The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) is making “strategic and game-changing” moves to boost innovation outputs in the country and help improve the Philippines’ Global Innovation Index Ranking next year.
The assurance was made by DOST Secretary Fortunato “Boy” T. de la Peña during the Innovation Forum hosted by the Department of Science and Technology – Philippine Council for Industry, Energy and Emerging Technology Research and Development (DOST-PCIEERD).
“We do need more innovators, and we at DOST have made and are still making strategic and game-changing moves to achieve this. For example, we have increased our scholarship offerings at all levels from our Philippine Science High School scholars, to our baccalaureate scholars under the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering or Mathematics), program and particularly the MS/PhD program including the programs where we can send graduate scholars abroad,” he said.
He cited that over the years, the Philippines is able to have some gains in innovation despite the limitations in resources.
“Since we have joined the Global Innovation Index Ranking, we have moved from a low of 100 out of 135 countries, we moved gradually and as of 2020, we are already at rank 50 out of 131 countries. I hope that we can still improve this so that by 2022, we will be on top one-third out of all countries,” de la Peña said.
He said while, they focused on innovations to education last year, this year’s focus was to zero in on ways and means to cope with the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic and “having a reset through research, development, and innovation.”
“We also have new ways of delivering human resource development programs or courses online. For example, we have the SPARTA (Smarter Philippines through Data Analytics Research and Development) program which is an online program where people can upskill themselves on Data Science and Artificial Intelligence,” the DOST chief said.
He noted that they also increased investments in Research & Development.
“I have adopted one very important objective or goal when I came in as the Secretary of the DOST, and that is to achieve inclusive development in the area of science, technology, and innovation. This is the reason why we introduce our program Science4Change which has a number of components,”
One of the program components is the Niche R&D Centers for the Regions “where we support in the establishment and strengthening of research centers in universities and research institutes in national government agencies so that we can have strong R&D capabilities nationwide,” de la Peña said.
“It also has a sub-program called RDLead, which is the deployment of national and international Filipino experts who are willing to stay in the regions to help our universities and our R&D institutes in the regions in developing their capabilities in coming up with good science, technology, and innovation projects, and in strengthening their human resource capabilities.”
De la Peña said they also have a component aimed at strengthening the collaboration between industries and the research organizations.
Under the Collaborative Research and Development to Leverage Philippine Economy (CRADLE) Program, the industrial enterprises identify their problems and choose a university or a research institute which can work with them through research and development, to find solutions to their technical problems, or to develop innovations in terms of products, processes, and technologies.
“We also have the sub-component called Business Innovation through Science and Technology (BIST).This is to assist our enterprises to acquire the needed facilities that they would need in doing R&D within their own companies,” he added.
He also noted the implementation of program for start-up development assistance, which has been further strengthened with the enactment of the Innovative Startup Act and the Philippine Innovation Act.
“This gives the DOST, together with DTI (Department of Trade and Industry) and DICT (Department of Information and Communications Technology), the mandate to offer assistance to our technology startups. And of course, the very important strategy of collaboration. Our collaboration is not limited to industry, academe, government, and civil society collaboration within our country. We have also been more aggressive in terms of collaboration with international partners,” de la Peña said.