Link up with businessmen, Ilonggo inventor tells colleagues

DOST S&T Service
By Framelia Anonas
20 October 2011

Iloilo City --- Drawing on his own experience in making a crack in competitions and in the market, Philip Cruz, president of Herbanext Incorporated, told Ilonggo inventors to improve their craft and learn from business people. Cruz is one of the breed of inventors who successfully crossed over from mind to market with his practical inventions, including the awarded kinetic fish feeder.

“Invent and re-invent,” the Negros-based Cruz told to an audience of established and budding inventors from the Western Visayas during opening of the Regional Invention Contest and Exhibit at the Amigo Plaza Mall in Iloilo City.

“Creating a product is not the end. Don’t stop there,” he said.

He also advised the inventors to tap business people to bring their product to the market. “When I was just starting, I was like most inventors—I did not trust business people because you have to disclose many things to them,” he admitted. “But then I married a business person and my perspective changed.”

He realized business people could actually help in finding market to inventions “because they think differently from us.” When he was preparing his tea products to market, he wanted them fully packed in small but sturdy containers, he said. But when his wife saw his concept, she said it would not sell. It was then he realized that there are many things that he should learn about consumer behavior and practical considerations like supermarket shelf space and product competition.

“We should now change our way of thinking, including the old-time concept of ‘publish or perish’,” he said. “Now, it should be ‘patent or perish’.”

Cruz was referring to patenting, a form of intellectual property rights granted to an inventor for a limited period. Many inventors even today continue to create products but fail to have them patented. This is quite risky as their products can be copied by unscrupulous people and make profits by selling the copied products in the market.

Cruz likewise encouraged participants, saying that joining contests such as the RICE is very important. “My career (as an inventor) started after I won in the Department of Science and Technology’s Philippine Council for Industry and Energy Research and Development award,” he said. “Other participants had entries on alternative energy while I had something about bangus. (milkfish)”

But he won, and that started his long and successful career in creating products that he later successfully marketed. His awarded technology, the kinetic fish feeder, has been out in the market, helping aqua-farmers simplify their feeding management.

Cruz also developed an all-weather sea cage for farming fish which used less expensive raw materials but same quality and sold it at a fraction of the cost of its imported counterpart. His success in creating innovative products that had high market potentials earned him the recognition of DOST as one of the 50 Men and Women in Science in 2008.

RICE 6, to run from Oct. 19-21 in Iloilo City, features 74 entries from Western Visayan creative researchers and inventors vying for three categories, namely the Invention Category (Tuklas Award); Utility Model Category, Industrial Design Category, Creative Research Category (Likha Award); and the Student Research Categories for both the College and High School levels (Sibol Award).

According to DOST 6 Regional Director Rowen Gellonga, winners in said categories will qualify for the National Invention Contest and Exhibit in 2012. DOST’s Technology Application and Promotion Institute also provides technical and funding support to winners who will compete in both national and international invention contests (Framelia V. Anonas, S Media Service)