The University of the Virgin Islands Research and Technology Park — known as the RTPark — is poised to spur economic development that, "creates wealth, generates knowledge, and inspires and draws on the innate creativity and talent recognizing that we are in the Caribbean," the park’s new executive director told an audience Thursday evening.
Dr. Gillian Marcelle unveiled the RTPark’s new direction to the Virgin Islands community at a stakeholder reception Thursday on UVI’s St. Thomas campus, according to a news release from the university.
She referred to the vision forward as “RTPark Rebooted: RTPark 2.0.”
“The Research and Technology Park is an economic development agency with a unique positioning — designed as a partnership between government, academia and the private sector — and charged with fostering and facilitating economic diversification in a specialist area,” Marcelle said. “The RTPark will become an integral part of the fabric and landscape of the Virgin Islands.”
Marcelle outlined five areas on which the RTPark will focus: governance and management; business development; stakeholder engagement; technology, facilities and infrastructure; and finance and administration.
The RTPark will continue to attract investment in knowledge-based economic activity and will serve as an incubator for start-up firms, she said. It also will provide technology for development and advisory expertise to the territory’s political leadership. Park tenants will be encouraged to share knowledge, undertake joint projects and exchange ideas.
“The RTPark with its stunning flagship building on the St Croix campus has another responsibility, which is perhaps its most important,” Marcelle said. “That is to demystify technology.”
She said that while technology can seem daunting, people in the Caribbean must “punch beyond our weight” through the design and deployment of technological systems.
“We want to be part of a movement at the RTPark, starting with the young people,” she said. “Whether its solar technology, the functioning of wind turbines, sound engineering, digital Internet-based advertising, energy trading, telecommunication hosting services, data center management, smart-grid technologies for promoting energy efficiency, biomedical device design — the RTPark will become a site of discovery and learning so that no citizen or resident of the Virgin Islands believes that something is hands-off,” Marcelle said.
Edward Thomas, chairman of the RTPark board of directors, said that he is confident in the future of the RTPark after overcoming challenges faced in 2013 and 2014.
“We’re back on our feet,” Thomas said at Thursday’s reception. “We’ve hired a new executive director and we are moving forward.”
Marcelle is a senior executive, economic development policy advisor and scholar with more than 20 years of global experience. She trained as an economist at the University of the West Indies, Trinidad and the Kiel Institute of World Economics in Germany. She also earned a master’s degree in business at George Washington University and read for her doctorate in science and technology policy at the Science Policy Research Unit at Sussex University in the United Kingdom.
Marcelle’s extensive resume includes positions at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Wits University in South Africa, along with managing national and international clients of her own economic development advisory practice. Some of her clients include the United Nations and the World Bank.
“One of the things that impressed us the most was the combination of all of those skills in one person, who we felt was prime to take the park to the next level,” UVI President David Hall said. “We see the future as a bright one for the park and the university.”
For more information about the UVI RTPark, call 1-340-692-4300.