The Education & Employment Directorate officially launched the St Helena Research Institute (SHRI) at dual events hosted on St Helena and in London on the 12th November 2019.
Ann’s Place, one of the Island’s cultural gems which has already been the platform for the Island’s first two International Environmental Conferences, provided a fitting venue for the St Helena based launch. In the UK invited guests were welcomed by SHG UK Representative Kedell Worboys, MBE, at Alliance House in London.
Despite being thousands of miles apart the two events were co-ordinated to deliver a similar programme of speeches, to reach out and spread the message that we are here and open for business and looking forward to working with all parties to support, develop, fund and expand the research activities and opportunities on St Helena.
On St Helena His Excellency Governor Dr Philip Rushbrook gave the opening address to about 80 guests. Governor Rushbrook said:
“This new Research Institute is a starting point for researchers on the Island, and those who come to our shores, to base their operations and be able to begin their important work as quickly and smoothly as possible. I have high expectations for the Institute to become a catalyst that encourages Saints to embark upon research of their own, to encourage researchers from around the world to see St Helena as a place of choice to conduct their work, and to be a gathering point for the many scientific studies undertaken here in past times. I hope too, that St Helena is now able to work in collaboration and share information with researchers around the globe.”
The Director of Education Director of Education & Employment, Wendy Benjamin described the background to the establishment of the SHRI and what research and the Institute means for Education and St. Helena.
“It is recognised that research is an important part of our learning and development. St. Helena’s Sustainable Economic Development Plan identifies research as a key element of bringing economic prosperity to St. Helena. The recent visit of researcher Professor Schaefer and his team of 10 MSc. students from the Technical University of Munich is an example of this. In addition, many of the aspirations for how we want St. Helena to grow and develop contained in our 10 Year Plan relies on research to improve knowledge and understanding to be able to determine the way forward.”
In the UK the SHRI was represented by Tara Pelembe, Deputy Director of SAERI and a member of the SHRI Steering Group, Dr Dawn Cranswick, Chief Executive for Economic Development and a member of the Research Council and former Steering Group Member Kirsty Joshua, now residing in the UK and working with UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) InnovateUK.
Kedell hosted 45 guests and the Rt Honourable Andrew Mitchell gave the opening speech. He said:
“St Helena is one of the most extraordinary, fascinating and rewarding places to visit in the world. With the island’s abundance of untouched resources and unique features it provides extraordinary opportunities for all visitors whatever their interests. The time is right for St Helena to reach its full potential as a prized destination.”
Summing up the event, Kedell added:
“A good cross section of people attended the launch in the UK, there was a positive vibe with people feeling excited about the possibility of working with the SHRI. The general comment was that the SHRI was a great initiative.”
Speeches by Tara Pelembe in the UK and Dr Rebecca Cairns-Wicks, SHRI Coordinator, on-Island, shared the same presentation to introduce the Research Institute, to celebrate the long history of science and Saint science on St Helena and academic achievement, past and present. And also, St Helena’s long history of international research collaborations, the growth of contemporary research and the growth of new collaborations.
Dr Rebecca Cairns-Wicks concluded:
“A big thank you to all the individuals and organisations who supported and worked tirelessly to establish the SHRI. We look forward to your continued support for SHRI and the UKOT research network as we move forward.”
The launch of the new Research Institute has given us an opportunity to celebrate achievements past and present and to encourage future enquiry. St Helena offers a wealth of potential research opportunities many needed to help us respond to island challenges: from natural capital and climate change to health, history and culture, to tourism, the fibre optic cable, destination marketing, exports, import substitution and investment.