Key officials of government agencies, educational institutions and business groups in Central Luzon recently led the launch of the Regional Inclusive Innovation Center (RIIC) dubbed the Technological Hive of Regional Innovation for a Vibrant Ecosystem or THRIVE Central Luzon.

The event, held online on 12 March 2021, was capped by the virtual signing of a Memorandum of Agreement for the establishment and maintenance of a RIIC by the lead agencies, the Department of Trade and Industry Regional Office 3 (DTI-Region3), the Department of Science and Technology Regional Office 3 (DOST-Region 3) and the Commission on Higher Education Region 3 (CHED-Region 3) together with Bulacan State University (BULSU), Angeles University Foundation (AUF), Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) North Luzon, Bulacan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). 

In her message, OIC Regional Director (RD) Leonila T. Baluyut emphasized the importance of the existing alliances of the agencies and organizations involved in the regional innovation center that has been active for many years. She also noted the need to synergize and harmonize the resources of the lead agencies, industry partners, and academe to help MSMEs. She also conveyed that DTI has been supporting the innovation of micro small and medium enterprises through different programs such as its Shared Service Facilities (SSF) program, the establishment of Fabrication Laboratories in academic institutions, One Town One Product NextGen program, and conduct of online training sessions and virtual trade fairs. 

The USAID, represented by Deputy Director Jona Lai, reiterated its support to innovation initiatives in the Philippines, especially those which would help MSMEs and foster inclusive growth. She also noted that science and technology, and innovation play a key role in the recovery and growth of MSMEs, especially in this time of the pandemic.

The USAID had previously supported the establishment of four pilot areas for the RIIC, namely, Region 5, Region 7, Region 10, and Region 11.

Meanwhile, Dr. Erwin Magsakay, Vice President of the Bulacan State University, cited the current trend of economic growth in Central Luzon and presented plans for the establishment of Business Innovation Units and Regional Enterprise Centers to support the RIIC. Gregoria Simbulan, Vice President of PCCI North Luzon noted that the business sector, especially the MSMEs, need the collaboration of different sectors on innovation to help build resiliency and put them back on the path of recovery and growth. 

Dr. Julius Cesar Sicat, Regional Director of DOST-Region 3 emphasized that as MSMEs serve as the majority of all business establishments, innovation should help them tide the pandemic.  He further asserted that it is imperative for agencies to join hands with the academe in creating a common platform and a harmonized innovation program delivered to MSMEs for the economy to be back to its proverbial feet. He further stated that – COVID-19 or no COVID-19, all sectors will align efforts to help in business recovery for small businesses, and that there is no way for the regional economy but up.  

The virtual MOA for the THRIVE Central Luzon was signed and witnessed by DOST-Region 3 RD Julius Cesar Sicat, CHED-Region 3 RD Maria Teresita Semana, DTI-Region 3 OIC RD Leonila T. Baluyut, Jona Lai of USAID, Gregoria Simbulan of PCCI, Atty. Joseph Angeles and Dr. Reynaldo Bundalian, President and Vice-president of Angeles University Foundation, Dr. Cecilia Navasero-Gascon, BULSU University President, Dr. Erwin Magsakay, BULSU Vice President, and Victor Mendoza, President of the BCCI. ♦

Date of Release: 22 March 2021