More than a budding environment for creative ideas and innovative efforts, TUKLAS Innovation Labs wanted to create a space for collaborative learning amongst its innovators.

Forging learning spaces can be quite a challenge, given the diversity of innovation teams the Central and Southern Luzon (CSL) Lab has faced. The lab has been able to gather artists, professors, students, researchers, humanitarian and development workers, the youth, as well as persons with disabilities to help create a culture of innovative mindsets unique to CSL Lab

As innovation entails a multidisciplinary approach, one that would require different sets of ideas and perspectives, both the lab and the innovation teams recognize there are gaps in knowledge and skills that needed to be filled in along the way. This is where CSL Lab’s diversity proves its strengths: through peer-to-peer learning initiated by the innovators themselves.

Innovators were eager to learn on their own by formulating their own learning exchanges, going beyond the support the lab staff offers. One such initiative is the CSL Lab innovators having their own group chat where they supposedly share opportunities and innovation hacks to help improve their solutions. This stemmed from the physical and spatial gap the innovators had during the span of TUKLAS, however, time and time again, they have proven to be determined to go beyond the confinement of their walls and expand their knowledge in different areas.

Cross Lab Xchange of CONCERN. Inc. (Floating Agriculture) and Kalimudan sa Ranao, Inc. (Growing Food, Saving Lives)

In-Lab Support System

Lab-initiated events serve as a main touchpoint and an opportunity for innovators to gather. These events include HARAYA, Regular Review Sessions, and the Sustainability Training. Several activities were brought about lab-initiated events as these stimulate creative and critical thinking skills of the innovators.

In HARAYA, innovators were able to lay out their plans for the 8-month run but this also became a space to get to know one another within the lab. Small talks about professional experience and innovative vision led to organizing community visits and asking for support in expert fields. Quarterly reviews, on the other hand, were venues for experts to evaluate and comment on the status of the innovation teams. Upon hearing comments from the panel, innovators often reach out to their fellow teams to ask for advice on how they can work out their projects.

FLAREMOB – a systems application developed by the Technological Institute of the Philippines – had a feedback from their community in Barangay Nangka, Marikina City, to make their application more inclusive for persons with disabilities and the elderly. This proved to be valuable pivots in their process as it gave a new perspective on what aspects technological innovations should also focus on.

“We advised them (TIP) if they can have the fonts bigger or a text-to-speech option for their application,” Loi Gelle, Executive Director of Foundation for TheseAbled Persons, Inc. shared. According to Loi, since the application wants to alert citizens of possible flooding, it should also be made accessible to everyone in Barangay Nangka. “FTI wants to be able to share the value of inclusivity in all innovations, may it be a phone application or a DRR Training.”

FTI is now working with TIP in developing an application that can help ease gathering data of PWDs in an area. This goes to show that teamwork developed within the Central and Southern Luzon Lab goes beyond its 8-month run.

Another partnership that began during lab-initiated events is an intra-lab visit between Center for Emergency Aid and Response, Inc. or CONCERN and Pluvia Technologies. CONCERN worked on a floating garden to make use of the flooded and brackish waters around them. Pluvia, on the other hand filters rainwater to make it clearer and usable for the general use of residents in Barangay Lawa, Calamba, Laguna.

Wheng (from CONCERN) opened the idea to Paula (from Pluvia Technologies) during the first quarterly reviews, “Maybe you could visit us in Masantol since there is scarcity of clean water”

The assumption is: Pluvia can help filter the water in Masantol, Pampanga for CONCERN to use it in their floating garden. But more than addressing this assumption, Paula (from Pluvia Technologies) wanted to learn how Wheng (from CONCERN) organizes their community.

“I am amazed how Wheng trusts her community members so much. She just puts her faith in them that if they want to come (to the scheduled activity), they will come,” Paula shares. This is one memorable instance for Paula, as she learned how to manage her expectations when it comes to working with communities, whether her own or the other communities she would be given a chance to collaborate with.

It was artistic support that the watchMe team needed during the Pasundayag Regional Innovation Fair. During the briefing session CSL conducted for the innovators, team members of LIGTASPAD expressed their enthusiasm in helping out other teams by offering their creative services. WatchMe immediately seized the offer and the creative partnership between the two began. Rye Tipay from LIGTASPAD, led the rebranding of the logo and creation of the brochure watchMe gave out during the Fair.

More than the technical support they receive from their lab mates, perhaps the moral support system the CSL Lab and the rest of the TUKLAS team offer that matter more in the attempt to create spaces for innovative solutions in disaster preparedness. Who else can understand challenges and successes during the TUKLAS run other than their “TUKLAS mates?”

However, the challenge is to bring this kind of support beyond the walls of TUKLAS – to create a holistic environment for Filipino innovations to thrive.

 

Innovators from Central and Southern Luzon during Haraya Sessions 2018

 

Successful Attempts

These attempts rose because of the need of one innovation team that may be addressed by other innovation teams within the lab – their immediate support system who they can ask help from. These initiatives took form in an informal, relaxed, and unstructured manner, far from the deliberate programs TUKLAS ran during implementation. Perhaps in a more relaxed environment, innovators are able to come up with more creative approaches in addressing problems and formulating pivots for their innovations.

Related links: