DLSU introduces launch pad for commercialization of tech startups


In light of the University’s vision to be the center for innovation, technology and entrepreneurship in the ASEAN region, Animo Labs, the country’s first in-campus incubator, shall be housed on the 12th floor of the Henry Sy, Sr. Hall (HSSH).

Animo Labs celebrated its soft launch on September 20, 2013, as organized by DLSU and Amihan Global Strategies (AGSX), investment group of Winston Damarillo and fellow University alumna Michael Lim, who initiated Animo Labs. Students, alumni, and University board members invited took part in its initial launching which involved several activities such as a lecture series and a university-wide competition on the production of IT startups.

Animo Labs will serve as a physical avenue for University stakeholders to be provided with funding and practical training on technical, business, marketing and fundraising topics. Aspiring Lasallian entrepreneurs shall also receive regular industry mentorship to guide them in the process of building their own start-ups or businesses. Along with this, creators of Animo Labs are planning to set up an internal DLSU cloud to host tools for collaboration and for hosting technology ideas which need computing power and storage.

On the conception of Animo Labs

Winston Damarillo, a graduate of the University’s Industrial and Mechanical Engineering Department and a long time advocate of entrepreneurship and innovation, believes that entrepreneurship can help the country boost inclusive growth, and that more entrepreneurs are needed in the country.

Damarillo expresses in particular that he wants these entrepreneurs to start young. A serial entrepreneur and venture capitalist, he conceptualized the idea of creating a venue to aid entrepreneurship aspirants to help them in starting IT businesses of their own.

While researching successful programs particularly those in the United States, Damarillo noticed that the university ecosystem plays an important role in the creation of world changing start-ups such as Google and Facebook, thus the inception of Animo Labs. The idea behind it is to propel DLSU to become recognized as the first Philippine university in “providing comprehensive in-campus incubation for aspiring entrepreneurs and start-ups.”

In line with this, the first cloud lab in the Philippines, an experimental lab involved in exploring newly-emerging technologies, is targeted to be built in DLSU. Moreover, AGSX has plans of housing a big data infrastructure and analytics in DLSU.

Through Animo Labs, AGSX Corporate Development Associate Pam Belen reiterates Damarillo’s vision that “DLSU will become the center for building and growing aspiring entrepreneurs and helping them get started in creating their own IT business.”

The concept of Animo Labs can be attributed mainly to Damarillo’s research and from his conversations with fellow University alumna Nestor Tan, President of Banco de Oro. DLSU President and Chancellor Br. Ricky Laguda, FSC has asserted his backing for the Animo Labs initiative, allotting space for Animo Labs to be accommodated at the HSSH. He mentions that he wishes to see what the “future classroom” would look like in light of the recent advancements in line with technology and innovation.

Apart from him, other University alumni such as Department of Finance (DOF) Secretary Cesar Purisima, former DOF and Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Jose Pardo, Cisco County Manager Stephen Misa, and HP Country Manager Ryan Guadalquiver have shown support for the project.

“More importantly,” Damarillo adds, “the entire ecosystem of DLSU, including the faculty, students, and other alumni have contributed to the vision of Animo Labs.”

Dr. Alvin Culaba, Executive Director for External Relations and Internationalization, in particular, has been very supportive of the project. He has involved and engaged as many people as he can for the initiative. He also encourages students and faculty alike to make use of Animo Labs.

The Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and Innovation, headed by Vice Chancellor Dr. Raymond Tan, has also been active in spearheading various activities aimed towards the promotion of Animo Labs. Some of the activities currently in the works include Innovation and Tech Week to be led by Dr. Dickie Gonzalez and a start-up pitching competition to be led by Dr. Rafael Cabredo.

Other offices in the University are contributing to the development of Animo Labs, namely the Office for Strategic Communications (STRATCOM), Student Media Office (SMO), University Library, and IT Management Department. The STRATCOM and SMO are in charge of internal marketing and public relations. The University’s Industrial Engineering Department is also involved in updating the design of Animo Labs showcasing “design innovation.”

Pardo, who is also the Chairman of the University’s Board of Trustees, shares, “This is long overdue.”

On the facilities of Animo Labs

Animo Labs focuses on two major things, namely in-campus incubation and the industry path to commercialization. According to Lim, it will allow students “to be innovative and creative, to present their ideas, and to receive mentorship,” enabling them to plan for potential commercialization of these ideas and to generate a real business out of them.

Aside from potential investors visiting Animo Labs for students to receive funding support, regular events like talks, seminars and workshops, will also be held in order “to continually educate and guide students on their entrepreneurial journey.”

Damarillo also envisions Animo Labs to allow the University to forge linkages with private institutions. Through establishing Animo Labs to be the extension of companies’ research and development efforts, Damarillo hopes for the fast acceleration of commercialization of start-ups. He says that this setup is not uncommon “in the Ivy League schools in the US, where companies sponsor or fund the research while the university keeps the intellectual property rights.”

Animo Labs is currently working to establish partnerships with the companies of key University alumni, namely Nestor Tan of Banco de Oro, Stephen Misa of Cisco, Ernest Cu of Globe, and Ryan Guadalquiver of HP.

Damarillo highlights that Animo Labs wishes to employ an interdisciplinary approach in executing its amenities. The first step for Animo Labs is to build committees to handle the flow of ideas from the interested applicants and the investment process itself. Teams will also be formed “to facilitate interaction and encourage collaboration” among students, faculty, and alumni alike, extending across vast areas of studies like business, economics, sciences, engineering, law, medicine, arts and design.

However, the general application process has not been settled. “Given the bandwidth and capacity of the committee, we do need to define certain parameters. We will announce it once we are ready,” they explain.

Althea Gonzales

By Althea Gonzales

Ian Benedict Mia

By Ian Benedict Mia

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