Staff Notices

Name the Cocoa Innovation Centre Competition!

Posted Wednesday, October 07, 2020


Do you know about the Cocoa Innovation Centre? It is a spin-off company that would commercialise the knowledge products and services developed at The UWI Cocoa Research Centre (CRC).

The Centre is in search of a name. UWI staff and students are invited to enter the Name the Cocoa Innovation Centre Competition to win:

Grand Prize: Fitbit Smartwatch

2nd Prize: The UWI-CRC Hamper

3rd Prize: The UWI-CRC Hamper 

The deadline for submissions is October 25, 2020.  Please see suggested Naming Guidelines here. 

Enter today by visiting: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/CocoaInnovationNamecompetition

Please note: Each competition participant can only submit one name and one entry.  

Background about the Cocoa Innovation Centre

Trinidad and Tobago is known as the birthplace of Trinitario cocoa – a hybrid of the flavourful Criollo and hardy Forastero varieties that was sprung from our very soil. Trinitario cocoa is reputed as the world’s finest cocoa. This reputation has been cemented, over the years, through the numerous international awards it has won for its quality.  This along with International Cocoa Genebank, the largest and most diverse cocoa collection in the world, and The UWI Cocoa Research Centre,  the oldest cocoa research centre in the world has elevated T&T as a Mecca of Cocoa – a pilgrimage every chocolate connoisseur must make in their lifetime. 

Despite these superlatives, the cocoa industry which was once “king” has fallen out of grace with production declining from a high of around 40,000 t to a meagre 500 t. The manual system of production, the traditional production methods, low value addition, numerous production constraints including pests and diseases, heavy metal contaminants, climate change, aging trees, and ageing farms have all been factors in this decline. 

Reviving the industry requires an innovative production system, a quality-centred approach to processing, value addition to capture the imagination of consumers, an innovative niche marketing and distribution system that will attract investment and excite young people to enter the industry. There is also a need to build the agro-tourism sector and the business cluster around cocoa to increase employment opportunities.

Enter the Cocoa Innovation Centre!

This is a 10-acre site, nestled within a 100-acre University Field Station at Mount Hope, just off the Uriah Butler Highway.  It consists of a six acre model cocoa orchard showcasing innovations in cocoa production and processing; a cutting edge chocolate factory that converts the high quality cocoa into intermediary products for sale  (cocoa nibs, cocoa mass, cocoa butter, cocoa liquor, cocoa couverture); as well as the finest of chocolates, for global distribution; a state-of the-art cocoa quality certification facility;  business and technology incubators to support the spawning of innovative cocoa and chocolate boutiques; spas and restaurants, and an agro-tourism hub. The innovation centre will provide apprenticeship training, bean-to-bar tours, a cocoa museum experience, a factory outlet as well as a fine dining in a chocolate-themed restaurant. From this, there will be tours to other cocoa and chocolate havens in Trinidad and Tobago.

This is specifically designed to address the challenges of the cocoa industry.  The site has been prepared and buildings constructed to provide high quality intermediary raw material to businesses, thereby reducing the risk to value add businesses.  It is also designed to provide accommodation for start-ups so that they can design and build their products, develop a business plan, seek capital investment without risk before venturing out as full-fledged companies.  The innovation centre will serve as catalyst by managing the back-end supply chain logistics so that companies can focus on producing innovative products designed for the contemporary consumers globally and build a distribution network.

The innovation centre will serve as an engine to drive innovation in the cocoa and chocolate sector, create an environment where businesses can work together to cluster knowledge and investment and build an agro-tourism sector around it.  It will catapult the cocoa industry into an innovative sector contributing to job creation, sustainable livelihoods, forex earnings and to the overall GDP of the country.

For more about The UWI-CRC, please visit https://sta.uwi.edu/cru/