European Union and OCTs

European Union and OCTs

Mr. Denis Salord, Head of Unit at the European Commission Directorate-General for International Cooperation and Development in charge of Overseas Countries and Territories opened the BRUZZ dedicated to Turks and Caicos Islands last Thursday 13th of July.

Mr. Salord particularly highlighted the importance of the regional dimension, and as such of the cooperation among OCTs and among OCTs and their neighbouring countries.

Please find below Mr. Salord’s introductory speech at the OCTA Innovation Brussels BRUZZ on Turks and Caicos Islands:

Your Excellency honourable Premier Sharlene Cartwright-Robinson,

Distinguished Guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is my pleasure to address you today in Brussels for this OCTA Innovation Brussels BRUZZ event focusing on Turks and Caicos.

We are particularly honoured to have with us today Honourable Sharlene Cartwright-Robinson, Premier of Turks and Caicos, Minister for Trade and Investment of the TCI and chairman of the Overseas Countries and territories Association (OCTA).

As you know, the Association between the 25 OCTs and the EU is of strategic importance for the EU. The European Commission places a particular importance in the work of the OCT Association (OCTA) and is committed to continue working very closely with OCTA to reinforce the partnership between the EU and the OCTs. In this context, as the head of unit responsible for the relations with OCTs in the Directorate General for International Cooperation and Development (DG DEVCO), I am particularly pleased with the ongoing collaboration between the European Commission and the chairmanship of OCTA held by honourable Premier Sharlene Cartwright-Robinson.

The Overseas Association Decision of 2013 which governs the OCT-EU relations, reflects a paradigm shift, from a focus on poverty reduction to a reciprocal relation focused on cooperation on mutual interests, and places special emphasis on priorities which are relevant for the OCTs, such as the enhancement of their competitiveness, the strengthening of their resilience, reduction of their vulnerability, and promotion of the cooperation between OCTs and their regional, European and international partners.

In this context, innovation is a central lever to ensure sustainable economic growth in OCTs and the enhancement of their competitiveness. Innovation is at the heart of the EU action in the area of sustainable growth and competitiveness and is seen as a top priority by the EU institutions and the Member States.

In OCTs, the Territorial Strategies for Innovation (TSI) programme also known as “OCTA Innovation” programme is the thematic programme funded by the 10th European Development Fund and covering all OCTs. It embodies the prominence of innovation in the context of the OCT-EU Association.

The overall objective of TSI is to enhance the sustainable development of OCTs through innovative solutions for economic diversification and to improve the regional and global competitiveness of the OCTs. The project provides technical capacity and demand-driven services to the OCT governments in developing their Territorial Strategies for Innovation. To date 9 territorial Strategies for Innovation projects have been initiated in the same number of OCTs.

Today’s OCTA Innovation event is dedicated to the Turks and Caicos. The 11th European Development Fund territorial programme for TCI was signed by Commissioner Mimica and Honourable Premier Cartwright-Robinson at the beginning of 2017 during the 15th OCT-EU Forum alongside four other EDF-OCT territorial programming documents. The programme, amounting for a total of EUR 14.6 million, is focusing on primary and secondary education providing support to TCI ambitious education sector policy. Madame Premier will probably tell us more about this programme.

I am also sure that TCI will be able to share its experience in the area of innovation having focused its 10th EDF multi-annual programme on improving the enabling environment for private sector development as part of the EU general support to the development policy of the OCT.

I look forward to our discussions today, and to strengthening our association going forward. I am sure they will contribute to making our partnership even more effective.


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Learning from EC ACP programmes on Science, Research and Innovation

Learning from EC ACP programmes on Science, Research and Innovation

OCTA Innovation was delighted that the Robert Burmanjer Head of Unit in the Knowledge, Performance and Results Task Force of the European Commission’s Directorate General for International Cooperation & Development attended the 2IC. He shared invaluable knowledge of the EC’s research and innovation policies and programmes in African Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) nations who are members of the ACP-EU Cotonou Agreement (2000-2020).

Mr Burmanjer emphasised that Research and Innovation are recognised by the European Union in meeting the challenge of nearly all of the United Nation’s sustainable development goals, as they lay the foundations for new approaches, solutions and technologies to identify, clarify and tackle local and global problems.

