Innovation in Cayman

| 30/01/2011

I applaud Premier Bush’s announcement of a centre to promote innovation in science and technology. It is a necessary component of the diversification of the Cayman economy. However, much more needs to be done. Centres like the one announced by the premier require complementary supports, that is, they need creative, innovative, accomplished people associated with them.

Innovation does not just happen within the four walls of such a centre; it requires a community of creative people of all kinds. Many similar centers for innovation have been created in other countries. Those that are most successful in terms of progressive economic growth are only one part of the economic puzzle. Innovation is not just about scientists, engineers, and technically trained people.

Obviously, the leaders of innovation require a great deal of support. It is quite apparent that they require expertise in finance, accounting, logistics, human resource management, and administration.

However, the nature of the people and expertise that inspires innovation is less apparent. As the research by Richard Florida has clearly shown, economically successful communities have identifiable strengthens in technology, talent, and tolerance. Richard Florida has recently become an advisor on economic growth to Britain’s new prime minister, David Cameron. Currently leading the Martin Prosperity Institute at the University of Toronto, Florida has investigated cities and regions – mostly in the US and Canada – to determine the role of the key characteristics of technology, talent, and tolerance found in those that are the most successful.

Premier Bush’s innovation centre addresses the issue of technology. However, this can only have a positive impact if it is combined with the development of the other key ingredients – talent and tolerance.

Talent in Cayman requires a broad social acceptance for the significance of college and university education for Caymanians, and the necessary role that experienced expatriates must play. And this is not just in technologies; it is in all fields that make up a creative community.

Tolerance, or the acceptance of all those who promote and contribute to a creative community, is just as important as technology and talent are.

Building a creative country requires new sectors to be supported and developed. Cayman’s innovation centre is an important first step. Ideally it will lead to the development of new sectors that are resilient to global economic trends. In my view, the service sectors of health and college and university education are the best sectors for Cayman to pursue. These sectors, in many different ways, can lead the way in innovation.

There is another aspect of innovation that cannot be overlooked and in which Cayman is well positioned. New technologies only live up to their potential when new
organizational methods and business practices are developed to complement their advances. All too often we fail to create innovative organizations.

Cayman has a history of successful innovation in the field of international finance. Perhaps Cayman can take this expertise into other sectors and become a leader in this important and necessary field – for Cayman and the rest of the world.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    the online bickering is so great because the stakes are so small

  2. Anonymous says:

    in response to Mon, 01/31/2011 – 11:09

    oh gosh, don’t get me started.  you obviously did not read my earlier post – nowhere does it state anything to the effect of a qualified expatriate being booted off to be replaced by a "lower-qualified" caymanian.  your reading skills need some serious remediation.  the diarrhea that you spew from your lips and that you would like others to confuse for intellectual jargon does nothing but mask your gigantic inferiority complex.  but forget all that – as another poster eloquently asked, what planet are you from?

    p.s. your racist rant would qualify you for a huge post in the Einsatztruppen

  3. Anonymous says:

    It’s always refreshing on a Monday morning to wallow in the wellspring of racist hate and downright ignorance that pervades Cayman News Service. Indeed when by 10.00 am on a Monday Morning, our white overseers and petits blancs are already publicly cannibalising each other, clearly not too good of a time can have been had n the plantation over the weekend .

    So here’s my bit of mud for the trough–  Eiblo Goughts was probably actually trying to support rather than poke fun at the people he names. Mmmm guess its not just Caymanians that don’t get irony– no matter how poorly targeted, small minded and bitter it may have been. Maybe you Sunset House types and those who think like you need to have some special coded way of recognising each other or something.

    Au Revoir Joe Mamas and Henry Hill– Can you provide some actual examples where a qualified expatriate was booted off the Islands and replaced by a Caymanian with less than equivalent qualifications and experience? If the person is no longer here and was so woefully mistreated surely they would lend their name to a good cause. I say this my dears, because proof of your allegations would really make you seem less like arrant bigots who don’t have anything better to do than make excuses about their own lack of social success that most people who are not blinded by their own racist hate are well aware are not borne out by fact.


