An Overview of Jamaica's Science Sector
Reference to science as a discrete sector is really a reference to Science, Technology and Innovation (STI); as together, these three are considered the pillars on which economic growth and international competitiveness, the sine quibus non for advancing national development, thrive.
Under the direction of the Ministry of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining, the STI sector is guided by two primary institutions, the National Commission on Science and Technology (NCST) and the Scientific Research Council (SRC).
Chaired by the Prime Minister, the NCST operates as the umbrella organization responsible for fostering and advancing the national STI policy and strategy in Jamaica. It also provides expert direction to not only government institutions but also private sector enterprises seeking to implement projects related to the application of science and technology.
The SRC focuses on the coordination of scientific research island wide and the promotion of its application. Apart from its own indigenous research, the SRC provides services to the public which promote the application of science and technology in product development in particular the argo-industrial sector. In this regard, the SRC lends its expertise in laboratory analyses, waste management and technology transfer management. The SRC is ISO 9001:2008 certified and its analytical laboratories are 17025 accredited.
While less than 1% and 0.3% of Gross Domestic Product is spent on science and development and research and development respectively, with the reconstitution of the NCST and its mandate to the develop the National Nutraceutical Industry and amendments to the legislative framework to promote cannabis research and the designation of the SRC, as an authorized research facility, this position will undoubtedly change.
The STI sector, also benefits from the work of the International Centre for Environmental and Nuclear Sciences (ICENS), which focuses primarily on research related to the peaceful uses of nuclear energy, environmental geochemistry, particularly in relation to the health and safety of food and agricultural products and mineral exploration. ICENS also offers specialized services that include analyses for trace metals, blood lead analyses, radiation monitoring and personal radiation dosimetry.
ICENS is a part of the Faculty of Science and Technology at the University of the West Indies (UWI) and is jointly funded by the UWI and MSTEM.