Government officials and various private sector representatives are in meetings with science and technology experts from Korea to develop a comprehensive science and technology strategy for the country of Belize. The first meetings took place on Monday, November 3, at the launch of the 2014 Belize-Korea Knowledge Sharing Program.
Senator Joy Grant and Dr. Colin Young travelled to Korea shortly after the establishment of the Ministry of Energy, Science, Technology and Public Utilities in 2012. During that visit, Minister Grant and C.E.O. Young forged a partnership with Korea for knowledge sharing and technical assistance that has already provided dividends for Belize with the formation of the country’s National Transportation Masterplan in 2013.
This year Belize applied for assistance in two areas: first for the development of a National Science, Technology and Innovation Strategy and Action Plan and two for the execution of a feasibility study in the establishment of the Belize-Korea Science, Technology and Innovation Institute.
There were 85 representatives of the public, private sector and civil society participating in meetings at the launch of the 2014 Knowledge Sharing Agreement on Monday. Dr. Young says the process of developing the national strategy and action plan will take between six and nine months. The project is being executed by the Korean Development Institute and financed by the Republic of Korea (South). Driven by high-tech multinationals such as Samsung, Hyundai-Kia and LG, Korea is rated by the Bloomberg Innovation Quotient as the most innovative country in the world.
The delegation of ten experts from Korea is being headed by former Minister of Environment in Korea, Dr. Kim Myung-Ja. Dr. Young says the delegation will make numerous visits to Belize in order to hold high level meetings with stakeholders and conduct extensive research. They will also hire local consultants to assist with data gathering. After the publication of a draft document, a Belizean delegation will be invited to Korea to observe how the Koreans are implementing their strategy and provide feedback on the draft. When satisfactory, the document will be taken to Cabinet for approval.
The National Science, Technology and Innovation Strategy and Action Plan will also feature plans for the Belize-Korea Science, Technology and Innovation Institute. Dr. Young says the Government of Belize is extremely committed to this project and are prepared to invest heavily in its establishment. He says Government will work closely with the University of Belize to develop the programs. Young says, “The Institute will offer graduate programs in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics and full the void left by the abolition of the Belize Technical College.” Young says there are plenty of opportunities available in Belize and the Institute will “train our people in areas that are demanded by the private sector”.
Belize will also work closely with the Caribbean Science Foundation, an independent non-profit non-governmental organization with a goal to “assist with the diversification of the economies of the Caribbean Region by harnessing science and technology for economic development, and to help raise the standard of living.” Dr. Cardinald Warde, Founder of the Caribbean Science Foundation, says, “There is no reason why the next Google could not be produced in Belize.”