News Releases

Alex Pratt to speak at Caribbean Competitiveness Forum

For Release Upon Receipt - October 29, 2012

St. Augustine

The University of the West Indies’ (UWI) Caribbean Centre for Competitiveness (CCfC) will host its first Regional Competitiveness Forum on November 5th and 6th at the Hyatt Regency in Port of Spain. Following the theme “A Solutions Agenda to Key Competitiveness Challenges”, the forum will address three of the region’s critical competitiveness challenges: Unlocking financing for small and medium enterprises (SMEs); Competitiveness Models for the Caribbean; and the internationalisation of SMEs.

The forum has an interesting dimension, it will host two clinics: the first will highlight critical SME challenges around which to discuss solutions and the second clinic will present a panel comprising members of large, successful exporting companies which will field questions from the audience on “how-to” solutions for moving businesses forward. 

The CCfC is a special project of UWI and is funded by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the Department for International Development (DFID). This forum has been supported by private and public sector firms, providing strong endorsement of the Forum´s purpose. In the words of the University’s Vice Chancellor, Professor E. Nigel Harris, it “is a vitally important University initiative and brings with it the possibility of making a difference in the fortunes of Caribbean economies.” 

The ultimate objective of the forum is to define a post forum actionable agenda for effecting positive competitiveness driven change. According to CCfC’s Executive Director, Indera Sagewan-Alli, “We have put together a diversified team of regional experts from academia and policy practitioners. The private sector will also share internationalisation successes and SME will share their real challenges. The goal is to brainstorm alternative models for improved private sector competitiveness in the region.”

One of the international keynote presenters is Alex Pratt. His entrepreneurial story and extensive experience will serve as an inspiration to regional entrepreneurs. He started his first business at the age of 16 and is today the founder of Serious Brands, manufacturing and exporting light bulbs used on spaceships, lifeboats and sewing machines. Author of the best-selling book Austerity Business: 39 Tips For Doing More With Less, he has been an advisor to governments, and a key catalyst behind the rebranding of the UK into “Cool Britannia”. He led the UK Government’s National Innovation Team and was Chairman of the National Assessment Panel for Business Support. Until June 2012, he was Director of the South East of England Development Agency and Chairman of the South East Economic Development Board, a region of 8 million people with a GDP of £165 billion pounds. Pratt is invited to speak all over the world on innovation, entrepreneurship and leadership. He currently chairs the Local Enterprise Partnership for Buckinghamshire and is a founding director of the Barbados Entrepreneur Foundation.  Pratt has also agreed to deliver a Distinguished Lecture, titled “Innovation and Enterprise in a Small Island Developing Economy,” on November 6 at Theatre 1, Block 13, Faculty of Engineering, UWI, St Augustine. The lecture, jointly facilitated by the CCfC and UWI, will focus on how businesses can survive – and even thrive – in tough economic conditions.  

The other international speaker at the CCfC’s forum, Professor Amitav Rath, has tremendous international experience as a consultant to corporations, industrial companies, governments and multilateral institutions in different parts of the globe on innovation, competitiveness and entrepreneurship.

This forum is a must-attend for policy makers, researchers and especially business owners. Compete Caribbean, a US$40 million programme that provides technical grants and investment funding for private sector development, will launch an exciting research project and explain how businesses can access financial support. Owners of SMEs will have the opportunity to showcase their products, make strategic contacts and build networks. Together, participants and presenters will actively engage in deliberations to achieve meaningful and practical solutions to problems affecting trade and export in the Caribbean.  

For more information, contact Karen Lee Lum at 662-2002 Ext. 85481 or via e-mail at, or visit


About UWI

Over the last six decades, The University of the West Indies (UWI) has evolved from a fledgling college in Jamaica with 33 students to a full-fledged University with over 40,000 students. Today, UWI is the largest and most longstanding higher education provider in the English-speaking Caribbean, with main campuses in Barbados, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago, and Centres in Anguilla, Antigua & Barbuda, The Bahamas, Belize, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Dominica, Grenada, Montserrat, St Christopher (St Kitts) & Nevis, St Lucia, and St Vincent & the Grenadines. UWI recently launched its Open Campus, a virtual campus with over 50 physical site locations across the region, serving over 20 countries in the English-speaking Caribbean. UWI is an international university with faculty and students from over 40 countries and collaborative links with over 60 universities around the world. Through its seven Faculties, UWI offers undergraduate and postgraduate degree options in Engineering, Humanities & Education, Law, Medical Sciences, Pure & Applied Sciences, Science and Agriculture, and Social Sciences. (Please note that the proper name of the university is The University of the West Indies, inclusive of the “The”, hence The UWI.)