The Higher Education Institution Readiness for Innovation and Technopreneurship (HeIRIT) Development Program, aimed at establishing Technology Business Incubators (TBIs), was launched in April 2018. This initiative was a collaborative effort between the Department of Science and Technology – Philippine Council for Industry, Energy, and Emerging Technology Research and Development (DOST-PCIEERD), the UP National Engineering Center (UP NEC), and the DOST-UP Enterprise Center for Technopreneurship (UP Enterprise).
The program initially included 22 cohorts, and the University of Santo Tomas (UST) successfully met the criteria and became one of the participating Higher Education Institutions (HEIs). Engr. Raymond A. Marquez, MBA, ACPE, the Chair of the Electrical Engineering Department, was designated as the TBI Manager for UST. Dr. Michael Francis D. Benjamin, an Associate Professor and Resident Researcher, served as the Innovation and Technology Support Office (ITSO) Officer. Both individuals underwent comprehensive face-to-face and online training supervised by the UP Technology Transfer and Business Development Office (TTBDO).
The HeIRIT Project aims to achieve several key objectives. Firstly, it focuses on training managers to effectively operate TBIs, ensuring they possess the necessary skills and knowledge. Secondly, the program assists universities in meeting the requirements for establishing full-fledged TBIs. Finally, it strives to foster an entrepreneurial culture within the university, encouraging innovation and promoting an ecosystem conducive to entrepreneurship.
Since its establishment in August 2019, the TOMASInno Center (TIC) has made remarkable progress and achieved notable milestones. Following a successful soft launch in November of the same year, the office blessing was conducted on July 23, 2021, marking the beginning of the official UST TBI.
During its initial two years of operation, TIC has provided support to 23 start-ups and incubatees, guiding them through the challenges of technopreneurship and facilitating their growth. Additionally, TIC has conducted numerous webinars, benefiting approximately 1,500 students and academic staff members by imparting knowledge and fostering an entrepreneurial mindset.
TIC has also actively fostered partnerships and collaborations with various Technology Business Incubators (TBIs) and other community partners, establishing a strong network for knowledge exchange and resource sharing. Notably, TIC secured a substantial grant of 4.9 million pesos from Accenture Inc., enabling the center to further enhance its programs and support the research and development of selected incubatees.
In addition to its incubation program, TIC has played a vital role in assisting the Innovation and Technology Support Office (ITSO) in intellectual property (IP) filing. Notably, TIC supported the filing of patents, utility models, trademarks, and industrial designs for two UST-owned technologies developed by Engr. Anthony James Bautista, Ph.D., from the Faculty of Engineering. These groundbreaking inventions, namely LISA: Logistic Indoor Service Assistant Robot and AGROTIS: Agricultural GPS-guided Robobrain Tomasino Innovative System, showcase the innovative spirit and expertise within the UST community.
In a Graduation Ceremony on December 1, 2022 at the Dr. Robert Sy Grand Ballroom, Blessed Buenaventura Garcia Paredes, O.P. Building, UST, two TIC incubatees have achieved a significant milestone by successfully completing the Incubation Program and fulfilled all requirements outlined in the TIC Incubation Program Exit Policy. These promising ventures are now certified graduates of the DOST-TIC Incubation Program, namely, Cerebro, an EdTech startup that helps solve teachers’ workload issues with ready-to-use digital lessons and curriculum-aligned test banks; and, PainFree — Pain Management and Consulting, Inc., which helps people with musculoskeletal pain.