Innovation center to boost MSMEs

Innovation stakeholders formally launched the Regional Inclusive Innovation Center (RIIC), a program aims to link micro, small, and medium enterprises, government, and academe in the development of technology and innovation for business growth. (Photo by Roberto A. Gumba Jr.)

WITH the aim to grow the local business through technology and innovation, the Regional Inclusive Innovation Center (RIIC) was formally launched, Wednesday, January 29.

Government and private stakeholders signed the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) of the RIIC which seeks to link micro, small, and medium businesses to potential innovators in the academe in crafting technologies that would improve their processes and add value to their products as well as take advantage of the innovation programs of government.

“It serves to create a virtual and physical regional innovation ecosystems made up of universities, research and development (R&D) laboratories, science and technology (S&T) parks, start-up incubators, fabrication laboratories, co-working spaces, investors, government agencies, start-up businesses, and micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs),” Department of Trade and Industry Davao Region (DTI-Davao) said in a statement.

DTI-Davao regional director Maria Belenda Ambi said the RIIC will initially focus on the MSMEs engaged in processed fruits and nuts and functional food and envisions to expand to other industries such as the creative sector.

“We focused on micro, small, and medium enterprises because they cannot do their own research [and development],” she said.

Ambi explained the program work in a demand-driven R&D wherein MSMEs propose projects or present challenges in their existing business to be subjected to ideation by the academe.

“It is demanded by the MSMEs themselves because they have existing businesses and they know what particular technology or process that they have to improve to come up with good products or other products as well,” she said.

“We have consulted with 19 MSMEs who submitted their requirements, but these are subject to consultation, product ideation, and project proposal preparation and these are taken up by academic institutions and potential funders,” she said.

Among the partner institutions of the RIIC are the Ateneo de Davao University (Addu), University of Mindanao (UM), University of the Philippines-Mindanao (UP-Min), and University of Southeastern Philippines (USEP). Addu and Usep are said to have career centers that can be utilized for this purpose.

DTI undersecretary for competitiveness and innovation group Rafaelita Aldaba said they have also partnered with professional accelerators and incubators to help the start-up and MSMEs with a network of investors and venture capitalists.

“Our start-ups are really fragmented. The RIIC hopes to link together the different players to be able to create a robust innovation, entrepreneurship and start-up ecosystem,” she said.

Davao City Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Inc. (DCCCII), which is also the RIIC’s anchor organization for innovation, is optimistic many local businesses would participate in the program because of the positive growth in the region.

“We are now at a very good point in our economic history because Davao Region has already experienced high level of growth for the last five years, higher than the rest of the country and at the same time very slow inflation,” DCCCII president John Carlo Tria said.

“That is a very good sweet spot for innovation because that means mataas ang purchasing power ng merkado and a lot of people are willing to buy new products to buy new things because they have more money to spend,” he added.

Stakeholders in the RIIC are composed of the regional offices of Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), Department of Science and Technology (DOST), Department of Information and Communication Technology Mindanao Cluster 3 (DICT), Commission on Higher Education (Ched), Department of Education (Deped), Department of Agriculture (DA), National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), Davao City Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Inc. (DCCCII), and the US Agency for International Development Science, Technology, Research, and Innovation for Development (Usaid Stride), and the Food Processors Association in Davao.


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