The proposed European Consensus on Development blueprint for aligning the European Union’s development policy with the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development) reflects this importance.

Article 86 states that: “the EU and its MS will continue investing in research and development in and for developing countries, including enhancing national innovation systems; to strengthen measurable impacts on progress towards the SDGs through responsible research and innovation approach including education for science.”

Mr Burmanjer described some of the main programmes financed by the European Development Fund over the last 10 years to support Research, Science, Technology and Innovation in ACP countries. They include a project to enhance capacity building in Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu, demonstrating the added value of a mutually reinforcing capacity building and network development. Under this programme, trainees from Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands also received training at Papua New Guinea’s National Agricultural Research Institute (NARI). A Material Transfer Agreement, ensured that this transfer of knowledge continues in the long-term.

The ‘Improving Innovation Capacities in the Caribbean’ (INVOCAB) programme is building and strengthening educational science capacities in Science, Technology and Innovation (STI), specifically Science Education, as an enabler for poverty reduction, growth and socio-economic development of Caribbean countries. It is improving teaching quality in science subjects at both primary and secondary levels, and stimulating interest and performance of students in selected science subjects.

We very appreciate chance of learning of and working with Mr. Robert Burmanjer, EC DEVCO Head of unit so versatile in different aspects of innovation, capacity building and knowledge sharing. You may watch video .

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2IC – The importance of knowledge sharing

2IC – The importance of knowledge sharing

OCTA Innovation is pleased to announce the participation of Robert Burmanjer at its International Conference in the Azores, 11-12th April. Mr Burmanjer is Head of the Knowledge Management Unit in the European Commission Directorate-General for International Cooperation and Development. He will address the importance of knowledge sharing for developing economies.

The European Commission’s proposed European Consensus stresses that the EU and its Member States should continue investing in research and development. The European consensus is a policy document that seeks to align the European Union’s development policy with the United Nation’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Article 86 notably states: “… the EU and its MS will continue investing in research and development in and for developing countries, including enhancing national innovation systems; to strengthen measurable impacts on progress towards the SDGs through a responsible research and innovation approach including education for science”.



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2IC – OCTs and Azores to meet on innovation, April 11-14th

2IC – OCTs and Azores to meet on innovation, April 11-14th

Press release – Brussels, April 5 2017 – An international conference in Ponta Delgada, Azores, 11-14th April, will gather representatives of the European Union’s Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs)*, the government of the Azores, the European Commission and innovation experts to look at how innovation is spurring sustainable development in both groups of small islands and the scope for future initiatives.

The event is being organised by OCTA Innovation in cooperation with the Government of the Azores. OCTA innovation is propelling innovation in the OCTs. It is assisting the implementation of Territorial Strategies for Innovation, including technical, demand-driven support to OCT governments and the financing of a number of pilot projects. The aim is to propel growth and economic diversification in the OCTs and improve their competitiveness.

Vasco Alves Cordeiro, President of the Government ofthe Azores, will open the confernce with Janice Panton MBE, Montserrat’s representative to the United Kingdom and Chair of OCTA Innovation’s Steering Committee. Milan Jezic von Gesseneck, Team Leader of OCTA Innovation will chair the conference. Mr. Jezic von Gesseneck will highlight the relevance of innovation for sustainable growth of islands and OCTA Innovation’s work to root innovation eco-systems in OCT societies.

“Governments must take the lead in systemic innovation across all sectors; fostering partnerships between public and private entities and building capacity and knowledge. The ambition is to grow a number of thematic centres of excellence among OCTs with a focus on those sectors where individual OCTs are already leading the way and to share expertise among OCTs,” says Milan Jezic von Gesseneck. The centres will share their expertise with other OCTs.

As mostly small islands distanced from the EU mainland, the OCTs face similar challenges to the diversification of their economies as the EU’s Outermost islands which includes the Azores, a group of Portuguese islands in the Atlantic.

