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Where entrepreneurship meets technology

Innovation is a term that gets thrown a lot these days. We hear about a lot of young people with great, innovative ideas on how to improve aspects of our modern lives. Many of them have a vision of how to harness technology to improve our quality of life.

Some of them succeed and they become the newest startup that is the toast of the town. But sadly some of them fizzle out faster than you can download movies (well, if you have high-speed wifi, but that’s for another issue).

Most of the time, the downfall of these startups – who have fantastic visions of technology – is a lack of understanding the fundamentals of business. Some of the technology visionaries simply lack entrepreneurial skills.

This was the idea behind the partnership that I forged with my alma mater, the University of the Philippines, to develop the UP School of Technology Entrepreneurship inside the new UP Alabang campus.

Technology entrepreneurship, or as some experts call it “technopreneurship,” is the seamless meeting point between two forces that have shaped our world. Technology and entrepreneurship have become the two main engines of the global economy.

We have read about the lives of Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, and other tech geniuses who tinker with new ideas such as computer designs, software, or renewable power sources. We also know about business visionaries like John D. Rockefeller, Andrew Carnegie, Richard Branson, Ingvar Kamprad, and many others who built business empires from absolutely nothing.

From my own experience, I can tell you that there is nothing more exhilarating than making something out of nothing.

Looking back, I imagine how others might have thought I was crazy to start a gravel and sand business armed only with two reconditioned trucks and persistence. The rest, as they say, is history. The sense of fulfillment in setting up a successful business venture, I imagine, is something similar to inventing new technologies. They are both eureka moments.

This partnership between the leading property developer and the top educator in the country will allow us to create a platform for a future where brilliant “technopreneurs” can fuse emerging technologies with viable business models and also understand what business environment might help technology grow and form sustainable, profitable businesses.

The UP Alabang campus will be home to two new tech-driven centers for innovation for the country’s premier university – the aforementioned UP School of Technology Entrepreneurship, and the UP Alabang Enterprise Center. The campus complex is part of a donation and development agreement we signed last June, 2016. Through the agreement, UP accepted my contribution of 5 hectares of land in the upcoming University Town of Vista Land’s communicity development in Vista Alabang on Daang Hari and a donation of R300 million worth of buildings and equipment to be used in the creation of the campus.

I am very happy and proud to share with you dear readers that we have started building on that vision. Last week, we launched the @Lab Innovation Hub, the initial phase of development in the upcoming UP School of Technology Entrepreneurship.

The UP @Lab, located in the Evia Lifestyle Center, is a fully-equipped innovation hub complete with 4 start-up offices, 2 meeting rooms, and an open workspace area for visiting locators. The hub will be run by the same team behind UP Diliman’s DOST-UP Enterprise Center as a starting point for eventual operations in UP Alabang.

I was there with my family – Cynthia, Paolo, Mark, and Camille. I am thankful to UP for joining us in the event. The outgoing UP President Alfredo E. Pascual and the new UP President Atty. Danilo Concepcion witnessed the momentous occasion.

In my speech, I shared my vision for the new UP campus – to become the most dynamic university, leading in education and the center of technology and innovation.

With UP Alabang, not only do we finally see the presence of UP in the south; we will also create a community that is designed to become the heart of all start-up activity in the Philippines.

On a personal note, I view this partnership as my way of giving back to the University, “sa UP Naming Mahal,” for helping me become the person that I am today. I should note that Cynthia and I were classmates in the University of the Philippines, proud graduates of the UP and the College of Business Administration.

Looking back, UP also gave me a good start in life. You know it was not until I entered UP that I started dreaming big. Of course, when I was young, I dreamt of getting my family out of poverty. But I did not have those big dreams.

In UP, I saw my classmates dreaming big – to become president, senator, governor, business leader. So UP taught me to dream big. I thought to myself, “Kahit mahirap lang ako pwede naman pala mangarap ng mataas.”

It was in UP where I started dreaming big. Now, I am still with UP dreaming even bigger dreams.

(For comments /feedback/ feedback email to: mbv.secretariat@gmail or visit www.manyvillar.com..ph.)
(Senator Manny Villar)