MICRO, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in Negros Occidental may avail themselves of various technology upgrading assistance from the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) through its Small Enterprise Technology Upgrading Program (Set Up) Innovation Fund (i-Fund).
DOST-Negros Occidental director Allan Francis Daraug said that a budget of P17.7 million has been allocated for the implementation of technology innovation projects this year.
Set Up is DOST’s key strategy to boost the competitiveness of MSMEs through the provision of science and technology-based interventions.
This includes technical consultancy services, product development, process and equipment upgrading, technology trainings, laboratory and testing services, packaging and labeling assistance, among others.
Priority sectors are those belonging to food processing, furniture, gifts, decors and housewares, agriculture, aquaculture and marine, metals and engineering, information and communications technology (ICT), and pharmaceuticals and health products.
Daraug said most of the beneficiaries of the program in the province are those in food processing, and metals and engineering sectors.
These beneficiaries repay the total cost of the assistance to the government for three years without interest, he added.
DOST-Negros Occidental records showed that Set Up has already benefited some 106 MSMEs in the province.
Data obtained by SunStar Bacolod earlier showed that the agency also allocated P17.7 million for facility upgrading last year, higher than the P12.6 million in Set Up assistance in 2017.
Under the program guidelines, recipient-enterprises should have been existing for at least three years in the manufacturing industry authorized by the Department of Trade and Industry and Securities and Exchange Commission, or Cooperative Development Authority for cooperatives and with necessary permits from the local government unit.
The application process includes submission of audited financial statement and technology and project implementation sheet. Recipients will also undergo technology needs assessment.
Qualified enterprises should also submit a semi-annual report or project information sheet to determine if it has generated jobs and improved the product quality and sales.
In terms of payment, enterprises are given a one-year grace period before the start of payment.
Meanwhile, the Set Up i-Fund forms part of the implementation of Set Up 2.0, which integrates interventions at the industry and sector level aside from addressing firm-level science and technology constraints.
Set Up 2.0 will be implemented fully by next year. It provides the framework to the different interventions delivered to MSMEs and industries by the DOST regional offices and other attached agencies.
Interested enterprises may inquire through the DOST Provincial Office at Cottage Road in Bacolod City, or through 435-9175. (EPN with reports from PIA-Negros Occidental0