Innovation in Mindanao: UPGrADE Strategic Planning 2022

Innovation in Mindanao: UPGrADE Strategic Planning 2022 Team (L-, Clockwise: Richard Day, Florence Alzate, Val Cimafranca, Tala Bautista, Joji Pantoja, Miguel Carlo Guillermo, Joan Garcia, Candice Lleses, Marj Bulahan, Nikko Laorden, Keren Happuch Lacadin with Jean Aris Narvaez on lap.

“I am brave. I can find a way to live my dreams. I am more than enough.”

Seven years ago, I had to muster all the strength I had left to utter these affirmations. I had my dark days, just like most of us. 

Seven years ago, my business failed. I thought my entire life fell apart and there was no way forward. No one was there to guide me with a recovery plan. I was left with one option– to Google. But that was a path that forced me into a process of trial-and-error.

Fast forward to January 17 to 21, 2022. It was a week-long Strategic Planning for UPGrADE-led and externally funded projects. An experience that immensely inspired me. Here, I met a mix of people from different walks of life. We shared a common goal: to be part of the driving force of innovation in Mindanao and in the country as a whole.

I say this was the meatiest strategic planning I’ve ever attended because Mindanao and countryside development is very close to my heart, not only because I come from the highlands of Bukidnon with few to no opportunities growing up, but as a mother of two, we aim to make the world a better place, one step at a time. 

Prof. Nikko Laorden from the University of the Philippines Mindanao facilitated the workshop. He craftily showed us the relevance of the scientific approach to management and quantitative strategic planning. To me, it personally felt like getting a slice of an MBA in five days. 

The attendees were UP Mindanao’s Technology Transfer and Business Development Office (TTBDO) led by Ms. Lynda Buenaobra, UP Mindanao’s Growing and Developing Enterprises (UPGrADE) led by Prof. Miguel Carlo Guillermo together with the following projects: 

  1. ReSEED: Innovation and Development Accelerators Consortium for Startups in Region XI (IDEAS-REGION XI);
  2. DOST – PCIEERD: Handholding Starting Incubators from HEIs for Readiness towards Innovation and Technopreneurship Preparatory and Skills Acceleration for TBI Managers Optimizing Regional Startup Ecosystem (HIHEIRIT PA MORE!); and
  3. WHWise: Innovation through Building and Leveraging Entrepreneurship Development, Networking and Inclusive Community Engagement (iBLEnDNICE 4WomEn)

Together, we echoed on the same keywords: sustainability, collaboration, innovation. “Grueling” is an understatement. We took a step backward and thoroughly evaluated our stance with these projects. It was a feat to know that we carefully molded the framework for the next 24 months focusing on our common #ParaSaBayan goals.

We do this so no startups will have to go through trial-and-error blindly. This used to be just a wild dream for me – to be part of an organization whose mission is “To become a leading Technology Business Incubator that launches and accelerates impact-driven, sustainable, and globally competitive startups and enterprises.” It will be a battle with internal and external factors, both those we can and cannot control. But I trust that we are stepping into the battlefield fully armed for combat. We can win this fight to upgrade innovation in Mindanao! 💪

For the flag and country. For Mindanao. 

Wrote this to the beat of Sinla Studio