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By: Krizzia Mei C. Esperanza

On October 19, 2021, the Department of Science and Technology - CALABARZON (DOST-CALABARZON) participated in the virtual launch of the CALABARZON Regional Inclusive Innovation Center (RIIC): Linking Innovation Networks for Competitiveness (LINC CALABARZON). During the ceremony, DOST-CALABARZON Regional Director Emelita P. Bagsit presented to the Batangas State University, LINC CALABARZON lead implementer, a check amounting to 1.4 million pesos, granted under the DOST Grants-in-Aid Program, to fund the project: “Strengthening Operation of [RIIC] in CALABARZON”.

RD Bagsit presents a check to BatStateU for the RIIC project in CALABARZON, October 19, 2021.

Engr. Albertson D. Amante, Vice President for Research, Development and Extension of the BatStateU, introduced LINC CALABARZON as one of the four expansion sites of the RIIC. The three other sites are in Regions II, III, and IX, while the pilot sites are in Cagayan de Oro, Cebu, Davao and Legazpi. "The RIIC catalyzes stronger linkages between and among the stakeholders in the innovation ecosystem," which includes LGUs, MSMEs, technology business incubators (TBIs), laboratories, among others. 

Engr. Amante also introduced the four subprograms of the LINC CALABARZON, namely: (1) Batangas Actions towards Revitalization and Acceleration of Kapeng Barako Industry (BARAKO); (2) Business Acceleration in the Region through Ideation, Innovation and Collaboration (BARIIC); (3) RIIC Virtual Collaboration; and (4) Inclusive Innovation Ecosystem Mapping. Detailed information on LINC CALABARZON and its subprograms is accessible at https://linccalabarzon.com.

Engr. Amante introduces the LINC CALABARZON Innovation Program and the institutions collaborating on the project, October 19, 2021.

Other key players in the establishment of RIIC and LINC CALABARZON attended the event, and expressed their respective messages of support. The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), one of the lead government agencies of the RIIC alongside the DOST and the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA), was represented by Secretary Ramon M. Lopez, Undersecretary for Competitiveness and Innovation Dr. Rafelita M. Aldaba, Undersecretary for Regional Operations Blesila A. Lantayona, and CALABARZON Regional Director Marilou. Q. Toledo. On the other hand, Undersecretary for Regional Operations Engr. Sancho A. Mabborang, Undersecretary for Research and Development Dr. Rowena Cristina L. Guevara, and RD Bagsit represented the DOST. With Engr. Amante was Atty. Luzviminda Rosales, Vice President for Administration and Finance, to represent the BatStateU. 

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID), supporting partner of the project under its Science, Technology, Research and Innovation for Development (STRIDE) Program, was also in attendance. USAID Office of Education Director Dr. Thomas LeBlanc, in his message of support, recognized the partnership's feat to establish eight RIICs in the Philippines amidst the pandemic. "The US government, through the USAID, is honored to support the amazing success of the Philippines in your innovation journey," he added.

"Let us continue to work hand-in-hand towards making science work for the people of CALABARZON," RD Bagsit said. The virtual ceremony also featured the DOST-GIA Memorandum of Agreement, signed by RD Bagsit and DOST-CALABARZON OIC-Assistant Regional Director Engr. Francisco R. Barquilla III, BaStateU President Dr. Tirso A. Ronquillo, and Engr. Amante. A ceremonial toasting was also facilitated. 

As a way forward for the LINC CALABARZON, Dr. Aldaba challenged the collaborators to build the "first physical open-space RIIC."