Trinidad and Tobago hopes to become a Caribbean tech hub through the ambitious development of Tamana Intech Park, which boasts both innovation and sustainability credentials. Timothy Conley reports.
A former Second World War US airbase in Wallerfield, a town on the eastern side of Trinidad, has been repurposed into the epicentre of Trinidad and Tobago’s push for a more diversified economy.
Traditionally, Trinidad and Tobago has relied on the energy sector for much of its economic growth. Now, the newly fashioned Tamana Intech Park will provide non-energy sectors, including technology and financial services, with the necessary space and infrastructure to grow.
“The park is guaranteed to increase Trinidad and Tobago’s visibility on the global map as a commercial centre primarily for technology and innovation.”
The park offers 20 fully approved lots, ranging from 0.5 to 8 hectares in size, with an overall total of 2700 square metres of remaining space for tenants. A 144-core fibre optic cable underpins the ICT infrastructure available.
Currently, Tamana is home to a variety of international and domestic tenants. Most notably, iQor, an international business processing outsource centre, has expanded its operations there from 60 employees in October 2015 to 700 today. Already in its first stage of development, the park has surpassed other industrial sites elsewhere in the country with an average of 800 visitors per day. The expanding population has led to the national transportation service operator to provide services to and from the park.
Besides increased transportation links, the government is also considering the development of onsite projects consistent with other commercial hubs – such as a cafeteria, restaurant, banking facilities and convenience shops.
As with any innovation hub, a prevalence of skilled minds and a young, highly educated workforce are vitally important. The Tamana Intech Park includes an onsite campus of the University of Trinidad and Tobago (UTT) serving as one of the largest tenants.
“This can be our Silicon Valley – where creation and collaboration can produce new high-paying sustainable careers,” says Maxie Cuffie, the minister of public administration and communication for Trinidad and Tobago.
The newly developed UTT campus is working on the creation of a specific ICT curriculum, as well as onsite arts and residential facilities. UTT’s presence offers business tenants a base of highly qualified recruits, as well as channels to engage in innovative conversation.
Environmental sustainability is at the forefront of the Tamana development, with many finished projects, including the Flagship Office Complex, utilising low levels of energy and water. The park is also uniquely located in a nature reserve of indigenous Moriche palms.
Tamana lies within 15 minutes of Piarco International Airport, which provides 40 direct flights to international destinations daily. The development site for the Piarco Aeropark is located in between Tamana and the airport, providing future tenants with easy access to international destinations.
Trinidad and Tobago is already an important Caribbean hub for the production of manufactured goods as well as oil and natural gas exports. If Tamana Intech Park reaches its full potential, the country could soon be positioning itself as the region’s innovation hub as well.
Source: fDi Magazine