COSME, a European Union funded programme, conducted a study visit to one of the world’s most inventive cities, Eindhoven, Netherlands to learn about its strategy in creating high tech incubators. Eindhoven has successfully attracted hundreds of businesses, many of them startups and over 10,000 researchers in the high tech industry to work in their city incubators.
COSME and its Business Support partners from the different OCTs travelled there with the intention to better understand Eindhoven’s approach and methodology to translate this information into effective incubator solutions for the OCT’s. This study visit was to specifically understand how to create the right environment or ecosystem to encourage such trailblazing entrepreneur growth in the OCT respective regions.
Representing Montserrat on the tour were Agatha Aspin, the COSME representative for the island along with business strategist Nerissa Golden.
“Eindhoven has developed a model of how to create new businesses which are providing useful technology in a way that no other tech community is doing. It was a very valuable experience to see many different configurations of incubators and to learn from the founders who they were set up and how they continue to evolve,” explained Golden.
Providing fertile training ground and strong collaboration between public and private bodies is critical to breeding successful startups whether it be in one of the larger OCT islands like Aruba or one of the smaller ones like Saba. The first challenge that faces all Caribbean islands is their small populations that are spread out over distant geographic locations. COSME, has developed an online incubator platform called CaribConnect.net in order to address these challenges. This online platform run by the Chambers of Commerce allows businesses in the region to register for free. This system is readily accepted in the region with more than 300 registered businesses in just two short months. CaribConnect also allows those registered businesses to source a mentor or investment opportunities.
“It is critical to have access to industry experts, financing and other mentor resources in order to ensure the success and growth of the new business as we as build a hub of inspired entrepreneurs.“ said Diana Hendrickson-Fleming, COSME Team Leader.
This study visit showcased the need to build comradery and effective support systems to develop successful incubators. Successful entrepreneurs are motivated and encouraged when working in stimulating environments with others who have similar visions and deep passions for their work. This sort of effective incubator planning inspires new ideas and possibilities exactly the result for which OCT’s are strategically planning.
Participants of the study tour to Eindhoven returned to their respective islands inspired and motivated to find a way to offer their entrepreneurs an incubator environment that will encourage business growth. The OCTs are able to learn from one another plus share success stories, ideas and failures. This allows all the OCTs to benefit and evolve. This same format must be made accessible for each islands’ entrepreneurs. The CaribConnect incubator platform initiates the process with the support and direction as required from the Chambers that run the platform to ensure its educational value and requested resources are readily accessible to its entrepreneur sector. This study tour in the Netherlands was able to showcase the types of content and support that are best suited for start ups and innovative hubs.
COSME’s support of the Caribbean OCT region (12 Overseas Countries and Territories: Anguilla, Aruba, Bonaire, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Curaçao, Montserrat, Saba, St. Barthelemy, Sint Eustatius, Sint Maarten and Turks and Caicos) is demonstrated by its recognition that there is a real need to educate and support micro, small to medium sized business development in the OCT region.
COSME is a 54 month programme with the responsibility to allocate 15M Euros to projects benefitting participating Caribbean Territories. The funds were made available by the European Union (EU). The programme’s overall objective is to contribute to the sustainable and climate-resilient economic diversification and prosperity of Caribbean OCTs by improving the competitiveness of Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) in the participating territories.
See photos by Nerissa Golden of the Study Tour to Eindhoven, the Netherlands here…..https://www.facebook.com/nerissa.golden/photos/?tab=album&album_id=1256961227667856