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DBJ ups funding in relaunched innovation grant programme

The Development Bank of Jamaica, DBJ, has upgraded aspects of its Innovation Grant Fund, one of the primary changes being a 43 per cent or $6 million addition to the financing each successful applicant can get.

DBJ on Friday announced the relaunch of the grant, which coincides with the starting date for the intake of another round of applications.

The relaunched programme allows registered, medium-sized Jamaican businesses to access up to $20 million in grant funding for business ventures deemed to be original and have scope for revenue and employment generation.

DBJ does not limit funding for innovation projects to specific sectors, but the state-run agency requires that applicants be in business for a minimum of seven years.

The application window will stay open for more than a month, from May 20 to June 30.

The Innovation Grant Fund, IGF, is the first programme launched under the DBJ’s Boosting Innovation Growth & Entrepreneurship Ecosystems or BIGEE, initiative, through which the DBJ intends to distribute US$25 million, or $3.89 billion at the current exchange rate, to micro, small, and medium-sized companies.

BIGEE covers three distinct components that include grant financing, capacity building and institutional strengthening and equity financing, and which, in turn, have several sub-components. Its objective is to promote innovation and entrepreneurship among medium-sized companies in Jamaica.

So far, DBJ has approved six projects under the programme valued at $78 million, three of which were Bare Nutrition Limited, Intermed Company, and Sherwood Forest Coffee Company. The three were chosen from more than 100 applicants in the first round of the IGF launched in 2021.

At the time, the maximum funding for entities that qualified was $14 million, but under the relaunched programme DBJ has increased the cap to $$20 million.

“We have listened to feedback from business owners and reviewed the comments from our consultants on the need to improve several aspects of the IGF. This is what led us to relaunch the IGF with upgraded features,” BIGEE Project Manager Christopher Brown said in a statement issued by the development bank.

Additionally, the DBJ has accredited a cadre of business consultants to assist owners of medium-sized businesses in completing stage two of the application process – a detailed business plan.

“Businesses applying for this grant must have an innovative business model and/or concept that will result in increased revenue and the creation of increased employment. For example, this could be a piece of equipment that will replace a manual process. This must be new to Jamaica and, or the region,” Brown said.

Upon closing of the IGF, the development bank will open applications to the Innovation Grant from New Ideas to Entrepreneurship, IGNITE, in July 2022. IGNITE, which dates back to October 2015, provides funding for enterprises, from the idea stage to commercialisation. IGNITE is targeted at micro and small enterprises.

The grant is broken down into two sections. It provides up to $3 million for businesses in the idea stage, and $7 million for businesses within the commercialisation stage, DBJ said.

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