The Department of Science and Technology-MIMAROPA (DOST-MIMAROPA) will soon open an innovation laboratory (InnoLab) to spur Palawan’s creative industry.

A prototyping facility, InnoLab will give local souvenir producers and manufacturers access to computer-based technologies in designing and fabricating competitive products.

It currently houses computer-numerical-controlled (CNC) milling machine used for engraving, facing, drilling, and cutting such materials as metal, wood, and plastic and other hard materials except for fragile materials like glass; an industrial 3D printer for large 3D items; and, a general-purpose 3D printer for small 3D items.

It will be managed by the Western Palawan University (WPU) in Puerto Princesa City where local designers, hobbyists, engineers, researchers, and students can access the facility.

Authentic Palaweño souvenirs

Dubbed as one of the best islands in the world, Palawan mainly thrives on catering to tourists. A growing tourist number incites more demand for souvenirs—which the locals could have enjoyed but, unfortunately, not every product that can be bought on the island is locally made.

Foreign-made products dominate the Palawan souvenir scene since buying these products in wholesale is relatively cheaper and easier than producing local products.

This high cost of production stems from the lack of a facility that can assist manufacturers in product design and development as well as streamlining the production process.

According to the Pearl and Souvenir Shops Association of Puerto Princesa City and Palawan (PASSAPPP), executing their design ideas is time-consuming and there’s no guarantee of proper execution as they mostly do everything, from sketching to prototype conversion, by hand.

Thus, DOST-MIMAROPA partnered with WPU to establish the InnoLab that will serve as the avenue for Palawan souvenir manufacturers to compete globally using the latest technologies.

The technologies inside the facility will aid them in designing and creating prototype and scale models, utilizing local materials and mass-production of products.

With this in place, it will also ensure the marketability of the souvenir products by supporting short-run production for market validation.

Preparing for the Operations

For effective operation and management, the assigned InnoLab’s manager and other stakeholders learned best practices from operational laboratories in other provinces and the importance of proper networking and linkages with existing and future innovators in Palawan.

On the other hand, upon the installation of the equipment in the InnoLab on July 24-27, 2019, DOST-MIMAROPA and WPU personnel also underwent technology training with experts from Omnifab, Inc, a provider of 3D technologies, as part of the preparation for its launching.

The Palawan InnoLab is expected to operate as soon as possible.