The conference is an opportunity for OCT Innovation Managers – government appointees who are leading the way on innovation in the OCTs – to learn about the Azores’ approaches to innovation. Yet, they have in common unique innovation potential including renewable energy and niche tourism. Panels will take a closer look at innovation initiatives in different sectors in both the OCTs and the Azores: renewable energies; the digital economies; the green and blue economies and the cultural sector.

The already initiated cooperation between the OCTs and the Azores should be taken a step further during the conference with a view to drawing up a Memorandum of Understanding between the OCT Association and the Azores. The aim is to forge closer cooperation such as through sharing best research and innovation practice and know-how.

Key speakers at the event include: Pedro De Sampaio Nunes, Entrepreneur, former Secretary of State of Science and Innovation and former Head of the EUREKA Secretariat; Robert Burmanjer, Head of Unit for “Knowledge Management”
in the European Commission’s Directorate General for International Cooperation, Giles Garel, Full Chair Professor of Innovation Management at the Conservatoire national des arts et métiers in Paris and Paulo Carreiro, Director for Business Development in the Azores.

For further information and interviews:

* The OCTs – located in the Atlantic, Indian and Pacific Oceans and the Caribbean sea – are associated to the EU through four EU member states to which they are constitutionally linked: Denmark, France, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom.

Anguilla, Aruba, Bonaire, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Curaçao, Falkland Islands, French Polynesia, Greenland, Montserrat, New Caledonia, Pitcairn, Saba, St. Bathelemy, St. Helena, St. Pierre-et-Miquelon, St. Eustatius, St. Maarten, Turks and Caicos Islands, Wallis and Futuna.


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Innovating and surpassing challenges – Forum of the EU’s Outermost Regions

Innovating and surpassing challenges – Forum of the EU’s Outermost Regions

A forum takes place in Brussels, March 30-31, between EU policy makers and the EU’s nine Outermost Regions: Guadeloupe, French Guiana, Réunion, Martinique, Mayotte and Saint-Martin (France), the Azores and Madeira (Portugal) and the Canary Islands (Spain). It will consider a renewed European Union Strategy towards the nine.

Existing EU measures under the Regional Policy, the Common Agricultural Policy and the Common Fisheries Policy, assist the Outermost Regions in surpassing their unique challenges. Insularity, remoteness, topography, climate and dependency on a limited number of economic sectors are issues that the grouping shares with the European Union’s Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs).

However, the unique geographic and geological characteristics of the Outermost Regions are spurring research and innovation in the areas of renewable energies, pharmacology, space science, biodiversity and marine ecosystems. The forum will look at measures to make the most of the regions’ potential within a renewed strategy.

The Presidents of the Outermost Regions of the European Union are expected to attend the event, along with President of the Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Parliament, Antonio Tajani, EU Commissioner for Regional Policy, Corina Crețu, French Minister of Overseas, Ericka Bareigts, Portuguese Secretary of State for European Affairs, Margarida Marques and Spanish Secretary of State for European Affairs, Jorge Toldeo Albiñana.

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OCTA Innovation’s mission and vision – Janice Panton

OCTA Innovation’s mission and vision – Janice Panton

A special thanks to Janice Panton for her recent simultaneous work as President of the Executive Committee of OCTA and on the OCTA Innovation Project. We look forward to continuing to work with her to propel innovation in the OCTs.

Ms. Panton’s dedication and energy have greatly contributed to advancing the project and rooting innovation in the OCTs.

The EU-funded OCTA Innovation project is supporting the implementation of the most promising and innovative ideas in business, ways of organisation, and the implementation of innovative technologies in the Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs) and across all sectors: agriculture, construction, the creative industry, energy, financial services, fisheries, food processing, IT, administration, tourism, trade and transport.

OCTA Innovation’s activities have already created an innovation momentum in OCTs which should be stepped up to carry forward the project’s achievements. These initiatives include missions by innovation experts to the OCTs, the organisation of workshops, seminars and conferences, learning-by-doing, training in innovation, increasing the visibility of OCTs to their respective regions and across continents and implementing projects.

