Students, teachers, entrepreneurs identify challenges and opportunities in promoting technopreneurship
Can technopreneurship become an integral part of Filipino communities? The question was at the core of the discussion among the students, teachers, startups, and government leaders gathered inone of the“unconference” sessions facilitated by Google and the Filipino Googlers Network (FGN) at the third IDEA Global Entrepreneurship Symposium held recently at the Makati Shangri-La Hotel.
Google Philippines country manager Ken Lingan
As the name implies, unconferences go against the typical conference format, which often start with a pre-determined agenda and set of speakers.Instead, the meeting begins with participants answering a single question. Each answer then serves as a topic for discussion in separate breakout sessions, where participants can join and contribute their ideas. At the end of the sessions, representatives from each breakout group share the highlights of their respective discussions to the rest of the unconference participants.
“Ideas are the soul of every innovation that has made an impact on people’s lives. By providing people with an avenue that encourages the healthy exchange of ideas, we help engender positive change in society. Unconferences have the power to nurture creative solutions to pressing social problems. That’s why we partnered with Google and the FGN in the recent Symposium to help us create that kind of space to bring out the best from our country’s brightest minds.” --- Dado Banatao, chair of the Philippine Development Foundation (PhilDev).
Since 2014, PhilDev and the United States Agency for International Aid (USAID) have been organizing the IDEA Symposium to encourage young scientists and engineers to become entrepreneurs. At the Symposium, members of the academe, industry leaders, startup entrepreneurs, policy makers, and aspiring scientists and engineers discuss how innovation, quality education, and science-based entrepreneurship can lead to inclusive growth.
Teaching students to become entrepreneurs
The unconference session on technopreneurship highlighted the importance of quality education and the role of the academe in pushing students to start their own innovative businesses. During the discussion, students and professors alike emphasized the need to include more technopreneurship units in the curricula of different academic programs, such as business administration and engineering. Some participants also suggested that more schools should offer technopreneurship as a track in their academic programs.
It was also noted that schools should be the first institutions to foster innovation by adopting technology, which students can use to develop new solutions to existing problems. But beyond having adequate facilities and equipment, teachers must be able to act as mentors to provide aspiring technopreneurs with quality education, the participants pointed out. Unconference participants further agreed that studying abroad will enable young technopreneurs to tap into their skills and talents.
Special focus was given to social media and its ability to enhance learning and build communities through crowd sourcing and information sharing, while also encouraging the development of apps that address various problems.
Much-needed government support
Government was also identified as having a key role in supporting aspiring technopreneurs through better budget allocation for schools, the provision of entrepreneurship capital, and the establishment of systems that attract investors for startups. Local Government Units were also called upon to build workspaces where students, entrepreneurs, potential clients, and government leaders can identify, discuss,and solve urgent problems in the community.
“Collaboration between all sectors is key in institutionalizing support for technopreneurship. If technopreneurs can receive the right amount of support, they can reach their full potential, and deliver the kind of impact that leads to inclusive growth,” Banatao said.