DOST sec lauds MMSUís S&T projects

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DOST Secretary Fortunato Dela Peña lauded MMSU for the successful implementation of various DOST-funded S&T projects, saying that such accomplishments will go a long way in improving the lives of Filipinos.

Dela Peña, who visited the university on March 29, made an ocular inspection of the Food Innovation Center (FIC), Geoinformatics Center (Light Detection and Ranging or LiDAR), Tuklas Lunas, Renewable Energy/Bioethanol Project, and the Center for Innovative Materials and Emerging (CIMEA).

Food Innovation Center

Seeing the rapid development of the center located at the MMSU S&T Park, Dela Peña said he is happy to see that the project is a great help to those who want to establish a small to large scale food processing business in the region.

Launched in September 2015, the FIC is now functioning as a one-stop food R&D center that helps improve the province’s local food products in order to reach a sizeable share of the local and national markets and to serve as a venue for trainings, food testing laboratories, and consultancy services.

Dela Peña also watched the operation of the equipment donated by DOST such as the spray dyer, retort packaging machine, and vacuum fryer; and those given by the NEDA and the Development Bank of the Philippines such as liquid and solid packaging machines, a vacuum sealer, and a refrigerated van that hauls the food items to be packed.

“Indeed, the FIC is now making innovative technologies, relevant support services, technical expertise, and necessary structures and facilities more accessible for small-scale enterprises in the region,” said Dela Peña, adding that the center will lead to more effective technology application, transfer, and commercialization of new food technologies in view of sustained economic growth and productivity.

LiDAR Project

Expressing interest in the implementation of the LiDAR project at MMSU, Dela Peña, upon seeing the accomplishments of the program, urged the personnel behind the project to work further so that the project will benefit more local government units (LGUs) by identifing untapped and unknown natural resources in their areas for development purposes.

LiDAR 2 complements existing programs of various national government agencies and assists LGUs in mapping the Philippines’ natural resources. State-of-the-art technologies such as LiDAR and other remote-sensing and GIS technologies are used to generate high-resolution resource maps and resource vulnerability maps. These provide detailed assessment of the country’s natural resources such as high-value agricultural crops, coastal resources, forest, hydrological and renewable energy resources. Further, these will help formulate recommendations and address future local supply and demand in agriculture, coastal, forest, and renewable resources through the collaboration of MMSU and private higher education institutions (HEIs) in processing and validating LiDAR data and in developing resource valuation models.

MMSU Tuklas Lunas

This center, which literary means cure discovery, was established in 2013 with help from DOST’s Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (PCHRD). It is now functioning as a hub for natural products research for drug development in Region 1.

The center is one of only three Tuklas Lunas centers in the country. The other two are located in the Visayas State University and in the Mindanao State University-Iligan Institute of Technology (MSU-IIT).

Dela Peña said that apart from being centers for research, MMSU will also facilitate collaborative research with other institutions in their respective areas. As such, it will soon receive additional research and equipment grants from DOST-PCHRD.

“We are very happy to see what you are doing here at MMSU because I can see that your research efforts are being recognized,” Dela Peña said, adding that the university is having a great opportunity to contribute for the country’s research effort in natural products research for drug discovery.

The DOST’s criteria in choosing Tuklas Lunas Centers include excellent R&D track record, competitive staff, and institutional capacity. Tuklas Lunas Centers are part of DOST-PCHRD’s effort to accelerate drug discovery research in the country.

Village-Scale Bio-ethanol Refinery Project
Dela Peña also got a glimpse on how bioethanol is being produced when he visited the village-scale bio-ethanol project at the MMSU’s Crops’ Research Laboratory. He expressed appreciation on how the university took a remarkable effort in helping the country attain its sustainable program for bioethanol production.

Dr. Shirley Agrupis, project leader, shared how a small group of “guerilla scientists” worked on a technology that would later on reap various national awards.

With the support of USAID-STRIDE, the Department of Energy, various LGUs in the provinces of Cagayan and Ilocos Norte, DOST, and the Ethanol Producers Association of the Philippines (EPAP), the MMSU Bioethanol Project is leading communities to carry out sustainable ethanol production without sacrificing food production for fuel.

The use of Nipa as bioethanol feedstock was successfully explored by the MMSU Bioethanol Team. Recently, the Sugar Regulatory Authority, through EPAP, provided P3-M for the project, specifically for for the storage and commercial trial run of nipa hydrous ethanol to be produced in Pamplona, Cagayan, the model site of the village-scale Nipa bioethanol industry. The grant award was one of the highlights of the Philippine Bioenergy Summit keynoted by Sen. Juan Miguel Zubiri, author of the the Biofuels Act of 2006.

The DOST Secretary was visibly pleased with the positive development in the MMSU Bioethanol project.

The Center for Innovative Materials in Emerging Applications (CIMEA)
Touring the vicinity of the CIMEA, Dela Peña expressed appreciation for the center’s thrusts in the fields of emerging materials and their applications in nanotechnology, agriculture, climate and environment. Giving details on the functions of CIMEA to Secretary Dela Peña, CIMEA center chief Tomas Ubiña explained how the naturally-existing materials for development are being utilized.

Dela Peña said he is happy to see how the center focuses on promoting S&T to aid countryside development -- potentially through reverse migration of highly-motivated scientists and engineers to regional SUCs. Established in October 2012, CIMEA has become a model S&T center for other regions to emulate in their respective localities.

Dela Peña’s MMSU visit lasted four hours, ending with an early dinner at the MMSU Hostel.

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