Iloilo City-based nonprofit Youth First Initiative (YFI) Philippines Inc. has launched FyrLab, a Department of Science and Technology Region VI-funded accelerator for early-stage and growth-driven startups in Western Visayas, the first of its kind in the region.
Program officers at YFI developed the accelerator’s program with the aim of helping startups get ready to scale up and seek investment funding, and contributing to local private sector efforts for startup growth.
FyrLab Accelerator has two components. One is the Clinic, a cluster of limited-time intensive education and mentoring sessions by experts. These experts—industry and knowledge leaders and specialists, active and former entrepreneurs, potential investors, among others—deliver lectures on relevant and essential knowledge and practices that local startups need.
Another is the Fyrside Chats, community-engagement coffee-shop forums that aim to “inspire innovation through conversations.” These are complementing talks that encourage conversations about innovation, technology, Smart Cities, entrepreneurship, startup ecosystem, smart economy, among others.
On Launch Day on February 10, 2022, Program Officer Daryl Lasafin explained what FyrLab is all about and expounded on its goals and components. He also moderated chats with Program Adviser Goldy Yancha and Dr. Carmelo Ambut, vice president for research and extension at Iloilo Science and Technology University.
Yancha talked about the value of a local accelerator in the region. She is a consultant specializing in digital startup development and acceleration and, for more than a decade, had run and managed similar programs in the Philippines and created partnerships for investors and startup founders. Yancha had held key positions at IdeaSpace Foundation and Manila Angel Investors Network.
Meanwhile, Ambut is the project leader of UMWAD, or the Unified Movement in Western Visayas to Accelerate Startup and Spinoff Development. UMWAD is one of the regional startup enablers consortiums under the ReSEED (Regional Startup Enablers for Ecosystem Development) program of the DOST-PCIEERD (Philippine Council for Industry, Energy, and Emerging Technology Research and Development). He sees FyrLab as an opportunity to speed up the growth of startups and spinoffs and to build “a synchronized and complementing [local startup] ecosystem.”
Engr. Rowen Gelonga, DOST VI’s regional director, affirmed the agency’s commitment to support FyrLab, particularly in its goal of building the startup ecosystem. “One of the most critical success factors for our startups is intensive capacity building—by mentoring sessions, trainings, networking, and even benchmarking. And this is essentially what the FyrLab Accelerator is all about, which was conceptualized as something that will interface and support the efforts of our TBIs in Western Visayas,” Gelonga said in his Launch Day message.
For its first cohort, FyrLab is working with the following DOST-supported Technology Business Incubators, or TBIs, in Western Visayas in identifying the startups ready for acceleration:
– Iloilo Science and Technology University (ISAT-U) Kwadra TBI
– GTBI (Green TBI) at West Visayas State University
– Capiz State University Agri-Aqua TBI
– Coastline 5023: University of the Philippines Visayas (UPV) Fisheries TBI
– UPV SEEDS (Small Enterprises and Entrepreneurial Development Services) TBI
– Technological University of the Philippines Visayas HIVE (Hub for Innovation and Value Engineering)
Project leaders and general managers from these TBIs and some of their startups joined the Launch Day, which was held via Zoom and streamed on FyrLab’s Facebook page with Next Chapter Photo & Video Services as streaming partner.