• Rizal Raoul Reyes

BCYF inspires PHL innovation through honoring trailblazers

INNOVATION is one of the current buzzwords in today’s modern world. There are the Ubers and the Grabs that cause major disruptions in the transport industry. They have shown that an entrepreneur does not need to have a fleet of taxis or physical vehicles to enter the transport industry.

Meanwhile, in the theater scene, the highly successful and much-acclaimed musical Hamilton has made history by introducing rap music and hip-hop beat on Alexander Hamilton, an American statesman and one of the founders of the American financial system. Lin-Manuel Martinez introduced a drastic innovation by casting actors with Latino and African-American roots in lead roles. Hamilton won 11 awards in the recent Tony Awards.

Innovation appetite

THE Philippines is not far behind, with Silicon Valley-based technopreneur Diosdado Banatao proving that Filipinos have what it takes to become a premier innovator.

The Cagayan Valley-born engineer is credited for developing the single-chip graphical user interface accelerator that enabled computers to have stronger processing power. Banatao’s invention enabled users to utilize graphics for commands and veer away from the usual typed commands in older computers.

Then we have Antonio Yap who, unlike Banatao, opted to stay within the country’s borders.

Yap could be described as an individual with a voracious appetite for innovation. The chairman of the Benita and Catalino Yap Foundation (BCYF) emphasized that innovation is the key to achieve significant change in the Philippines.

Yap placed his money where his mouth is. To promote innovation in the country, he established the BYCF Innovation Awards (BIA). The BIA is searching for Filipinos who Yap hopes would inspire innovators in agri-business, government services and small and medium business.

“As far as the award is concerned, we are focusing on government services, education, small-medium enterprise and agri-business,” Yap told the BusinessMirror. “What we are trying to recognize are all ‘successful attempts’ in the last five years who have attempted to do things a little better.”

Old order

YAP said the people that BCYF has awarded in the past have shown innovation and viability.

The group’s partners also reflect such gravitas: the University of Asia and the Pacific (UAP), the Department of Science and Technology, the Department of Trade and Industry and the Junior Chamber International (JCI), among others. Local governments of Taguig City and Davao have also lent support to the BIA.

Above all, Yap said, the people behind these institutions believe that pushing innovation is significant.

“We all want to show Filipinos that innovation can be pursued in any field of endeavor, whether in business, education or politics,” he told the BusinessMirror, one of the media partners of the BIA.

“These innovators will always seek and yearn for change to uplift and improve the conditions of society.”

Just like change, innovation is a continuous process and perhaps permanent, Yap said.

“Furthermore, the people are always in constant search for change, because people want to improve the old order, whether in a micro or macro scale,” he said. “The search for something better on a continuous basis is what defines individuals and organizations.”

Simple hope

YAP said the BCYF and its partners want to impart to the Filipinos that they must continue to be optimistic and never lose hope, “because these are important parts of change.”

In undergoing innovation, Yap said people must learn along the way from their mistakes, “because committing the same mistakes will be a waste of effort to achieve change.”

The BCYF also wants to spread the gospel of innovation not only to boost inclusive growth but to motivate Juan de la Cruz that he can also be an agent of change.

“My hope is very simple,” Yap said. “The average person, whether they are leaders or followers, believes each one can make a difference.”For Yap, innovation does not need to be done in a science laboratory, university campus, factory or the corporate boardroom.

“[Innovation] can be extended to the family, society’s basic unit, as its members can exchange views on what’s best for them,” he explained. “You can also talk to people who you don’t like. When you begin to talk like that, then there is true hope.”

Dreams, pragmatism

ALTHOUGH dreaming is good for change, Yap points out pragmatism should be included in the equation.

“You have to consider the basic things. My family needs to eat, I need to get promoted to advance on the social ladder,” he explained. “You also need to buy an automobile to give you greater mobility, or a plane ticket either for travel or vacation.” Nevertheless, Yap stressed execution is going to be a key to the success of the objective.

“When you start executing and start to learn, then you would realize that, like most things in life, you must temper things with reality without giving up on strong ambition for a better future.”

Yap does not agree that innovation must be applied to repair the country’s so-called damaged culture. The perception that the Philippines has a damaged culture originates from the beliefs of people in their sociopolitical and economic life.

“I think it is about people and societies experiencing change when they choose bad leaders and [there is a] breakdown in the social fabric,” he explained. “These challenges, however, present opportunities to people, such as going out or staying in the country. If they opted to stay, they must obey the laws of the country, such as the tax laws, business laws and criminal laws.”

Failures, mistakes

YAP said an innovator pursuing change should be prepared to fail, because innovation is born from many mistakes, and even the best inventions are not exempted from blunders.

Since people have committed these mistakes, they can have a better perspective and in a better position to tell and teach young people the value of patience. “Innovation can come from the heart, family and institutions, as well as products and services.”

