FOB Secretariats Tackle Technology Readiness for Commercialization

The Department of Science and Technology-National Capital Region (DOST-NCR) held the webinar “From Ideation to Commercialization” on October 29, 2021, to level up the capabilities of technical personnel in assessing whether technologies developed by research and development institutes (RDIs) are ready to be commercialized for the market.

This activity is a part of DOST’s continuing initiatives to strengthen the capabilities of the Fairness and Opinion Board (FOB) Secretariat to enable them to prepare the Fairness Opinion Reports (FOR) more effectively.

In his Welcome Message, DOST-NCR Regional Director Jose Patalinjug III reiterated the importance of ‘readiness’ as it relates to adoption and technology commercialization. He mentioned that this is significant in gauging the development, prospective market value, and more importantly, how these technologies are to be adopted by the intended users.

DOST Regional Operations Undersecretary Sancho Mabborang also highlighted the critical role of the FOB Secretariat. He cited the accomplishments of the FOB Secretariat to date, including (1) being instrumental for the policy reviews of RDIs, State Universities and Colleges, and Higher Education Institutions in relation to technology transfer and Intellectual Property protection, (2) creating working databases of technologies and potential FOB experts in the regions, (3) establishing collaborations and linkages, (4) identifying gaps that needed to be addressed to improve the process in the respective dealings of the Regional Offices, and (5) fostering a better appreciation of the RO’s roles as FOB Secretariat and their place in the whole process, specifically in technology transfer and commercialization.

In addition, Undersecretary Mabborang said, “As we move towards a new direction, we also have to be prepared in terms of manpower, we need to build our capabilities and acquire the needed competencies.”

The webinar is aimed at enhancing the participants knowledge on the assessment, transfer, and commercialization of technologies. Ms. Russell Pili, Resource Speaker from DOST’s Philippine Council for Industry, Energy and Emerging Technology Research and Development (PCIEERD) discussed three key subjects: Technology Readiness Level (TRL), Investment Readiness Level (IRL), and A Stage/Gate Approach for Commercializing Technologies.

Ms. Pili shared that the TRL was a method developed by NASA in the 1970s as a consistent and uniform assessment tool to ascertain maturity across different types of technologies. TRL also examines program concepts, technology requirements, and demonstrated technology capabilities. Ms. Pili also discussed the advantages and disadvantages of the TRL, as well as the checklist for technology readiness.

If the TRL serves as a common reference point for determining if a technology is ready to be marketed, then the Investment Readiness Level provides a common language and metrics for investors, corporate innovation groups, and entrepreneurs. Likewise, the IRL is composed of a ladderized checklist.

Further, the process from idea/innovation conceptualization to bringing the technology to the market or commercialization, and the programs and services of DOST agencies per each stage were discussed. Tips for successful commercialization were likewise shared.

In her closing remarks, DOST-NCR’s Assistant Regional Director for Technical Support Services, Engr. Romelen Tresvalles highlighted the role of the Regional FOB Secretariats where she mentioned “As FOB Secretariats, it is also our role in the Regional Offices to aid and lead in technology transfer activities”. In addition, “As we expand our roles as technology transfer enablers, we see the capability building needs needed on our end and by our partners.”

Further, ARD Tresvalles emphasized “It is our role as technology transfer enablers to look into the other aspect of the technology transfer as far as investment readiness, market readiness, acceptability and how do we help our technology generators to improve the competitiveness of the product.”

A total of 60 participants, comprised of FOB Secretariats and technical staff from the 16 DOST Regional Offices and Provincial Science and Technology Centers (PSTCs) joined the activity.

The DOST Regional Offices started to serve as FOB Secretariats in 2019. As the lead Regional Office for this endeavor, the DOST-NCR will organize more capability building activities for the DOST Regional Office staff to enhance competence and efficiency in facilitating issuance of FORs for technology transfer.

By: Aurora P. Marcelo and Rodolfo P. Geronimo, Jr.

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