Universities and startups have until this month to apply for grants funded by the Department of Science and Technology (DoST).
The HEIRIT (Higher Education Institution Readiness for Innovation and Technopreneurship) program prepares select universities to establish and operate technology business incubators (TBIs); while the Startup Grant Program provides funding support to startups with early-stage prototypes.
The HEIRIT program will be closed after this round.
“We already established 32 TBIs,” said Russell M. Pili, chief science research specialist and chief technology transfer officer of DoST PCIEERD (Philippine Council for Industry, Energy, and Emerging Technology Research and Development)’s Research Information and Technology Transfer Division.
“Depending on the circumstances for the next three to five years, PCIEERD will focus on strengthening TBIs and increasing their client reach,” she said in an e-mail. “Our long-term plan includes expanding our TBIs to science and technology parks in universities.”
A target of 25 universities will be selected to undergo training and preparation for TBI operations for the year 2022–2023 round, which closes on Feb. 14.
The HEIRIT program aims to assist higher education institutions in building their capacity for establishing and running an incubator.
Successful university applicants will be “handheld” in their first year of TBI operations; funding support between P10–15 million will be provided in the second year upon approval of a project proposal.
“We understand that the list of requirements may be daunting for universities, but we may also be surprised how determined some universities can be if they are really hungry for this opportunity,” Ms. Pili told BusinessWorld. “That zeal and enthusiasm are good qualities for future TBIs, and us in the government will be assured that our investments are in good hands.”
Among the recent TBIs launched under the program are Mapúa University’s Think and Tinker Laboratory, a fintech-focused business incubator; the Adamson University Technology Business Incubator for Neo-Environmental Science and Technology (AdUNEST); and Iloilo Science and Technology University’s Kwadra, which nurtures creative science and tech entrepreneurs.
The Startup Grant Program, meanwhile, is open for applications until Feb. 18. Startups requesting fund assistance should aim to overcome R&D (research and development) roadblocks, strengthen intellectual property, and establish initial market traction.
PCIEERD will provide R&D funding support up to P5 million to startups with proposals for early-stage prototypes to market-ready products.
The five priority areas under the program are sustainable industries, learning/education, remote work productivity tools, content and talent development for the creative industries, and industry data-driven solutions.
“For startups to increase their chances to be approved for the program, we encourage them to attend the proposal writeshop conferences,” said Edward Paul H. Apigo, senior science research specialist for DOST PCIEERD, in an e-mail. The conferences provide tips on proposal writing and also explain each proposal component.
The startup grant is one of the commitments of the DoST under the Innovative Startup Act. Said Ms. Pili: “Of course, it will still depend on the availability of funds, but support for startups right now is a priority for us.” — Patricia B. Mirasol