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MU launches technology business incubator

Article by: Crismhil S. Anselmo and Robert Kobe T. Garcia

Graphics by: Andreah Faye G. Lapinid

In line with its goal of continuous innovation, Mapúa University (MU), in partnership with the Department of Science and Technology – Philippine Council for Industry, Energy, and Emerging Technology Research and Development (DOST-PCIEERD) and Digital Pilipinas, launched the Think and Tinker Laboratory, a technology business incubator (TBI) last January 27, 2022.

Thinking outside the box  

Coined by MU President and CEO Dr. Reynaldo B. Vea, the Think and Tinker Laboratory is the University’s very own technology business incubator, also called the MUTBI. According to Project Lead and Dean of the School of Graduate Studies  Dr. Jonathan Winston L. Salvacion, the MUTBI is among the University’s logical steps in its pursuit of encouraging and supporting the innovation and commercialization of technology, particularly those that are developed and curated within the school. 

Dr. Salvacion shared that the initiative was inspired by the success of the Universal Structural Health Evaluation and Recording System (USHER) Technologies, Inc., which was led by the Dean of the School of Civil, Environmental, and Geological Engineering Dr. Francis Aldrine Uy . He said that the establishment and development of the said spin-off “highlighted the need for an organization within MU that will nurture fledgling companies until they achieve traction (the ability to generate revenue to support itself).”     

Tinkering with tools

According to Dr. Salvacion, the DOST - PCIEERD served as the University’s primary funding agency for the establishment of the Think and Thinker Laboratory. He mentioned that the Council supported various training programs of the project leader in the Leadership in Innovation program run by the Asian Institute of Management with the Royal Academy of Engineering of the UK and a training of a staff member in the U.S. Agency for International Development. 

Aside from the DOST-PCIEERD, Digital Pilipinas (DP), a movement that aims to accelerate the development of businesses and entrepreneurships in creating a technology-thrived and globally competitive country, was selected as one of the collaborators for the laboratory’s establishment. Dr. Salvacion added that this was because of the shared interests in “developing innovations in the so-called nascent technologies […], providing mentors to incubatees, networking the TBI, and also creating innovative offerings through the CEESC and School of Graduate Studies.”  

The partnership with DP will last longer than the government support for the TBI as the role of DP will be carrying out faculty and student immersions as well as collaborative research and development projects. It also included the creation of micro-certification courses in collaboration with School of Graduate Studies.

Producing thinkers of innovation

The immediate objectives of the Think and Thinker Laboratory – Technology Business Incubation are organizing itself as an office, developing its initial services and curriculum for incubation, and recruiting its first incubatees.

Dr. Salvacion emphasized that the laboratory eventually aims to establish itself as a permanent organization that may be within or separate from the University. “The ultimate goal is to provide a system that will help the cradle-to-grave development of companies around technologies coming out of research, development and innovation activities in the University,” he stated.

The Project Lead added that the new facility will help realize MU’s mission and vision to provide solutions to societal needs  . Furthermore, the initiative would significantly transform Mapúan education as it entrenches needs-based and design-thinking, problem-solving, and creating into teaching, encouraging the translation of research into innovations. 

Future graduates of the University will be more attuned to problems of society, are more disposed to solve these problems, and be more entrepreneurial and innovative than present students because of the transformation of education in MU,”  Dr. Salvacion imparted.

After the successful inauguration of the Think and Tinker Laboratory during the celebration of the University’s 97th Foundation Week, the project team members’ next step is to conduct actual incubating activities. MU also hopes to collaborate with industry and local governments, other academic institutions, TBIs, organizations similar to DP, and ultimately the sectors within the University to create, improve, and deliver meaningful services to incubatees

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