    Mr Phillips, an interesting article, although not exactly earth shattering. While it is certainly important that such things are discussed publicly– the same discussion has been going on in the public sphere here for years. What would have improved the piece greatly for me would have been some attempt to look at existing innovation– to try and include new statistics about graduates in areas critical for innovation and what they have historically achieved? What has stopped them from progressing further? Perhaps you might have spoken to some people who had tried and failed or tried and succeeded in this area.

    In addition you make no consideration of the fact that the prevailing private sector view of the relationship between education and socio-economic policy in the Cayman Islands (and hence the prevailing view) is about a century behind every other country in the world. The grands blancs (and party benefactors) won’t tolerate interference with their employment practices and thus profits. Meanwhile the little ones won’t tolerate any practices or policies that would make their continuing employment and that of their friends and acquaintances here less feasible. Hence steps that could be taken to increase the country’s performance in higher education– and that have been proven helpful elsewhere– remain publicly unconsidered.

    Furthermore the public service (whom as the private sector likes to speculate with their families must comprise a majority of voters)  is under a permanent and extremely nebulous gag order, and hence understandably unwilling to discuss in the public sphere their institutional knowledge of anything. Various private sector employers have similar rules.  It would certainly been interesting for there to have been some discussion of the connection between building an innovative culture  and human rights and good governance for the country as a whole rather than just for the public sector. I had thought that this was the argument behind the whole furore over the call for a freestanding and horizontal bill of rights.

    It may very well be, as people often argue in this forum, that the Cayman Islands, and the world, would be a better place if people, could move to other peoples countries and create their own utopian spaces, where everything is ordered just as they would like it to be, at a minimal cost to themselves, with no consideration of existing inhabitants culture and history, and all of their subordinates are appropriately grateful and the money would just keep rolling in. You know the kind of philosophy that is called globalisation when white countries do it to brown countries and extremism when it is reversed. My guess is that nothing ever quite works out like that though, and that Cayman having been, for the past several decades, home to innovators from abroad that is surely well above the international benchmarkis living proof of this.  

    • chuckie surfmeister says:

      Sorry….what planet did you claim to come from?

    • O'Really says:

      Of course there are some of us on here who think that someone who writes about "racist hate", "white overseers", "white countries and brown countries" without having any way of knowing the nationality or race of the posters on this thread might just have a racist problem themselves. To quote Dennis Miller " that’s just my opinion, I could be wrong."


    • Joe Mamas says:

      If you could just read as well as you write it would be helpfull. Replacing skilled expats with unskilled Caymainans was not the point and not happening as far as I can tell. It would seem that at least the private sector that is profit driven has replaced expat skill with no one to the detriment of business. Many Key employees could not be kept due to government involvement. Rolled overs could not be replaced off or on island with the expected result to business. The only workers who have not been so effected is in Government where those who fail at their jobs continually are protected by those who continually fail at their jobs. My point was that skill is where you find it and not where you don’t. Simple.
      P.S. Having many good Caymanian friends I don’t think I am racist but I am like them anti corruption. Fight the good fight Cayman.

    • Henry Hill says:

      You’re a funny guy….

  4. Yo Mama says:

    The biggest problem with the idea of creating a zone of scientific research and innovation is that the guy footing the bill, Barry Hon, is no champion of science.

    He supported the presidential bid of televangelist Pat Robertson and he has a long involvment with Oral Roberts “University”. It’s difficult to imagine a guy like that agreeing to fund real modern science.

    We might see angel counting, fortune telling and faith healing there but don’t look for stem cell research or anything else that contradicts with the medieval version of Christianity.

  5. au revoir says:

    You sound like an expatriate or foreigner. This is not the way that things are done in the Cayman Islands. In the Cayman Islands we build a building, put people inside of it, and voila, we now have all kinds of innovators, scientists, and experts. In fact, just talking about it raises our expert quotient twofold. All the rest is blah blah blah blah blah blah blah…

  6. Joe Mamas says:

    The Current trend of Kicking off talent just so homegrown looks like talent does not look good for the future of anything that has to do with modern business practices on Cayman. If the model of CIG (XXX) is going to be followed it will once again be get the plane off the ground then turn it over to my friend the (fill in the blank.)

    • Henry Hill says:

      "……… then turn it over to my friend the (retired master boiler technician.)"

    • Joe Bananas says:

      More like My relative the “never had a real job and never will” financial records keeper..