Faster processing times and more access to information can further improve the services of government TBIs (technology business incubators), according to Filipino entrepreneurs. 

You must be first in business at times, said Maresciel A. Yao, president and CEO of AV88 Corporation, which manufactures a wall panel made of bamboo. 

“Other countries, when they see an innovation that has potential, they would support the person, entity, or business more. They would really fast-forward everything, para ‘pag nagpa-patent ka, hindi ka kulelat, ‘di ba (so when you patent your innovation, you’re not going to end up last, right)?” Ms. Yao said in a March 4 Zoom call. 

AV88 applied to I-TECH, a technopreneurship program of the Department of Science and Technology’s Technology Application and Promotion Institute (DoST-TAPI), in collaboration with the LANDBANK of the Philippines.  

The program has a lending window with low-interest financing for the commercialization of patented inventions. 

Ms. Yao said their request for funding assistance took them between 8 months to one year. 

Sabi nga nila, while the iron is hot, dapat gawin mo na agad. Most probably, doon kailangan magkaroon ng improvement (As they say, strike while the iron is hot. Most probably, that’s where there needs to be an improvement).” 

Regardless, I-TECH’s P10 million funding to AV88 about two years ago was a “big help,” she told BusinessWorld. “It’s a big pool for us to be able to really push the product in the market.”

AV88 Corporation’s wall panel is accredited by the National Housing Authority as an alternative product for concrete hollow blocks. 


Information access 

For John Vincent Q. Gastanes, CEO of Farm Konekt Holdings, the points for improvement for DoST’s TBIs are access to information on the DoST’s services and programs; the provision of more technical experts; and a focus on rural-based projects. 

“I hope they have more platforms – like TV and radio – to share what they can do and offer, because I believe they can assist many people,” he sent in a March 5 SMS.  

Farm Konekt, a farm management platform that provides software for farms and companies in need of data support and system integration, was provided P7.8 million in funding on December 2023 by DoST-TAPI’s TECHNiCOM. 

The program provides multimillion grants to pre-commercialization projects and targets to fast-track the market readiness of locally developed technologies. 

“They provided funding for the IT (information technology) development of the integration system, developers, and equipment,” Mr. Gastanes said in another SMS on March 4. 

“DOST provided support to us so we can be at par and serve international markets,” he added. 

The only challenging part of applying to a TBI, he said, is proposal development: “It must adhere to the standards of DoST and be backed up by previous R&D (research and development).” 


Process improvement 

The DoST-TAPI said the technical evaluation for applications could entail clarifications from evaluators, resulting in the requirement for additional information. 

The process also “requires evaluation on the financial aspect and credit investigation or worthiness of the proponent, which is done by the Landbank of the Philippines,” it said in a March 5 email. 

Efforts are being made to improve its processes, the institute wrote. 

“This includes our hands-on assistance to facilitate pre-processing, orientations, and write shops,” it said through an email to BusinessWorld. “DoST-TAPI is on its second round of their write-shops this year.” 

“We restructured our application process, implementing abstract submissions prior to the full-blown proposal submission, for the efficient checking of eligibility and documentary requirements,” added Josiah M. Poyugao, a science research specialist II at DoST-TAPI. 

“DoST-TAPI is dedicated to assisting applicants at every stage,” he said in a February 14 Viber message. 

There is an ongoing call for abstracts for TECHNiCOM and i-TECH: . The deadline for both is March 31 at 5 p.m.Patricia B. Mirasol