Yap said innovation is a challenge and originates from many mistakes.

Innovators must be like soldiers going to war, he said.

“They should be organized and flexible to be prepared for any given situation,” Yap said. “Those of us who pause and look at the situation are in a better position; we’re more patient to see it.”

Moreover, he reminded that people who are better organized, open for change and criticism and open to ideas will do great in innovation whether they do it in giant steps, baby steps or, sometimes, by crawling.

Yap said he expects the BIA to be a vehicle for the Filipinos to continue to show concern for the country and society that is not solely anchored on economics but with empathy and compassion.

“We must show there are people supporting innovation. The process of interactivity distinguishes innovation with good ideas, good thoughts and good aspiration.”

Again, he emphasized that innovation will play a big role in bringing the country to the promised land.

“The dream of a better Philippines would be great,” Yap said. “Without innovation, people would be doing the same mistakes repeatedly.”

BIA finalists

AFTER extending the deadline for five days, the BCYF received a total of 104 nominations for the BIA.

Seven were nominated for the agri-business category, 60 for government services, 25 for the small and medium enterprise category and 12 nominations for the technical-vocational category.

Of the total nominations, only 32 submitted documentation of their respective innovation. The total nominees were further short-listed to 11 on February 7.

One of these is OneLab, or the One Stop Laboratory Services for Global Competitiveness, which integrates all laboratories under the DOST.

Lab integration

DOST Undersecretary for Regional Operations Brenda Nazareth-Manzano said the integration of the DOST laboratories is a step in the right direction to make it easier for clients to get quick access to services they need.

“It would be a horrible experience for clients if they cannot find the service they are looking for in our site,” Nazareth-Manzano said. “Our integration is the best move for DOST.”

Since the laboratories are all in the network, she said DOST can refer a client to a unit that can serve their need.

“Now we can tell our client you can leave your sample here and we can refer to the proper laboratory and pick up the result later.”

The payment system of OneLab is done through banks. Moreover, the DOST is working on its online payment facilities to make transaction easier for clients.

Manzano said each laboratory has developed a unified laboratory information system which manages the transactions of the laboratories within the system.

For the DOST system alone, there are 21 laboratories, which include the regional units and research and development institutes. An interesting element of the site is that the DOST opened it for non-DOST entities both from the government and the private sector.

“We do realize there are other tests that the private sector is already capable of doing, and non-DOST employees who specialize in competence in testing,” she pointed out.

Service delivery

LAUNCHED in August 2014, OneLab is an innovation in service delivery that virtually integrates 21 regional and research institute laboratories of DOST, as well as seven other non-DOST laboratories all over the country into a network. The aim is to provide easy-access and wide-ranging service offerings to the manufacturing industries and the general public at a single touch point.

Moreover, the network members are internationally recognized and accredited to ISO 17025:2005 “General Requirements for the Competence of Testing and Calibration Laboratories.”

With a P256-million funding from the DOST, the OneLab Team crafted the project framework and proceeded with its implementation. There are two major innovative IT solutions that were implemented: the Unified Laboratory Information Management System (ULIMS) and the Referral System.

Manzano noted the ULIMS rationalized the transaction management of the 21 DOST laboratories in the network—from sample receiving, transaction traceability and data and report generation. Since all laboratory transactions are automatically logged in a database, the voluminous information can be utilized by the DOST to craft programs for rationalizing support for upgrading of testing laboratories and in the harmonization of systems, procedures and test fees.

Last year, a total of 101,225 samples and 144,329 tests and calibration transactions were recorded. The use of ULIMS boosted the speed of transaction in the laboratory by 66 percent on the average, compared to the manual system prior to the implementation of the project, from 15 minutes per transaction to 5 minutes.

Seamless handling

THE system allows for seamless handling of samples from receiving, referral, transport and analysis to the prompt delivery of calibration and testing reports, no matter where the customers are in the country. This results into a seamless experience for customers because they don’t need to shuttle from one laboratory to another to have access to all their testing and calibration needs.

Having international-accredited ratings, Manzano said customers are assured of getting accurate and complete instructions regarding their testing requirements, as well as online access to track the status of their test requests through the customer portal. The portal is available on three platforms (Web, Android and iOS), and can be accessed through the domain onelab.ph.

Since the referral system went online in October 2015, Manzano said it has facilitated 153 referrals of 434 samples across the country requiring 575 tests and calibration.

The DOST OneLab Team ensured sustainability of the project by institutionalizing the system in the DOST organization through Administrative Order 007 Series of 2015 issued by then Secretary Mario G. Montejo.

OneLab and the other finalists would be honored in a BIA ceremony on February 20.




Rizal Raoul Reyes

Rizal Raoul S. Reyes has covered technology, science, business, property and special reports. He had working stints with the Business Star, Manila Bulletin and Independent Daily News.

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