A STUDY conducted by the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (Searca) has mapped recommendations and assessments to strengthen the country's agriculture and fisheries technology-based enterprises.

The Department of Agriculture-Bureau of Agricultural Research (DA-BAR)-commissioned study was conducted on the DA-BAR Technology Business Incubation (TBI) program, including those hosted by state colleges and universities, among others.

Among the TBI host SUCs are the Capiz State University, Pampanga State Agricultural University, Visayas State University, Mariano Marcos State University, Benguet State University, and others in the field offices of DA-Region 2, Region 4-A,

Presented at the Searca Umali Auditorium, the study was geared toward carving pathways to improve the existing and future technology business incubation programs of the agency by documenting and assessing the existing operations and implementation of the program.

According to Director Joell Lales of the DA-BAR, supporting TBIs is a core initiative of the Philippine government to build the capacity of research for development (R4D) institutions in effectively facilitating the transfer and commercialization of research-based technologies to benefit a wider range of stakeholders.

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He said this is recognized as a critical strategy in facilitating innovation and sustained development of startups and agri-entrepreneurs.

"The TBI provides the necessary mechanism to make a very pronounced transformative effect of R4D results towards the value chain," Lales said, adding it is one concrete program to bridge the essential connection between research for development and that of extension support towards scaling, towards commercialization.

According to Searca Director Glenn Gregorio, insights showcased during the final presentation were a product of a three-month rigorous review and site visits to various DA-BAR-supported TBIs in the country.

The project team produced from these visits a comprehensive profiling of these selected TBIs with documentation of their existing processes and actual impact among stakeholders.

During the presentation, discussions were focused on outlining technical and policy recommendations based on the study results to address existing challenges and guide the improvement of TBIs.

The project-level recommendations include making the program more inclusive and participatory, strengthening the monitoring and evaluation component of the program, focusing on demand-driven agri-fishery product development, providing customizable support for accelerating TBIs in business linkaging and capacity upgrading, and harmonizing efforts with existing initiatives of the agency.

Gregorio said there is a need to ensure that the results of the projects are properly reviewed and vetted by the selected TBI stakeholders, especially in recognizing that the outputs and recommendations of this project will influence the implementation of DA-BAR's TBI program.

On February 6 to 8, 2023 at the Searca headquarters in University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB), a three-day validation workshop was conducted and it provided an avenue for selected TBIs and DA-BAR representatives to validate the results, clarify questions, and provide feedback and suggestions to the project team.

The output of the workshop is a finalized set of recommendations that will be a concrete basis and input for the updating of the guidelines for the DA-BAR TBI program.

Lales recognized the relevant contribution of Searca and the project results in setting the outlook of the program.

"Even beyond this, we look forward to a sustained and strong partnership with Searca," he said.

Assistant Prof. Glenn Baticados, Searca's Emerging Innovation for Growth Department (EIGD) program head, affirmed Searca's sustained commitment to the project and concluded the event with a remark on the promising product of the partnership.

"Everything is in place, and these initiatives are very timely, especially now as we go forward in modernizing agriculture," Baticados said.

Hosted by EIGD, the event was graced by key representatives of the DA-BAR led by Lales as well as members of the Searca project team spearheaded by Baticados and Assistant Prof. Paul Joseph Ramirez, Project Leader and Faculty of the UPLB College of Economics and Management.