with Spatial Innovision Limited, where he supported upgrading various public and private sector GIS systems, resulting in better performance and efficiency of services delivered to multiple Jamaican homes. He also worked with the Victoria Mutual Building Society and the Rural Agricultural Development Authority. Gordon leads UCC's innovation activities, ensuring that all voices and ideas have a welcoming environment where they can flourish. Developing processes and systems that reduce the barrier of entry for new services drive growth for existing services—emphasising increased efficiency, productivity, ease of use and quality customer experience, thus ensuring a return on investment for students, faculty, staff and the Jamaican people.

Gordon's responsibilities include the direction of the UCC Innovation Entrepreneurship and Technology Centre, which is responsible for attracting resources and building an ecosystem of preserving dreamers, brilliant innovators and relentless achievers. They facilitate joint research and development, technology transfer and licensing, and the commercialisation of student, faculty, and partner research. They also provide start-up coaching, innovation workshops, ideation and product development, business development services, digital marketing support, and capital strategy. They are working with industry leaders to create new opportunities for innovation and coordinate various initiatives that drive the diffusion of new products and services into diverse communities to achieve a better quality of life for all citizens.

The Innovation Center works with other units within the UCC Group of Companies training units such as UCCA, which provides vocational training and associate degrees for young high school graduates, Academic Affairs, which offers professional degrees, Corporate Education which provides staff development for Jamaican businesses, the Business Development and Consulting Institute which provides grants, business plans, financial statements, tax compliance, company registration and legal services as well as business and entrepreneurship workshops and training for higglers, SMEs and multinational firms. Spectrum Capital Partners provides Private Equity and financial advisory services, as well as Remax Elite which offers real estate services.

Gordon believes in ecosystems, the strength of community and collaboration and worked hard to attract many partners to the Innovation Centre, such as the DBJ, JIPO and the JBDC, as well as educators, researchers, technologies, coaches, accelerators and incubators, banks and microfinance firms, venture capitalists and private equity firms. His dream is to create an ecosystem of service providers working toward an equitable world where all individuals get multiple opportunities for happiness, progress and prosperity regardless of social status, origin, level of education, religion, politics and creed.

The UCC staff under visionary leadership has dedicated their lives to creating a centre of learning and excellence focused on innovation, leadership and entrepreneurship. They believe that Jamaica needs to transition to a culture of education to achieve high employment. The vision is to create a one-stop shop to move high school students, higglers, seasoned professionals, businesspeople and PhD researchers into innovators, start-ups and successful businesses, creating jobs and improving services for the global economy.

"Jamaica, as a country, has battled against disenfranchisement, exploitation, and dehumanisation to achieve political freedom. However, as we now sit at desks with lofty titles in well-adorned buildings, it is keen to remember that the war against inequality, exclusion and cruelty of one man to another continues. The baton has been passed to a new generation nurturing Jamaica's natural entrepreneurial culture, aggressive investment and development of export-oriented industries to achieve economic growth, distribution of wealth, economic liberation, limitless opportunities and dignity of the individual," Gordon predicts.

Michael Gordon believes in driving innovation and entrepreneurship. (Photo: Joseph Wellington.)

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