2 Davao-based Startups Graduates UPGRADE ISKO Program

The University of the Philippines Mindanao Growing and Developing Enterprises- Technology Business Incubator held the Virtual Graduation and Launch of two startups, namely, OBX Solutions Technologies and Alcadia Systems, who completed UPGRADE’s 6-month flagship incubation program dubbed as Innovative Startup Knowledge Optimizer Program (ISKO) Program. The virtual event was held via the Zoom platform and broadcasted live on the Facebook Page of UPGRADE. It was attended by the UPGRADE graduates, agency partners, mentors and consultants, UP Mindanao Community, and virtual guests and spectators who witnessed the activity online. 

ISKO Program is an incubation program organized by UPGRADE for entrepreneurs and local talents to help them build, launch, and scale their impact-driven and profitable business ventures. It features a structured curriculum that equips founders in product and market validation, research and development, branding and marketing, strategy and growth, negotiation, incorporation, and launching of the actual business entity. The program also offers mentoring support from academic experts and industry leaders who share their specialized knowledge and experiences running a business to the startup founders.

The ISKO Program is also a synergy initiative of the academe, government agencies, and private sectors to provide a platform to starting entrepreneurs to lessen the risks and avoid common pitfalls of startups. As such, executing the first run of the program presented to be a challenging task for the UPGRADE TBI team and its partners Department of Science and Technology- PCIEERD, Department of Information and Communication Technology- Mindanao Cluster 3, and Department of Trade and Industry Region 11. The UPGRADE team took the challenge and worked behind the scenes in ensuring that the program was a worthwhile experience for the participants and impactful to their startup and entrepreneurial lives. 

Hit by surprise by the pandemic, the program had to restructure and reconfigure its ways and means of achieving the program’s goals. The usual in-person events were shifted to virtual webinars and activities. Exhibits, forums, and networking activities had to be hosted to a then unfamiliar platform but became quarantine’s favorite, Zoom. Despite these challenges, ISKO graduates have shown their commitment, persistence, perseverance, and grit to learn and practically execute their takeaways at their timeline with the available resources that they have.

In his opening remarks, UP Mindanao Chancellor, Dr. Larry N. Digal mentioned that:

The two startup teams hurdled the 6-month incubation program of UPGRADE that aided and prepared them to build and launch their business. Ten startup teams joined the program, but only these two groups of technopreneurs have withstood the program’s test and of time, given that they also battled and coped with the circumstances brought about by the covid 19 pandemic- like the rest of us. This only proves that our graduates are the kind of people who don’t easily give up their dreams and aspirations despite the uncertainty of the future- a true and admirable attitude of good leaders.

To the founders of Alcadia Systems and OBXS IT Solutions, may you bring all the learning that was shared to you by your mentors in UPGRADE and the values of honor and excellence as you go outside this program and become business owners already. May you create impact and become responsible business leaders.

DR. LARRY N. DIGAL, UP Mindanao Chancellor

Gracing the program was Department of Science and Technology XI Regional Director Anthony C. Sales, who gave his message and warm congratulations to the graduates. He encouraged every technopreneur by emphasizing that;

“In the advent of the new normal, massive opportunities are expected to open for the Information, Communications, and Technology sector since it is known as one of the economic growth drivers in Davao City “

DR. ANTHONY C. SALES, DOST Region XI Regional Director

He also stressed the commitment of DOST XI to support programs and projects that aim to promote innovation culture and dynamic entrepreneurial ecosystems such as UPGRADE TBI.

Regional Director Ma. Belenda Q. Ambi of Department of Trade and Industry XI and Regional Director Alimbzar Asum of the Department of Information and Communications Mindanao Cluster 3 also gave their messages to the Founders and UPGRADE team as they received the plaque of recognition awarded to them as agency partners.

Professor Miguel Carlo S. Guillermo (UPGRADE Project Leader) and Ms. Lynda A. Buenaobra (TTBDO Officer-in-charge) did the honor of introducing Alcadia Systems and OBXS Technologies and awarded the Plaque of Accomplishment for both startup teams who finally completed the Incubation program.

The Founders respectively received their plaques and expressed their gratitude towards the UPGRADE team, the mentors, knowledge partners, consultants, and agency partners. They also challenged other startup enthusiasts through their acceptance speeches to make their ideas become a reality. Mr. Adrian Bernardino (Alcadia Systems CEO) and Mr. Arnel Arreglado (OBXS IT Solutions CEO) represented their respective teams during the virtual program.

The UPGRADE Team looks forward to its second cohort of startups to graduate from the ISKO program as well.