Since its launching in 2014, PhilDev has been successful in deploying various international professors to Philippine universities for the Visiting Professors Activity. A total of 26 US professors have visited 19 universities in the Philippines since its first implementation.
The Visiting Professors activity provides a venue for knowledge exchange and sharing of expertise and knowledge on entrepreneurship and aims to forge long-term partnerships and collaborative opportunities between local and international universities. It also helps develop and strengthen the TechHubs housed in these partner universities. The crafting of the Technopreneurship 101 subject was one of the outputs derived from feedback from previous deployments.
Through the Innovation for Social Impact Partnership (ISIP) project which PhilDev co-implements with UNDP in the Philippines, and supported by the Australian Embassy in the Philippines. It aims to support the implementation of the Technopreneurship 101 subject by integrating social impact. This year’s Visiting Professors activity commenced in August.
The first batch of professors include Meike Siegner, a PHD candidate in Sustainable Management from the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada; and Eugene Noh, a returning professor, Program Director of the Bay Area National Science Foundation Innovation-Corps (NSF I-Corps). Both professors were deployed for 5 days in their respective host universities.
Innovation and Sustainability Management
Meike was deployed in the University of San Carlos (USC) in Cebu City where she provided lectures, discussions, consultations, and mentorship focusing on sustainability management, digital storytelling, and topics on circular economy. She also had one-on-one mentorship sessions with the startups in the USC TechHub Incubator program.
“I am very impressed with the existence of a very active entrepreneurial ecosystem and many local solutions tackling pressing social and environmental issues. There is great awareness already. I am impressed with how much innovation and insight is present on the ground and how much ingenuity is already being applied” said Meike about startups she met with in Cebu.
Kenneth Joseph Baylosis, CEO and Founder, Zoog Technologies and Micab Systems Corporation, is one of the startup founders in USC’s Incubator. He was present during the mentorship session with Meike. “It’s always better to link [up] with people outside of your box so that you will know what’s really going on around. That initial talk [with Meike] is giving me ideas like in considering expanding the business to other areas. I learned that in her area in Vancouver, there is a potential for expansion of my business,” explains Kenneth.
USC has been hosting Visiting Professors from 2014 until 2016. Dr. Evelyn Taboada, Dean of USC’s College of Engineering shares the value that the Visiting Professors bring to their university. “We always look forward to this Visiting Professor activity because as an academic institution, we always benchmark to other universities and we appreciate experts in the field, and we are willing to learn from them. Especially when professors are very open to also learn and share their expertise,” she said.
Meike’s experience with USC has opened up opportunities for learning for her as well. “I had a great experience at this university [USC]. USC, to me, is an excellent example of a place of thoughtfulness, innovation, inspiration, and a lot of already existing opportunities and initiatives that have been already built over the years. I felt very honored to be entering into a very active system of incubators, startups, teaching innovation in the areas of sustainability and social entrepreneurship. I found it a great place to connect my research and background in circular economy models in place-based, natural-resource based social enterprise activities,” said Meike.
Continuing the Collaboration
Eugene Noh was first deployed as a Visiting Professor in the University of Science and Technology of Southern Philippines (USTP) in 2016. Three years later, he returns to the same university to share further his expertise and experience on entrepreneurship and innovation.
“Since we started this together with Prof. Noh three years ago, it just validates that we are moving in the right direction. He was even surprised that there have been a lot of activities going on not just in TechHub but also for other projects. So we are as excited as him to continue this and hopefully, through collaboration with departments inside USTP, we could move to another level,” explains Engr. Bronson Mabulay, USTP TechHub Manager.
During his deployment this year, Eugene conducted lectures and sessions that focused on Technopreneurship and market validation. He shared UC Berkeley’s best practices in technopreneurship and social entrepreneurship education.
Eugene draws the same observation as Meike when it comes to the local entrepreneurship landscape “One of my observations was that there is a deep awareness of the social problems whether they be access to water, food security, or transportation, or job creation. The problems are ones that people experience on a daily basis,” he said.
Anchored on his concrete experience in incubator management from Sutardja Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology and at the Citris Foundry, Eugene conducted workshops on incubation management with the members of USTP’s TechHub staff. During the workshop, he discussed the essential elements of an incubation program, including capacity building through trainings. Eugene also shared tips on how to select and onboard mentors in the incubation program.
One of the main activities during his deployment was the Investment Forum which was participated by faculty members of USTP, incubatees of the USTP TechHub, startups, local cooperatives, and representatives from the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA), Department of Trade and Industry, and the Department of Information and Communications Technology. It aims to bring together key decision-makers, investors, entrepreneurs/startups in the region and address the existing investment gap in the startup ecosystem in Mindanao. He sat as one of the panel members of the forum along with Mylah Cariño of NEDA Region X, Jonathan De Luzuriaga of Spring Valley Tech, Dr. Ambrosio Cultura, Vice-Chancellor for Research and Innovation of USTP, and Eileen San Juan, Local Economic Investment Promotion Officer of the City Government of Cagayan de Oro. He shared about the different the different types of investors in Silicon Valley and the types of investments. He also shared tips on how to increase chances of getting invested in.
“When I was here in 2016, we can only imagine who potential investors might be. And now three years later, some of the local cooperatives have not just expressed deep interest [in investing], but gone as far as to sign a memorandum of agreement to run a startup training program alongside USTP and CDO b.i.t.e.s,” Eugene shared.
PhilDev has been working with USTP in various projects on innovation and technopreneurship education. In 2018, they formally became part of PhilDev’s TechHub Networks. “One of the missions of USTP is to support entrepreneurs, so therefore TechHub is the front and center into leading and operating this mission. We have decided to become a Center, an institution under the university after the CHEd funding, so that we could really execute what was in the mission,” said Engr. Bronson.
Dr. Bronson also emphasizes on the value of partnering with PhilDev on the TechHub project. “Before the TechHub, we already have partners in the industry. But through this, I think we could accelerate our partnerships.”
“It’s exciting to see the impact that my efforts could have. As much as I’m impressed with what they’re doing, the fact that I can come in and help accelerate their efforts, it seems like a dynamic place so I’m personally fulfilled to be involved in the [Visiting Professors activity],” Eugene shared.