IMPROVED. The Plaza Jaro (PJ) delicacies is one of the recipients of the Small Enterprise Technology Upgrading Program (SETUP) innovation-enabling fund of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST). The department said on Thursday (Oct. 21, 2021) it released an estimated PHP106 million to qualified micro, small and medium enterprises in Western Visayas since 2020. (Photo courtesy of DOST 6)

ILOILO CITY – The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) has released around PHP106 million innovation-enabling assistance to qualified micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMES) in Western Visayas (Region 6) under its Small Enterprise Technology Upgrading Program (SETUP) since 2020.

Senior Science Research Specialist and SETUP Unit Head Mayrose O. Suerte, in an interview Thursday, said the innovation-enabling fund is open to registered micro-enterprises in operation for at least one year and three years for small and medium enterprises.

They must belong in the identified priority sectors of the department to include food, metals and engineering, furniture, and gift decors and handicrafts, among others.

“The innovation-enabling fund is for them to upgrade their production technologies. Majority they use the financial assistance to buy equipment to upgrade their production facility, to improve their product quality,” she said.

Last year, DOST released around PHP49 million to 29 MSME beneficiaries while as of September this year PHP57 million has been released to 29 out of the 41 target recipients.

Those availed in 2020 dropped to 71 percent when compared with the previous year.

“This innovation enabling fund is a financial assistance, it is not a grant. They have to return this to the government in three to five years without interest,” she added.

The DOST is strict in the conduct of monitoring to make sure the proper utilization of funds, Suerte said.

Virtual monitoring is being done this time of pandemic due to the challenge of mobility. Those who could not liquidate or return the funds could face the risk of facing charges.

Meanwhile, Suerte said interested MSMEs can still apply this year as only 29 were given the enabling fund.

Applicants are advised to coordinate with the provincial offices of the DOST to ask for requirements and the conduct of technology needs assessment.

The provision of the enabling fund is part of the SETUP, is a DOST program that offers a package of assistance comprising consultancy, training, packaging, laboratory analysis, and innovation-enabling fund. (PNA)