Urban Labs for Youth Innovation in Jamaica

Project under implementation


In 2016, Citi Foundation and the Trust for the Americas launched the DIA Urban Labs for Youth Innovation Project. DIA-Democratizing Innovation in the Americas is a regional initiative launched to foster innovation and empower new generations to create low-cost, high impact, innovations that improve livelihood opportunities and solve daily challenges in their communities. This project aims to inspire and provide skills to young Jamaican innovators- between the ages of 16 and 29- through innovation and entrepreneurship training, mentorship and access to state-of-the-arts technology. For 2018-2019, DIA Jamaica will enter a third phase to create a national youth innovation movement. The lab will bring innovation to other parishes and improve mentoring resources, skills development methodologies, and expand trainings, as well as increase the number of seed-funding opportunities.

Project purpose

DIA Jamaica seeks to promote solutions that generate livelihood opportunities and good governance in the region by bringing together academia, civil society, government officials, private sector entities, entrepreneurs and young innovators. 

Project goals

The Urban Lab will train 200 youth

Empower 400 community members through access

Provide $40,000.00 in seedfunding to support disruptive and incremental innovation projects

Main achievements

513 youth (46% female) have received innovation and technology training
638 community members have been empowered through access (69% female)
In Pitch Tank competitions, a total of 50 Projects have received start-up funds



Young innovators develop their ideas of potential projects


Participants develop their business model throught the ICI accelerator


Participants use state-of-the-art tools to materialize projects: make prototypes


Participants pitch their ideas, receive feedback from experts and are ready to go out, market and implement their ideas


Financial and technological resources and mentorship for projects demonstrating potential to transform communities

Strategic partners

Success Stories

Meet Miguel

Woodwork, Innovation, and Technology?

Miguel Francis, 26, is a pioneer in the woodwork business. With no formal training, Miguel’s artistry is self-taught and his abilities include cabinet making, furniture making, joinery, carpentry and engraving. Before attending DIA, Miguel created most of his products by hand. Since becoming a lab participant Miguel has been a frequent user of his favorite equipment, the laser cutter. In realizing the possibility of turning his talent into a viable business, Miguel immersed himself into DIA’s Innovation and Entrepreneurship Methodology, which led to him participate in the 2018 Pitch Tank Competition with the business idea “I Want To Make JA”. Through guidance from the Lab Team and his own aptitude and determination to excel, Miguel was successful in his bid to become a DIA Jamaica Pitch Tank Winner. Miguel integrated woodwork and technology by using Arduinos to create Wireless Bluetooth Speakers. Miguel has already outlined the usage of his grant funds and has developed his new business operation plan. 

Which of the following SDGS (Sustainable Development Goals) this project support?