By: Lawrence San Diego
Thinking of an exciting inventive idea is one thing, but turning it into reality is a whole different matter. Ask any inventor and they will agree that their journey to invention and innovation is fraught with different challenges.
Not only do inventors have to make sure their technologies indeed work, but they also have to think of funding, intellectual property, partnerships, and business development to make sure their inventions can reach its fullest potential.
It’s a great thing that in the Philippines, the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), through its Technology Application and Promotion Institute (TAPI), has long been offering a wide array of programs that provide inventors with holistic support in invention development, including technical, financial, and legal assistance.
Up-and-coming local inventors can’t help but feel amazed and grateful with their experience availing of DOST-TAPI’s programs. Through their firsthand stories, they hope to spread the word about the many opportunities available to their fellow Filipino innovators.
Inventor of BasCart
I nicknamed my invention BasCart, which means basket in a cart. It is a three-layer utility trolley with baskets that can be used to carry hydroponics plants for shopping and transport without affecting the quality of hydroponics vegetables and herbs.
Fitted inside the baskets are various sizes of buckets that can hold the nutrient solution and where the hydroponics plants will be placed. The baskets can slide to the sides to extend their width, allowing wider space for tall plants to stand steadily.
We know that many people are already doing hydroponics gardening, but we haven’t seen these hydroponics vegetables and herbs being sold in their natural state in supermarkets and grocery stores. It defeats the purpose of bringing home these hydroponics plants and allowing them to maintain their freshness.
BasCart offers a new method of buying fresh vegetables and herbs. It is envisioned to be introduced to the market in which hydroponics plants can be bought still attached to their roots in cups inside buckets. In this method, the freshness of vegetables and herbs will definitely be extended.
BasCart not only offers great convenience for customers, but it also encourages people to shop more, helping increase sales of grocery stores, supermarkets, and other retail outlets.
In 2018, I learned about DOST-TAPI during their call for proposals for the Technology Innovation for Commercialization (TECHNICOM) program. I simply emailed my project proposal, and a few days later, I received successive phone calls and emails from TAPI for the assessment of my proposal. Since then, I follow and read their publications and attend their events to keep abreast of their programs.
After my project under TECHNICOM was completed, I applied for TAPI’s Concept Prototyping Program for another invention, which was approved in 2022. After its completion, I was encouraged to avail of their Intellectual Property Rights Assistance Program (IPRAP) to secure intellectual property protection for my invention. I then applied for the Grants and Assistance to Leverage Innovations for National Growth or GALING program to help further develop the BasCart and improve its viability and marketability.
Working with TAPI is extremely awesome! They always exhibit their usual attributes of being ACCESSIBLE: Accommodating, Cooperative, Considerate, Effective, Systematic, Supportive, Impartial, Broadminded, Logical, and Encouraging. They are one of the easiest to talk to among government agencies in the Philippines. They never say no, but they would say how.
TAPI taught me how to work on and improve my proposals pursuant to DOST-GIA guidelines. They have always been accommodating to every query I asked, from proposal to commencement and up to completion of the whole project. The encouragement of TAPI, the inspiring stories of inventors, and our collaboration with the Filipino Inventors Society-Cordillera Administrative Region or FISCAR convinced me to continue with my projects and create more inventions.
I understand the feeling of many inventors, especially those who have ideas to innovate and invent something but are hesitant or do not even know how to begin. Creating a new invention is costly. There are also the challenges in investigating prior inventions, committing time and resources to build the idea, thinking how it can be accepted by and benefit society, and finding business partners who can help implement the idea. These are the greatest hurdles inventors are usually confronted with, and finding a way to overcome all of them is mind boggling.
It's a good thing that TAPI is always accessible through different means and platforms. They are the first ones who partnered with us in advocating a culture of innovation and promoting useful technologies. TAPI does not only give support but they continually provide services to make the work of inventors easier and more organized. We should take advantage of the programs they generously offer and grab the opportunities our government makes available through agencies like TAPI.
Inventor of VORTEx
VORTEx is a vertical wind turbine that generates electricity from the power of wind. This allows us to generate free electricity using the energy from Mother Nature.
VORTEx can be installed anywhere in the Philippines, especially in windy areas. The technology can power lights, smartphones, or any electrical devices. It can be installed in
houses, beside the beach, along the road, in the middle of the sea, or even high up in the mountains. It can provide electricity to communities to improve their livelihood. It can be used to charge lights on fishing boats, power water pumps for irrigation and water supply, provide light to students when studying, or even light up roads at night.
We were endorsed by DOST Advanced Manufacturing Center to TAPI when we were looking for opportunities to raise funds to develop and scale up our product. During our mentorship program with the Philippine Development Foundation, we were encouraged to attend a TAPI writeshop. That is where we pitched VORTEx, and the rest was history.
