Bohol gets country’s first MIT-style creative FabLab

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Friday, May 2, 2014


TAGBILARAN CITY—President Benigno Aquino III led the turnover of the country’s first fabrication laboratory (FabLab) shared service facility (SSF) in Bohol yesterday.

The project, which is spearheaded by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), aims to spur local entrepreneurship and improve the competitiveness of the province’s creative sector.

The Bohol FabLab is a P9.15-million project funded by the DTI, Japan International Cooperation Agency, Bohol Island State University (BISU) and the Department of Science and Technology (DOST).

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A FabLab is a technical prototyping platform for innovation and invention that allows local manufacturers to make prototypes and products such as equipment, machinery and electronic gadgets; create scale models, illustrate graphic designs and mass-produce products, among others.

This technology-based incubator laboratory began in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to help grassroots communities translate their design ideas into physical forms with the help of technology. The facility is now present in about 200 locations in over 50 countries.

Free coaching

In the Philippines, it will be primarily managed by the BISU in Tagbilaran City. The facility will be under the guidance and mentoring of Keio University in Japan and will be connected to the global FabLab network, giving local access to free coaching and mentoring from other, more advanced FabLab sites.

Aquino said setting up a facility like the FabLab is an initiative meant to empower and strengthen the micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in the country. He said the facility is expected to benefit more than 100 MSMEs in Bohol.

The brief launching and turnover ceremony was attended by DTI Secretary Gregory Domingo and other DTI key officials and some of Aquino’s Cabinet members.

Bohol Gov. Edgar Chatto lauded the efforts of the government and foreign partners in realizing the project, saying that it is a “significant step” toward the post-earthquake recovery program of Bohol. The project, he said, will also be relevant in attaining inclusive growth in the province through job generation and manpower skills upgrade.

On top of enhancing the local MSME ecosystem, the facility will also support the product development and prototyping needs of MSMEs so they will be able to produce better quality and competitive products.

Design pool

“This facility will allow the creative sector in Bohol to think and compete globally,” said Chatto.

The project also seeks to develop a pool of designers in Bohol province through BISU System who can readily assist Boholano MSMEs in product design and development and to upgrade the framework conditions for design or creative work.

It encourages local innovations for various equipment that can be used for manufacturing endeavors, such as food processing equipment. It also provides access to online courses within the FabLab network and enhances the learnings and skills of students and MSMEs.

Aquino pledged his administration would continue to roll out programs that would spur local entrepreneurship. He said that through DTI, they have already set up over 400 SSFs across the country.

To jumpstart Bohol FabLab’s connection in the global FabLab network, the government and partner agencies also launched yesterday the 1st FabLab Asia Network (FAN1)
Bootcamp and Conference.

The six-day event, which started yesterday in Bohol, aims to enable local MSMEs, designers and innovators to come up with innovation-driven products that can compete in the marketplace. The event is anchored on the theme “Weave Asian Fabbers”. It will be attended by local MSMEs, designers, innovators, the academe, and export manufacturers who are interested in learning and connecting with coaches from Japan, Korea, Indonesia, and India, among others.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on May 03, 2014.

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