PTTC, CHED launch program to tighten academe’s links to private sector, community

A new training program aiming to strengthen academic entrepreneurship in state universities and colleges (SUCs) and bring academia closer to the private sector and the community as part of the supply or value chain has been launched.

The Advancement of Skills and Competencies of Entrepreneurs for Internationalization Agenda among State Universities and Colleges, or ASCEND-SUC—a joint project by the Philippine Trade Training Center-Global MSME Academy (PTTC-GMEA) and Commission on Higher Education (CHED)—was unveiled last July 15 during the MSME Week 2022 celebration.

According to Nelly Nita Dillera, executive director of PTTC-GMEA, the training arm of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), the ASCEND-SUC will assist state universities and colleges in realizing innovation and academic entrepreneurship, which refers to the process of commercializing technologies or research outcomes generated by individuals or groups of individuals in academic institutions.

Dillera said this project intends to develop a program that will establish academic entrepreneurship in the SUCs and connect them to the community, where they will operate as part of the supply or value chain.

She said they want to “bridge the gap between research and entrepreneurship” by “advocating and promoting the alignment of skills and competencies on what the requirement of the industry is.”

With the partnership, she said they will push for the creation of “a whole new ecosystem of industrial innovation.”

In his congratulatory remarks, DTI Assistant Secretary Glenn Peñaranda said the partnership “benefits the academe and the industry as we employ SUCs’ research and development expertise to create innovative products for the market and enrich products and service offerings that can compete both locally and internationally.”

He also stressed that SUCs can help in the effort to develop export products, and through this collaboration, including with the Department of Science and Technology, “we can build on the partnership so we can create regional development centers of innovation.”

Maricris Cura, brand advocate of ASCEND-SUC, said academic entrepreneurship will be developed by providing free training on the development, marketing, labeling, and commercialization of research-based products among the 114 state universities and colleges in the country.

Among the tasks under ASCEND-SUC is to profile and assess the entrepreneurship programs and services of SUCs to determine the needs and gaps that hamper the development of academic entrepreneurship.

Following this, Cura said the training program will focus on addressing and filling the gaps and needs in SUCs and in faculty skills to build the capacity to develop, produce, market and commercialize academe-based research and development, production and operations.

It will entail the development of relevant training programs for academic enterprises in the areas of product development, intellectual property registration, and market sensing, among others.

The joint initiative will also look at networking SUCs with possible suppliers of raw materials from the communities to loop them into the supply or value chain.

It also intends to introduce innovative products and services to potential MSME-investors for commercialization.

“Ultimately, this collaboration will connect academic enterprises with other DTI offices for a holistic enterprise development,” Dillera said.

CHED chairman J. Prospero De Vera III in his message of support said SUC fairs have shown the capability of SUCs to conduct research and produce products that can be commercialized. The ASCEND-SUC program aims to help SUCs “improve the viability of their products” and enhance the professional development of their personnel.

The program also looks at providing academic personnel training not only in research and production but also in the understanding of regulations and requirements relating to food, intellectual property and the like, as well as in the benchmarking of global best practices, he added.

“We also hope through this program that universities will understand how they can partner with small and medium enterprises and commercial establishments so that their products can eventually be brought to the shelves of our supermarkets,” he said.

Dillera said SUCs have been serving as R&D centers for new and innovative products ranging from nutrient-enhanced and functional food products to bio-stimulant products and vegetable blend powders. SUCs are also providers of R&D services including on biotechnology, early warning systems, mobile applications and image recognition and machine learning.

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