Looking ahead, the focus is the sustainability of the OCTA innovation project in spurring innovation.  The aim is to move forward in the development of:

  • Innovation eco-systems – the vision is for innovation eco-systems in be in place in all individual OCTs. The establishment of an eco-system requires innovation to be embraced by government and wider society and across all sectors.
  • Systemic Innovation Government needs to play a key role in driving innovation in the Overseas Countries and Territories through creating an enabling environment for innovation, putting in all required measures and actions, and enabling innovation implementation in the OCT.

Territorial Strategy for Innovation 15th Ministerial Conference Report (Janice Panton).

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OCTs as “regional hubs of excellence”

OCTs as “regional hubs of excellence”


Neven Mimica, European Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development and Cooperation, says that the OCTs have the potential to be “regional hubs of excellence in addressing issues of common concern.”

Chairing the OCT-EU Forum, he said that the EU had a strong commitment to work together with all partners to build resilience and sustainable responses to common challenges, such as climate change, disaster risk reduction and sustainable energy transition.

“Our Overseas Countries and Territories have great potential to act as regional hubs of excellence in addressing issues of common concern. We will continue to work closely together in addressing the challenge of climate change and increasing the use of renewable energies,” he said.

During the Forum, the Commissioner signed Programming Documents under the 11th European Development Fund (EDF) together with OCT partners, such as New Caledonia (€29.8 million) to support employment and professional inclusion in the region.

A project in in Saba, worth €3.55 million, will invest in renewable energy and €2.45 million will be earmarked for energy projects in Sint Eustatius. €14.05 million will be made available to support education in Anguilla, and the Turks and Caicos Islands will benefit from projects worth €14.6 million to support education and vocational training.


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Aruba hosts OCT-EU Forum

Aruba hosts OCT-EU Forum


Prime Minister of Aruba, Mike Eman, Chair of OCTA, hosted the 15th OCT-EU Forum in Oranjestad, February, 20-24th, 2017.

The strengthening of relations between different OCTs and with the European Union were themes of this year’s Forum. The programming of regional and thematic funds of the 11th European Development Fund also topped the agenda.

The ОСТА Ministerial Conference and trilateral meetings are organised in the margin of the OCT-EU Forum. The OCT-EU Forum was chaired by the European Commission while the OCTA Ministerial Conference was chaired by Aruba.

The Forum was an opportunity for Aruba to showcase its best innovative practice, notably in renewable energy and creative industries. An Energy Learning Tour was organized of the solar park and Windpark Vader Piet as well as the Cosecha San Nicolas which is a centre for design, creativity and craftsmanship.

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OCTA Innovation Issue 8 / 2017 –  Aruba

OCTA Innovation Issue 8 / 2017 – Aruba

The European Commission has signed a pilot project for Aruba. The innovative project, which engages a new generation, will give schoolchildren on the island the opportunity to gain practical experience of 3-D technology. The project has been greatly enabled by the dedication and enthusiasm of Bianca Peters who is our Innovation Manager in Aruba and Director of the Bureau of Innovation.

The Bureau of Innovation is a unique mix of creative think-tank and project development within Aruba’s Ministry of General Affairs, Innovation, Sustainable Development and Science. It has already been given OCTA Innovation BIC ‘Business, Innovation and Creativity’ Award for its outstanding support to social, technical and economic innovation.

Says Bianca Peters: “Within the vision of Aruba to become a 100% sustainable society, we see the need to focus on start-ups, on young entrepreneurs who think outside the box and find solutions to challenges in the development towards a sustainable society. A very important development for Aruba is to give the younger generation and recent graduates the opportunity to remain in Aruba to exploit their creativity and build on them thereby a future here.”
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Pilot project for Aruba signed

Pilot project for Aruba signed


The European Commission has signed a pilot project for Aruba. By teaching electronic technologies to the next generation, OCTA Innovation’s EU-funded pilot project will assist in building the foundations of a knowledge-based economy in Aruba.

E-based equipment such as 3D printers, lasers and shape scanner will be bought for use in after-school clubs or other venues so that elementary and secondary school students can learn how to operate the equipment and be inspired. The project will be mounted by a project manager and two technical trainers.

The results of the project will be a disseminated through different communication channels such as newsletters, press releases, website and presentations. The aim is that others will draw inspiration from the project and eventually ‘copy’ it in other OCTs, or further afield.

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