Key officials from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) arrived at the University of Southeastern Philippines on January 29, 2020 for a visit to the FabLab and AGILab, USeP’s technology incubation laboratories, and a briefing on the industry-engagement initiatives being implemented by the university through the support of the USAID STRIDE (Science, Technology, Research and Innovation for Development) Program.
In recent years, USAID/Philippines, through the STRIDE program, has been assisting USeP in its mission to boost its R&D and innovation capacity.
Dr. Bonifacio Gabales Jr., the Vice President for Academic Affairs, welcomed the delegation led by DTI Undersecretary for Competitiveness and Innovation Dr. Rafaelita Aldaba, and USAID/Philippines Office of Education Director Mr. Thomas LeBlanc. They were also joined by USAID/Philippines Senior Education Adviser Mr. Mir Tillah and STRIDE Chief-of-Party Dr. Richard Abendan. According to Dr. Abendan, the USAID-STRIDE program embraces the ”Filipinnovation Roadmap” being spearheaded by USec. Aldaba’s DTI, the DOST, and key national agencies – particularly in building the capacity of Philippine higher education institutions (HEIs) to develop talent and generate innovation in partnership with industry and government, that ultimately contribute to an inclusive economic and social growth. Among the most recent initiatives of USeP towards this goal are the creation of the Knowledge and Technology Transfer Division and the Career and Alumni Center, through the support of STRIDE, and the establishment of AGILab and DigiHub FabLab facilities under the DOST-DTI-USEP collaboration.
USAID-SUPPORTED PROGRAMS MAKE STRIDES
STRIDE programs in USeP continue to add to both agencies’ growing list of milestones.
Engr. Franch Maverick Lorilla from the KTTD AGILab, a program meant to assist entrepreneurs in incubating start-ups, and himself one of STRIDE’s grantees, presented the milestones of the Division on behalf of Director Filmann Simpao, himself a STRIDE trainee.
Among the accomplishments of USeP’s technology transfer program are the filing of 97 patents (1 utility model, 7 industrial designs, and 4 trademarks as of January 2020) and the incubation of 6 start-ups.
AGILab as USeP’s Technology Business Incubation (TBI) Unit has initiated blockchain training events last year to inspire students towards innovating ideas that can revolutionize a budding industry.
It is worth-noting too that USAID-STRIDE has supported funding for the research on wireless sensor network (WSN) application for smart monitoring and control system for drought.
On the other hand, the Career and Alumni Center led by Dr. Mary Ann Cacananta continues to provide career development services to all USeP students since being trained by STRIDE back in 2017. The university, through the CAC “USeP Connect” platform, has also improved its alumni employment tracking systems and has managed to up the tracking by as much as 30% in 2019 compared to its previous years.
AGILab: USeP’s EAGLE VERSION OF THE UNICORN
One of the main goals of AGILab is to incubate or help develop the first start-up in Davao targeted to reach US$ 1 billion, with the help of sustained advancement in Internet of Things, Systems Applications Development, Industrial Technologies, and Blockchain. A start-up with said valuation is called “unicorn” in the parlance of the venture capital industry. But with the creative mindset of the KTTD, “we’d rather call it eagle,” says Engr. Lorilla, to hold in esteem the symbol of the university.
According to Usec. Aldaba, the DTI has already funded as many as 30 start-ups from SUCs in Region XI and is expecting to fund more.
“I am excited to see the shape AGILab will take in the future.” She added that the DTI can “come in, further improve the quality of the start-ups, and increase their probability of success. We will continue to encourage more start-ups. We will create the ecosystem for you.” (AMJEligio/JOLadaga)