Instead of merely providing service assistance to proponents of new technology-based enterprises, the Technology Resource Center (TRC) is employing a joint-venture scheme as a strategy to push the commercialization of new technologies across the archipelago.
Speaking at the sidelines of the ongoing Technology Partnering Forum (TechForum) 2010 at the Philippine Trade Training Center, TRC Director General Dennis L. Cunanan said the joint-venture scheme has proven to be more effective in the successful startup and full commercial operation of a breakthrough technology-based project than the mere grant of financial assistance.
“The funds from our financial assistance could often be diverted to other purposes, unlike in a joint venture wherein the TRC could internally and actively see to it that its capital exposure was being used solely for the development and rollout of a breakthrough technology for commercial application and business operation,” Cunanan said.
He pointed to the success of TRC’s first-ever joint venture with the National Institute of Molecular Biology & Biotechnology at the University of the Philippines, Los Banos (Biotech-UPLB) for the mass production and marketing of Bio-N, a growth-enhancing bacteria-based fertilizer cultured from the ubiquitous cogon grass.
The bacteria can increase the production of rice and corn even in harsh conditions, thus generating savings of up to P1,350 per hectare from the reduced or forgone use of chemical fertilizers.
And after only eight years since the TRC inked its landmark P4.8-million joint-venture agreement with the Biotech-UPLB in December 2001, the Bio-N project is now a fast-growing business, eliciting offers from the private sector to buy out the TRC at a price of P10 million, or more than double its investment.
“Our asking price, however, is P15 million, and we can use this amount to enter into more joint ventures with other project proponents with similar breakthrough technologies for commercial application,” Cunanan stressed.
He cited as potential joint ventures the cassava-camote-calabasa flour-making technology in Mabalacat, Pampanga and the bamboo chopstick-toothpick-engineered wood project in Porac town of the same province.
“All these breakthrough homegrown technologies using indigenous raw materials can generate not only livelihood and employment, but also foreign exchange savings from import reduction and even dollar revenues from potential exports,” Cunanan said.
On the same note, Presidential Daughter Luli Arroyo-Bernas, in her remarks during the opening rites of TechForum 2010, cited the many indigenous and even ethnic technologies that the industry could tap and build upon to modernize the economy while protecting nature and ensuring sustainable development.
Bernas cited as examples the use of certain herbs for various specific illnesses, and even stones for detecting underground water sources instead of resorting to indiscriminate drilling.
“We just have to hurry and ask our old folks before all these native technologies die with them,” Bernas said.
For her part, Science & Technology Secretary Estrella F. Alabastro underscored the “quiet revolution” taking place in the country’s technopreneurial front.
“The (technological) developments, I must say, are really quite exciting from the vantage point of government since some of the fastest rising economic powerhouses in the world today have gone through the same route,” Alabastro stressed.
Alabastro was referring to the many new technologies on display at the TechForum’s Technology Showcase, the event’s exhibition component.
Also constituting the TechForum 2010 are the Idea-to-Liquidity Technology Symposium, Innovation Opportunity Camp, and TeknoBiz Idea Challenge, all comprehensively covering the various aspects of the technology commercialization process.