The Department of Science and Technology (DOST-6) on Tuesday, Nov. 2, launched an expanded package of assistance seeking to commercialize and digitalize micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) to improve their operations, boost their productivity, and competitiveness.
Called Small Enterprise Technology Upgrading Program (SETUP) 4.0, it is a flagship program of DOST that offers a package of assistance namely consultancy, training, packaging, laboratory analysis, and innovation-enabling fund or iFund.
Its latest version was launched as part of the activities for the virtual opening of the National Science and Technology Week (NSTW) celebration in Western Visayas.
DOST Western Visayas regional director Engr. Rowen R. Gelonga, in his virtual message, said under the 4.0 version, they will continue with the original mandate of the program simply called SETUP and launched in 2003, which is a nationwide strategy aimed at encouraging and assisting SMEs to adopt technology innovations.
However, one unique feature of SETUP 4.0 is that aside from assisting directly to individual firms, DOST will also extend support on the level of the industry.
“We are funding technology business incubators (TBIs), we are linking our individual enterprises to a lot of specialized centers being operated by the DOST,” he said.
Under 4.0, MSMEs can use the iFund to upgrade their information and communication technology (ICT) system.
“Across all kinds of MSMEs we would like to provide digitalization support, whether developing or established. We are really trying to come up with a package of assistance that will allow you to eventually migrate to digitalize operations,” he said.
He said that companies will be assessed and if they are already considered as an innovating company, then the approach is for them to pursue the commercialization of higher-level technologies.
“DOST services were hardly affected during the pandemic because our training, consultancy and technical services being done already using both physical and digital platforms,” DOST Secretary Fortunato T. de la Peña said in his keynote message.
He also praised MSMEs, which continue to operate and repurpose their production to help in the fight against the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).
In addition to the launching of SETUP 4.0, DOST also awarded its best program implementers in Western Visayas.
The Herbanext Laboratories Inc. based in Bago City, Negros Occidental was awarded the Regional SETUP Praise Award while the municipality of Sibalom in Antique was named as Regional Best Community Empowerment thru Science and Technology (CEST) community.
The SETUP Praise Award was given to recognize the productivity, resilience, agility, innovation, sustainability and excellence exhibited by our MSMEs, said Gelonga.
The Herbanext produces science-based herbal products.
Meantime, the municipality of Sibalom has “remarkably developed into resilient and empowered communities after science and technology interventions”, Gelonga said.
With the University of Antique Sibalom campus as the lead implementing agency of the program, among the interventions that were provided to the municipality were livelihood program linking up with the Sibalom Techno Hub inside the campus, Starbooks that allowed learners to access learning materials without internet connection, training on disaster preparedness and provision of the Barangay Infosystem for Development and Accountability (BIDA) for good governance.PNA