We applied for the concept prototyping program because we wanted to scale up VORTEx and make it more useful to more people. We were convinced to join the program because we know that programs offered by TAPI have different stages—starting from concept up to commercialization—and we wanted that traction in the development of our product, which is practical in the deep tech category.
Working with TAPI made us feel optimistic in realizing our dreams, that we can be fully assisted as innovators dedicated to the growth of the country. All the people at TAPI are very helpful and commendable for their work in supporting technologies.
Inventor of Foldable Tank and Zeramic Filter
Our invention is the first-ever locally manufactured foldable and modular water collection with conveyance and three-way Zeramic filtration system that can be used for storage of rainwater harvested from rooftops of any establishment. This solves the problem of water scarcity in remote areas.
Why is foldability and modularity important? With our foldable tanks, there is more storage space for water that can be delivered to communities as compared to alternative water storage systems.
Although our system is more expensive to acquire than existing alternatives, in certain scenarios where space is a premium and logistics is expensive, our water storage and filtration in a box is a superior complete value solution.
Our technology is also ideal for disaster and relief operations. It can provide safe, clean water to the farthest, most inaccessible regions of our country. Places where students have to bring their own water to school. Areas where tapping into natural sources of water is prohibitively expensive.
Locations where residents are forced to drink non-potable water due to its scarcity and endure health risks associated with the distance and inaccessibility of hospital facilities.
I heard about DOST-TAPI through Facebook and learned that they extend assistance on intellectual property protection to researchers. My initial goal was to apply for IP protection for my research as a utility model. As I attended meetings with TAPI, I got all the answers to my queries. We initially asked for IPRAP assistance, followed by a concept prototyping grant. Lastly, we are waiting for evaluation under the GALING program.
TAPI has been very accommodating and they provide direct assistance in submitting our proposals. The process was smooth because guidance is always given by TAPI staff. Industries, such as LITHOS Manufacturing, will greatly benefit from the programs and grants offered by TAPI.
Inventors and researchers can approach TAPI for assistance on IP protection and commercialization. TAPI has provided a more approachable way of communicating with their clients and stakeholders. Upon submission of complete documents, approval time is very fast as well. The assistance provided by TAPI is almost equivalent—and at most times superior—to loans applied for by entrepreneurs and MSMEs in starting out their businesses.
Also, with TAPI’s approach, a new product can be marketed as well with much credibility. TAPI promotes the ingenuity of each product output of each inventor-client they have.
Patrick Roland De Guzman
Inventor of Marissa Turbine
The Marissa Turbine is a tidal turbine. Basically, it is a wind turbine but for oceans. It is made of more affordable and more sustainable components as compared to other small- scale turbines deployed abroad.
The Marissa Turbine can benefit off-grid communities like those in Mindoro, who are heavily reliant on diesel-based electricity generation. They are near limitless amounts of flowing water that could be harnessed by the Marissa Turbine to become a source of clean and affordable electricity for these communities.
New Energy Nexus Philippines connected me to DOST- TAPI. I applied for their concept prototyping program. A grant will give you way more financing to help you realize your invention concept, while also protecting your control over the direction of your invention, which you cannot exercise when you choose an equity investment to fund your invention development.
My experience partnering with DOST-TAPI was seamless. They monitored and assisted me throughout the whole concept prototyping program. They were really helpful in giving their professional opinion on how to make the project output better than what was initially planned.
Inventor of Three-Phase to Single-Phase Back-to-Back Voltage Source Power Converter Prototype for Squirrel Cage Induction Machine Drive and Grid Integration
My invention is a prototype for a back-to-back converter that integrates a squirrel cage induction machine to the single-phase grid and enables it to be operated as a motor or a generator bidirectionally.
The converter will help in the integration of renewable energy systems, such as run-off river hydro or small wind turbines with dynamic control enabled, synchronized to the grid. It will enable integration of these different sources that can rotate the squirrel cage induction machine, which in this case will be integrating into a single-phase grid that is enabled to deliver the power directly as simple as possible, similar to a solar photovoltaic inverter.
The converter technology can also be used in storage systems such as Pumped Hydro, compressed air, gravity storage, transportation such as electric vehicles and electric chargers, and grid support such as a Static Synchronous Compensator (STATCOM).
I heard about DOST-TAPI when our early-stage startup mHycro was under the acceleration program of New Energy Nexus Philippines last 2022. I reached out through one of their application calls, and it was also just the right time since I was also preparing the documentation.
I applied for the concept prototyping program since the technology does not yet have an intellectual property right pending or granted. I read about TAPI’s assistance and I saw it supports startups at different stages, making it ideal to be a part of our journey.
The support I received from TAPI, from preparation and during actual application, was very helpful. A mentor was assigned to check my proposal papers and they were very helpful in improving the proposal itself.
Do you have an invention that you want to take the next level? DOST-TAPI can help you and your technology reach the fullest potential.
Visit tapi.dost.gov.ph today to learn more about our programs for inventors.