The University of Santo Tomas held the solemn blessing and formal inauguration of the UST-Tony Tan Caktiong Innovation Center (UST-TTCIC) at its 40-hectare campus in Santa Rosa City, Laguna. The rites coincided with UST’s 412th foundation anniversary on April 28, 2023.
The innovation center is named after its donor Dr. Tony Tan Caktiong, Chairman and Founder of Jollibee Foods Corporation (JFC). Tan Caktiong graduated from the UST in 1975 with a Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering. He also received a Doctorate in Business Administration, honoris causa, from UST in 2018.
In his message, Tan Caktiong expressed his joy over the completion and inauguration of the innovation
center and its significance to the UST community, as well as to the future of the Philippines.
“This state-of-the-art innovation center in the midst of the UST community is intended to champion innovation and entrepreneurship with its end in mind to benefit not only the University, but also the country and society as a whole,” Tan Caktiong said. “This Center can serve as a catalyst for promoting innovation that fosters connection, empathy, and compassion, and I am very excited to see the impact it can have on many people’s lives and well-being.”
Innovation for a better future
Tan Caktiong has always been passionate about innovation and continuous learning, evident in how he steered JFC from a single-brand company into one of the world’s largest restaurant companies with 16 brands operating over 6,500 stores across 34 countries.
“I am very thrilled of how this Center perfectly aligns with my ardent belief in the incessant thirst for continuous learning and dreaming big, all the more so as the pace of change in the world is increasingly becoming more rapid,” he said. “Being unable to adapt can put in question one’s relevance and render one’s knowledge, skills, and even entire businesses obsolete.”
Tan Caktiong added: “Innovation is not only an engine for economic growth, but also a tool for social transformation. As we build back better from the pandemic, this Center is in a remarkable position to harness the power of science and entrepreneurship in developing products and processes that can promote food security and improve livelihoods, especially in the rural areas.”
Partnership for nation-building
UST Rector Very Rev. Fr. Richard G. Ang, O.P., Ph.D., in his message, shared that “The UST-TTCIC is designed to foster creativity and collaboration. It will be a place for researchers, innovators, and entrepreneurs to exchange ideas, share knowledge and work together towards a common goal–creating a better future. The various laboratories, workshops, and workspaces in this building have been carefully planned to support a wide range of research and innovation activities, whether you’re a scientist working on a breakthrough discovery, an engineer developing a new technology, or an entrepreneur launching a startup, this Center will provide you with the resources and support that our stakeholders need to succeed.”
UST Facilities Management Office Director Rev. Fr. Dexter Austria, O.P., shared that “The edifice we are inaugurating today is the first among many in the pipeline, hoping that this campus becomes as it is envisioned–a research complex, a visible testament of UST’s indomitable pursuit of making research a cornerstone element, a building block in the field of education.”
The event included a Eucharistic Celebration and Entrustment to the Blessed Virgin Mary led by UST Vice Rector for Religious Affairs Rev. Fr. Pablo T. Tiong, O.P., the ribbon cutting, and the solemn blessing rites.
In September 2022, UST laid down its 15-year road map for the Center. On the same occasion, the Assistant to the Rector for UST Santa Rosa Prof. Philipina Marcelo, Ph.D., presented the three phases of UST Santa Rosa’s long-term operational and sustainability plan. She mentioned that UST Santa Rosa will target health and well-being, food security and safety, environmental sustainability, energy, information and communications, and material sciences as its interdisciplinary research areas.
“The Innovation Center is a tangible manifestation of our shared commitment, common values, and vision. We get an opportunity to nurture the next generation of leaders, thinkers, and entrepreneurs, and in so doing, we will continue to shape the future of our country,” Tan Caktiong said of the partnership with UST.
The UST-TTCIC held its groundbreaking ceremony in December 2020, while the UST Santa Rosa campus had its site development kick-off ceremony in September 2017. The construction is led by Casas+ Architects, Mundo Builders, Design Coordinates, Inc., and the UST Facilities Management Office.