Batac City gets funding for bioenergy shared service facility

BATAC CITY — The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) has approved the PHP50.71 million budget for the establishment of the Shared Service Facility (SSF) project at the Mariano Marcos State University (MMSU) here next year.

Also known as the Bioenergy Innovation and Incubation Hub and Co-working Space, the facility will be under the operation and supervision of the university’s National Bioenergy Research and Innovation Center (NBERIC).

It is expected to start operating in the second or third quarter of 2019.

The PHP50.71 million will be added to the PHP100 million budget of the NBERIC, where PHP75 million is allotted for its facility and PHP25 million for its overall operation.

MMSU President Shirley C. Agrupis said Friday the SSF will serve as a venue for bioenergy innovation and entrepreneurship.

In addition to the PHP50.71 million, the university has committed a shared service cost of PHP1 million.

The amount will be used solely for the purchase of modern machinery and equipment to pave the way for a quality branding of bioenergy-based products that could be produced in a shorter period of time.

According to Agrupis, since the first year projection shows a total income of PHP6.025 million, in the next five years, the SSF is expected to generate PHP50.5 million gross sales from products to be produced, creating 360 jobs in the countryside, benefitting 3,272 micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in the Ilocos region, and creating 25 new product designs for various food stakeholders.

“This proposed incubation hub will provide stimulus and needed machinery for local entrepreneurs working on bioenergy and other bio-based products,”Agrupis said, expressing hope that the SSF would not only promote technology expertise, but would also help SMEs through training courses.

She said that since the SSF will also contain various facilities and equipment needed to increase the production of nipa sap and other bio-based products, the university will work closely with the MSMEs in Ilocos to increase the production of nipa and other renewable bioenergy sources.

The equipment to be purchased include apparatus for biomass handling, bio-processing, bio-separation, bio-conversion, thermo-chemical, biogas, and the area for fabrication.

Once established, the facility can offer services, such as laboratory, consultation, training, and incubation business. The target clientele will be assisted to ensure that product quality conforms to the standards of DTI and MMSU.

Technical and scientific experts will also collaborate with local MSMEs to come up with high-value and high-quality product prototypes that eventually upscale to commercial production.

Interested MMSU students and residents of nearby communities who may want to venture into bioenergy production will also be trained on the use of these equipment and assisted in coming up with ideas for possible bioenergy-based products.

Aside from becoming a huge support to the country’s bioenergy industry, the SSF is also expected to play an important role in boosting the region’s industry cluster that requires conformity with national standards and food safety, such as those involved in food and meat processing, metal works, seaweeds processing, and organic fertilizers, among others. Reynaldo Andres/PNA