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GIST startup training APEC Alumni aims to promote more women in digital fabrication

May 14, 2019

Iligan City, Philippines -- The FAB LAB Mindanao of the Mindanao State University-Iligan Institute of Technology (FAB LAB) has made a point to welcome mothers into the innovation hub, CreatEVE 3.0.   

According to an article written by The Republic of the Philippine Information Agency, CreatEVE is FAB LAB’s annual program designed to cater to women in digital fabrication and massive production using modernized tools and machines. 

FAB LAB has partnered with The Bridge Student Center (TBSC), Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), and the Global Innovation through Science and Technology (GIST) for the venture. 

FAB LAB works to bridge the gap between creativity and technology. According to FAB LAB’s website, “FAB LAB Mindanao is Mindanao’s first digital fabrication laboratory that can aid the region’s researchers and businesses in creating physical prototypes of their designs.” 

FAB LAB also offers entrepreneurs an opportunity to receive valuable business training, which they can use to turn their STEM innovations into viable startups. As a GIST Innovation Hub, FAB LAB will use GIST to connect with other I-Hubs around the world in order to learn best practices and share solutions on building a strong startup ecosystem.  

This program was developed to engage young people in barangays, or neighborhoods, with work in digital fabrication. The program provided an avenue to learn and nurture careers in STEM, and served as a redirection tool to prevent young people from becoming involved with drugs. Barangay Santiago was the first community where this program was implemented, and with its success, FAB LAB is now looking to collaborate with other barangays in Iligan City. 

"Though our lab is open to all genders, most of our workers here are men,” Dexter Ken P. Lopera, FAB LAB Mindanao’s internal operations manager, explained in the article. “Through CreatEVE, we dedicate a timetable for women so that we will have attention focus, make them feel that they are welcome and they, too, can create their prototypes, manufacture their designs and hashtag ‘make almost anything’ through digital fabrication”. 

Participants learned the basics of digital designing by using their laptops, and operation for the embroidery and laser cutting machine. 

In the article, Maricel P. Ortega, a local teacher there, said The CreatEVE Program “proves that the skills to learn and compete with these digital productions are also for women. We can do whatever men can in this world.” 

 FAB LAB Mindanao is open for everyone. 


A Closer Look at FAB LAB Mindanao: 

Based inside Mindanao State University’s Iligan Institute of Technology, FAB LAB Mindanao is an access center for entrepreneurs and researchers to build their product prototypes. FAB LAB offers entrepreneurs tools that include 3D printers, 3D scanners, laser cutters, precision mills, embroidery machines, power tools, lathes, and conference systems. 

By offering entrepreneurs a collaboration hub to design and build their products, FAB LAB provides an avenue for STEM innovations to become realities. But many of these entrepreneurs lack the training they need to make their ideas into viable businesses, explained Lemuel Clark Velasco, manager of FAB LAB. Specifically when it comes to science innovations, Clark said most ideas remain in the world of academia but rarely make the jump into a commercialized product. 

As part of the work that it is doing, FAB LAB is also bridging the gap between science and business in the Philippines. FAB LAB offers a variety of business training programs for its science entrepreneurs, and facilitates collaborations between science and business innovators in order to build successful STEM ventures. 

But Clark said there is more that can be done to support these entrepreneurs, which is why FAB LAB is joining the GIST Network in 2019 as an Innovation Hub. 

“Being part of the GIST Network as an I-Hub will give us the opportunity to be part of a community of problem solvers and implement similar solutions to similar entrepreneurship problems,” said Clark. “As an innovation center, it is important that we learn from what other innovation centers are also doing, and the GIST Network of I-Hubs will give FAB LAB Mindanao the ease of access to these innovation centers as well as share how we are also implementing our programs.” 

Through the I-Hub program, FAB LAB will host monthly meet-ups to help its entrepreneurs learn more about business skills, including product research and market discovery. Clark said he will also leverage GIST’s I-Hub Network to make sure that FAB LAB is using the most current best practices in startup ecosystem development and support.