SEARCA maps recommendations to strengthen DA-BAR’s Technology Business Incubation Program

  • By Mary Joy Grefaldo and Ma. Christina Corales
  • 23 February 2023, Thursday

LOS BAÑOS, Philippines – In a bid to strengthen the agriculture and fisheries technology-based enterprises in the country, findings and recommendations of the assessment study conducted by the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA) on the Technology Business Incubation Program of the Philippine Department of Agriculture - Bureau of Agricultural Research (DA-BAR) were presented on 20 January 2023 at the SEARCA Umali Auditorium.

Hosted by SEARCA’s Emerging Innovation for Growth Department (EIGD), the event was graced by key representatives of the DA-BAR led by Director Joell H. Lales as well as members of the SEARCA project team spearheaded by EIGD Program Head Asst. Prof. Glenn N. Baticados and Asst. Prof. Paul Joseph Ramirez, Project Leader and faculty of the University of the Philippines Los Baños - College of Economics and Management.

The DA-BAR-commissioned study was geared towards carving pathways to improve the existing and future technology business incubation programs of the agency by documenting and assessing the existing operations and implementation of the program. Recognized as a critical strategy in facilitating innovation and sustained development of startups and agri-entrepreneurs, supporting technology business incubators (TBIs) is a core initiative of the Philippine government to build the capacity of research for development (R4D) institutions in effectively facilitating the transfer and commercialization of research-based technologies to benefit a wider range of stakeholders.

DA-BAR and SEARCA officials, including the project team, during the final presentation of the study results on 20 January 2023.DA-BAR and SEARCA officials, including the project team, during the final presentation of the study results on 20 January 2023.

“The TBI provides the necessary mechanism to make a very pronounced transformative effect of R4D results towards the value chain,” Director Lales remarked at the opening of the event, emphasizing the role of the TBIs in achieving agri-development. “It is one concrete program for us to bridge the essential connection between research for development and that of extension support towards scaling, towards commercialization.”

Reaping the results

Insights showcased during the final presentation were a product of a three-month rigorous review and field visits to various DA-BAR-supported TBIs across the country. Among these sites are TBIs hosted by state universities and colleges such as the Capiz State University (CAPSU), Pampanga State Agricultural University (PSAU), Visayas State University (VSU), Mariano Marcos State University (MMSU), Benguet State University (BSU); DA-Regional Field Offices in Region II, Region IV-A, and Region XII; as well as TBI projects of the National Fisheries Research and Development Institute (NFRDI).

From these visits, the project team produced a comprehensive profiling of these selected TBIs with documentation of their existing processes and actual impact among stakeholders. During the event, discussions were focused on outlining technical and policy recommendations based on the study results to address existing challenges and guide the improvement of the TBIs. The project-level recommendations include making the program more inclusive and participatory, strengthening the monitoring and evaluation component of the program, focusing on demand-driven agri-fishery product development, providing customizable support for acceleration TBIs in business linkaging and capacity upgrading, and harmonizing efforts with existing initiatives of the agency.

Recognizing that the outputs and recommendations of this project will influence the implementation of DA-BAR’s Technology Business Incubation  Program, there is a need to ensure that the results of the projects are properly reviewed and vetted by the selected TBI stakeholders. A three-day validation workshop was thus conducted on 6-8 February 2023 at SEARCA. The workshop provided an avenue for selected TBIs and DA-BAR representatives to validate the results, clarify questions, and provide feedback and suggestions to the project team. The output of the workshop is a finalized set of recommendations that will be a concrete basis and input for the updating of the guidelines for the DA-BAR Technology Business Incubation Program.

Three-day validation workshop held on 6-8 February 2023.Three-day validation workshop held on 6-8 February 2023.

Director Lales recognized the relevant contribution of SEARCA and the project results in setting the outlook of the program. “Even beyond this, we look forward to a sustained and strong partnership with SEARCA,” declared Director Lales.

Asst. Prof. Baticados affirmed SEARCA’s sustained commitment to the project and concluded the event with a remark on the promising product of the partnership. “Everything is in place, and these initiatives are very timely, especially now as we go forward in modernizing agriculture,” he said.