Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Undersecretary for Research and Development (R&D) Dr. Rowena Cristina L. Guevara, together with Regional Director for DOST-XI Dr. Anthony C. Sales and Assistant Regional Director for Development and Innovation Dr. Kenneth D. Barroga, visited the University of Southeastern Philippines on February 1, 2020 to check on the status of DOST-funded programs and projects and lauded the university for its research endeavors, especially the academe-industry collaborations it has formed and maintained.

Research teams from USeP gathered to share to the visiting officials status and updates of the key programs and projects funded by the DOST. These were the following: AGILab Technology Business Incubation (TBI); Development and Pilot-Testing of Tree Climbing Device and Mobile Dehusker for Coconut; Development and Optimization of an Automated Combined Mechanical Demucilager-Fermentor-Dryer for Cacao; and, Synergize Academe-Industry Research Undertaking To Improve Productivity and Efficiency Through Technology Adoption and Development (CRADLE project).

The AGILab is a technology business incubator established under USeP with funding from DOST-PCIEERD. AGILab stands for Advancing Great Ideas Laboratory and is aimed at building a thriving innovation ecosystem of tech innovators, mentors, investors and innovation enthusiasts. Funding for the project began in March 2019. During the meeting with USeC Guevara, the University’s Technology and Business Manager Engr. Franch Maverick Lorilla, representing the Knowledge and Technology Transfer Division (KTTD), provided updates on the status of the incubatees. AGILab’s milestones so far are the incubation of a breastmilk e-commerce platform which recently received seed funding from a private firm and SHOFAR, a faculty-led innovation solution which increases the capacity of disaster offices to respond quickly and seamlessly to local disaster events.

On the other hand, the project on synergizing academe-industry research (CRADLE) involved successful partnership with USeP and Hijo Resources Corporation. Developed was a disease surveillance system aimed to help reduce cost in controlling black sigatoka disease. Dr. Val Quimno, Dr. Gilbert Importante and Dr. Cecirly Puig were at the helm completing this project utilizing precision farming technologies. It was begun in November 2017 and completed last November 2019.

Another DOST-funded project, meant to help the cacao industry, is specifically aimed to mechanize and shorten the total processing time of cacao beans (mucillage removal, fermentation, drying) using a single machine (demucilager, fermenter, dryer). Project leaders for the development and optimization of the Automated Combined Mechanical Demucilager-Fermentor-Dryer for Cacao are Dr. Roger Montepio and Engr. Roland Bayron with Engr. Ryan Abenoja as Project staff. The research team said that the device has begun its fabrication of the device. Completion of the project is due December 2021.

Updates from the project involving the development and pilot-testing of tree climbing device and mobile dehusker for coconut were likewise shared to the officials. The device to be developed shall eventually replace manual climbing and pole method (for fruit-picking) and use of pointed sharp tools (for dehusking) which pose danger to unskilled workers. Project Leader Engr. Ryan Abenoja updated the officials that the device is in its fabrication stage.

Usec Guevara expressed her congratulatory message to the University, saying: “We (at the DOST) are not disappointed with USeP for the excellent work” adding that she constantly mentions USeP in her speaking engagements as a fine example of industry-academe collaboration.

And as researchers gain monetarily from the technologies (in terms of royalties, for example), she said this could encourage others to do research of their own. However, she reminded USeP researchers that social and economic impacts of its research activities should be carried on as a significant pursuit.

Aside from the project/program heads and representatives, other University officials, including Dr. Shirley S. Villanueva, Vice President for Research, Development and Extension, and Dr. Eleonor T. Callena, Director of Research Division, were present during the event.

USec Guevara is in town to lead the Mindanao Cluster Call for Proposal slated February 3, 2020 at the Royal Mandaya Hotel to promote the various research funding opportunities of the DOST. (With reports from NConde, RMABenoja, FMLorilla)

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