The government’s program to support innovative agri-aqua startups is getting a shot in the arm with the signing of a Joint Administrative Order (JAO) between the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).
The JAO aims to push for the attainment of the objectives of the Innovative Startup Act or Republic Act (RA) No. 11337 to aid the growth of innovative startup companies and business ventures in the country.
The law seeks to provide incentives and streamline government procedures to encourage establishment and operation of innovative new businesses. The incentive will be through Startup Grant Fund (SGF) under each of the three departments to provide initial and supplemental Grants-in-Aid (GIA) for qualified startups and startup enablers.
The policies espousing for an innovative entrepreneurial culture are expected to benefit the National Agri-Aqua Technology Business Incubation (ATBI) Program of the DOST’s Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCAARRD).
The ATBI program promotes innovation and technopreneurship in the agriculture, aquatic, and natural resources (AANR) sector. It supports the commercialization of mature technologies by nurturing and establishing viable agribusinesses under an ATBI facility, which hosts startups and provides business development services.
PCAARRD has established several ATBIs in the country in the last couple of years. The agency supports ATBIs at the Sultan Kudarat State University (SKSU) in Tacurong City and the University of Southern Mindanao (USM) in Kabacan, North Cotabato. It also supports ATBIs at the Central Luzon State University (CLSU) in Muñoz, Nueva Ecija and University of the Philippines Visayas (UPV) in Miagao, Iloilo.
The SKSU ATBI, established in 2018, currently supports eight incubatees that have reportedly generated a total gross income worth P3,261,205.50 since enrolling in the ATBI.
The USM ATBI, on the other hand, was established in 2020 and supports four incubatees commercializing PCAARRD-funded technologies on in vitro culture of banana using floral apex and halal chevon processing.
The CLSU and UPV ATBIs are now in their phase 2 of implementation. CLSU has 39 incubatees and four enrolled in its acceleration program while UPV has 20 incubatees.
PCAARRD provided a total of P30.4 million for the four ATBIs.
In 2021, PCAARRD has allotted another P30.1 million for the establishment of the ATBIs at the Mariano Marcos State University (MMSU) in Batac, Ilocos Norte and the second phase of ATBIs in Benguet State University (BSU) in La Trinidad, Benguet; Cavite State University (CvSU) in Indang, Cavite; Isabela State University (ISU) in Echague, Isabela; and Visayas State University (VSU) in Baybay City, Leyte.
Likewise, in January 2021, PCAARRD supported the first-ever co-incubation agreement among ATBIs to be situated at the Laguna State Polytechnic University Agri-Aqua Technology Business Incubator (LSPU-ATBI) in Los Banos, Laguna through the virtual signing ceremony of a memorandum of agreement.
The ATBIs of the Don Mariano Marcos Memorial State University (DMMMSU) in Ilocos Sur and the Forest Products Research and Development Institute (DOST-FPRDI) in Los Banos, Laguna will serve as partner ATBIs that will share their respective technologies on chevon dishes in retort pouch and antimicrobial products made from tawa-tawa plant with local businesses.
In other parts of the country, the ATBIs of the Western Philippines University (WPU) in Palawan, Capiz State University (CapSU) in Roxas City, Western Mindanao State University (WMSU) in Zamboanga City, and Central Mindanao University (CMU) in Maramag, Bukidnon have 51 incubatees commercializing different technologies on aquaculture, fish processing, mushroom production, and ethnobotanical anthelmintics for poultry, among others. — Joel Eneristo A. Joven, DOST-PCAARRD S&T Media Services