DISC-TBI: An S&T Breakthrough

On March 24, marked the event for Isabela State University for the launch of the DOST-ISU Smart City Technology Business Incubation (DISC-TBI) with its guests and partners, in hopes of generating jobs for students and researchers, cultivating aspiring entrepreneurs, and fostering innovative regional partnerships in the future for start-ups. The program was launched at the 2nd Floor Gymnasium, Isabela State University-Cauayan City Campus, from 2:30 to 5:00 pm.

The DISC-TBI program embarked on its official launch with a ribbon cutting, blessing of facility tour by Fr. Patrick Pua, and unveiling of the edifice spearheaded by DOST Secretary Renato Solidum Jr., Hon. Caesar “Jaycee” Dy Jr., Ms. Russell Pili, Dr. Virginia Belgera, Dr. Ricmar Aquino, and Dr. Precila Delima, together with the industry partners, DOST Usec/Asec/Executive Directors, Regional Line Agency Directors, and ISU Officials, as well as the LGU Cauayan City Officials, are also present.

“In almost a week of engaging the first iSCENE 2023, we could have said that we ripened the fruits of our collaboration,” said Dr. Ricmar Aquino, University President of Isabela State University, as he delivered his welcoming address. He also stated that the program is not just about assisting individual start-ups to succeed but also about fostering innovation and entrepreneurship as more robust and sustainable, creating needed jobs, and attracting talent in the regions by promoting greater economic project creation. The program aimed to develop students not only as technology generators but also as successful entrepreneurs.

The lead of the project and Business Intelligence Research and Development Center (BIRD-C) Director, Dr. Betchie Aguinaldo, comprehensively introduced the DOST-ISU Smart City TBI framework together with its ups and downs. And to recognize the role played by the industry partners in being able to build and plan for incubators, she quoted Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: “One man can be a crucial ingredient on a team, but one man cannot make a team.”

It all started with the BIRD-C project by DOST, ISU, and Cauayan City during the prior pandemic in 2020. Typically, the projects were generated by DOST funding over a span of two years with the aim to achieve the University Innovation Platform, which can capture ideas from start-ups, undergraduates, and other potential sources. However, with the collaborative effort and support from the regional line agencies as well as the trainings provided by RITTD-DOST PCIEERD Chief, Ms. Russell Pili, ISU is now equipped for TBI operations and a trained incubator for the Cagayan Valley Region. Together with its mission to be an enabler of start-up economies and to generate technology-based companies through smart city technologies that will strengthen industry, innovation, and infrastructure in the Cagayan Valley by the year 2025, the DOST-ISU Smart City TBI and DISC-TBI incubators are deemed to be self-sustaining.

“We want to see our start-ups build their own companies in the Cagayan Valley Region. We believe that if we have our start-up here, we will not see our graduates anymore in the department store as clerks, because they don’t have any choice. We want them to have a platform,” said Pili on her behalf.

Executive Officer of ISU-CCC, Dr. Precila Delima, heartedly expressed her messages of commitment during the program’s launch for groundbreaking business incubation that forges collaboration and composes ideas that would be appropriate for bench marketing to provide for start-up companies.

She recognized and pledged to ensure ISU’s commitment and power to organize the decisions of all partners and stakeholders to act on supporting and strengthening industry, innovation, and infrastructure so that it can work in synergy with government and non-government agencies in sharing the same vision of empowered start-ups utilizing Smart City technology in the Cagayan Valley region.

Moreover, as they delivered their messages of support, Dr. Virginia Bilgera, Regional Director of DOST-Region II, hoped that the incubatees would grow into industries in the future.

In addition, United Cities Representatives Ms. Seok Mei Goh of Singapore, Mr. Dominic Wilhelm of South Africa, and Dr. Bert Grobben of Budding Innovation/National University; GCORE representative Jasper Nicolas, however, says they want to help Cauayan City be the first city in the entire country that has (1) one card that rules them all that integrates all purchases into one, and enable citizens to earn points from all their transactions with the help of other industrial partners and all other technology providers who are willing to help in this endeavor. They also promised to provide computers as well as free cloud services.

Additionally, the keynote speaker, Dr. Renato Solidum Jr., Secretary of the Department of Science and Technology, stated that “when you embark on applying smart technologies to develop smart cities, you need to start small; aside from starting small, you must begin in the dark.” He also ensured that they will fulfill their missions as the DOST-ISU Smart City TBI, which is to be a retriever of start-up economies to generate technology-based companies for smart city technologies that will strengthen industry, innovation, and infrastructure in the region.

The 8-Point Socioeconomic Agenda of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. permitted them to create jobs, and most importantly, quality jobs, through science and technology innovation. On top of that, to give impact to his speech, he says, “Lagi po nating tandaan, sa siyensiya at teknolohiya, negosyo niyo ay tiyak kikita. Sa siyensiya at teknolohiya, industriya aarangkada. Sa siyensiya at teknolohiya, mukha ng mga Pilipino ay may pag-asa.” He ended the statement with the phrase, “We don’t only work hard. We work smart.”

Hon. Caesar “Jaycee” Dy, Mayor of Cauayan City, expressed his full support for the project and shared the similarities between ISU and the characteristic of a “kawayan,” or bamboo, amidst pandemic operations; it bends when a strong wind comes, and stands firm again when the sun comes out. Additionally, he said that the project will help ISU-CCC develop new entrepreneurs in the city by incorporating students’ engagement in making solutions to the city’s problems.

The event was attended by the representatives of Huawei Technologies Inc., Multisys, GCORE, , SN Aboitiz-Magat, SINAG Cagayan Valley TBI Consortium, and the Philippine Chamber of Commerce, along with the Regional Line Agencies, particularly NEDA, DTI, DA, DOLE, CHED, DICT, CEZA, and PCCI, and more dignitaries.
Article by: Joice Danao and Nathaniel Puwok Photo by: Sharlyn Joi Guillermo