DTI 7: 4 universities get FabLabs, DigiFabs soon

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FOUR new fabrication and digital laboratories will be launched in the region in the first quarter this year.

Ma. Elena Arbon, assistant regional director of Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) 7, said the agency will remain active in turning Cebu into a magnet for startups this year by implementing programs that go beyond training.

“We are connecting with people and institutions to help us push innovation in this space,” she said.

Fabrication and digital laboratories are instrumental in honing the skills of startups.

A FabLab is a technical prototyping platform for innovation and invention that allows local manufacturers to make prototypes and products such as equipment, machinery and electronic gadgets; create scale models, illustrate graphic designs and mass-produce products.

A DigiFab, on the other hand, is a facility that allows access to digital fabrication tools, and helps a community develop its skills and talent based on 21st century skills.

The new four fabrication and digital laboratories will be opened in the Cebu Technological University Danao Campus and Argao Campus, Negros Oriental State University, and Siquijor State College.

By end of the first quarter this year, Arbon said the region will have eight fabrication and digital laboratories.

Moreover, DTI 7 is eyeing to collaborate with the Semiconductor and Electronics Industries in the Philippines Foundation Inc. (Seipi), which is the largest organization of foreign and local semiconductor and electronics companies in the Philippines.

“We are exploring how they can support FabLabs through sharing of technical knowledge so faculty and the community can be updated,” said Arbon.

DTI 7 has forged partnerships with institutions like the Department of Science and Technology, Department of Information and Communications Technology, Commission on Higher Education and other various academic institutions, the local community. It has also partnered with a co-working space firm, The Company.

Last December, the agency mounted a startup ecosystem mapping for Cebu and Bohol. Ideas like startup innovation week, code camp, regular technology talks and pitching meetups were among the suggestions that came out during the mapping sessions.

“There were plenty of ideas that came out during the mapping. In fact, I have a scheduled meetup with the team to discuss the way forward,” said Arbon.

Last year, the agency launched the Startup Island Mentoring Program that is designed to help local startups gain entrepreneurial skills, strengthen their business models and scale up. The program was piloted in Cebu.

They are also eyeing another run of the mentoring program this year. KOC