Jamaican company pumps $20-million in new UWI blue economic centre

By Hanan Redwan Published on March 18, 2022
Jamaican company pumps $20-million in new UWI blue economic centre

Jamaican company National Baking Company has provided a grant of US$130,000 or approximately $20 million to the University of the West Indies (UWI) for the establishment of an entity to focus on the blue economy in the region. 

The UWI and the National Baking Company Foundation signed an agreement last week for the setting up of the Centre of Excellence for Oceanography and Blue Economy (COBE).

COBE will be based at the UWI's Five Islands Campus in Antigua and Barbuda.

It is scheduled to open on August 1. 

UWI Vice Chancellor Professor Sir Hilary Beckles applauded the National Baking Company and its founder Gary “Butch” Hendrickson, noting that the partnership fits into the university's strategic plan to improve alignment with industry. 

Beckles said the partnership is important to the development of the marine and blue economy, which is critical to the future of the region. 

Five Islands' principal Professor Densil Williams said the centre will be a game-changer in the diversification of the economic sectors of the region.  

“It is important to note that the centre will be at the forefront of leading research and innovation on all issues related to the blue economy so that we can find new avenues for wealth generation using our vast ocean resources in the Caribbean,” he explained at the launch on March 7. 

Speaking to the importance of the centre, director of the National Baking Company Foundation, Craig Hendrickson, said climate change affected all the islands of the Caribbean and will have implications for business, all of which, he said, are users of the ocean in one way or another.  


The World Bank defines the blue economy as the sustainable use of ocean resources for economic growth and job provision while preserving the health of the marine and coastal ecosystem.

The ocean economy in the Caribbean is worth approximately US$407 billion, according to a 2016 World Bank paper. 

The COVID-19 induced crisis that hit the tourism-dependent economies of the region, including Jamaica, has intensified discussions about economic diversification.

Hanan Redwan

Hanan Redwan

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