Category: Engagement Across Disciplines
Location: Makati, Philippines
Accreditation Status: Accredited
Leaders in Innovation Fellowship (LIF)
Through a public-private partnership, the LIF Program aims to foster the mindset and entrepreneurial capacity of scientists and engineers across the Philippines to help commercialize local innovations, resulting in new investor-ready startup organizations.
Call to Action
While the Philippines is the fastest-growing economy in Southeast Asia, very little of that growth is inclusive. Recent figures show that eradicating unemployment and underemployment will require 109 innovative startups that can scale to create 32,700 jobs. The Philippine ecosystem is similar to its geography: it has islands of success in scientific research and business management skills, albeit disconnected.
Inclusive growth can only be fostered if all the players in the innovation ecosystem are aligned toward a common purpose. Research and development (R&D) from Filipino Science and Technology universities is a quick, low-cost source of new innovations for Filipino corporations, which will nurture the future of technology-based startups and enable the Philippines to better compete on a global scale.
The Leaders in Innovation Fellowship (LIF) program was formed under the auspices of a partnership between the Newton Agham Fund of the U,K, government, the U.K.’s Royal Academy of Engineering (RAEng), the Philippine Department of Science and Technology (DOST), and the Asian Institute of Management (AIM). It aims to build the entrepreneurship capacity of researchers to help them commercialize innovations that address development challenges, and it creates a lasting international network of innovators, expert mentors, and technology entrepreneurs.
This public-private partnership will produce investment-ready technologies with strong commercialization potential, driving inclusive growth and fostering the transition of the Philippines into a knowledge-based and technology-driven economy.
AIM’s role is to develop and train a small cohort of 15 academic innovators.
The LIF program is a postgraduate certificate that was initiated in 2014. Scientists and engineers throughout the Philippines are selected for technological and entrepreneurial capability, as well as their innovation’s technological and investor readiness. The selection metrics were jointly developed by DOST, RAEng, and AIM. In order for the entire innovation ecosystem to succeed, the cohort also includes technology transfer officers from national government or research universities so that the capabilities of both are developed in parallel and aligned when pursuing commercialization. Each year a cohort of 10 researchers and five technology managers is selected.
After selection, AIM runs a three-day “launching” boot camp to prepare the fellows for a 10-day residential program at the U.K.’s RAEng. Upon returning to the Philippines, they begin a rigorous “landing” course that expands on their learnings in the U.K. and enables them to commercialize their innovations in the Philippine context.
AIM developed this six-month course as a practitioner-oriented program that combines a three-day learning phase interspersed with a three-week action phase. Structured as a systematic approach to innovation—market identification, product development, and business alignment—this complements case discussion and simulations with mentoring from AIM’s faculty and its extensive alumni network.
The LIF program culminates with a Demo Day that not only showcases the fellows’ business plans but also their transformation from pure academics into full-fledged technology entrepreneurs.
Envisioned to be a five-year commitment, LIF’s success has led to the extension of the partnership until 2021. AIM has received support for the third year with a more than 100 percent increase in grant money for further improvement (e.g., curriculum improvement, creation of more local/regional business cases, larger mentorship network, and post-program networking/activities).
LIF alumni have now founded startup companies, are beginning pilot scale production of their products, have prospective third-party investors and technology licensors, and are improving their respective government agency procedures for more efficient technology transfers.
- Telehealth device RxBox™, field-tested in 143 municipalities, is currently servicing 1,000 more throughout the country
- Vigormin™, an eco-friendly septic tank system, was used for rehabilitation projects in Leyte and Boracay, now with an angel investor and constructing a pilot manufacturing plant
- Investors are interested in a guava-based wound-healing cream, tilapia sex-change using pine pollen to increase fish production, and a multi-sensor tracking system to prevent vehicle theft
- Ginhawa™ Ventilator and Smart Surface innovations are now startups
- Two inventions are in license deal negotiations
For the latest cohort, the program expects to build on these successes and create a higher success rate of LIF alumni with investment-ready technologies and entrepreneurial potential. Their companies can spur the country’s knowledge growth.