The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) on Monday, June 7, took delight in the call made by lawmakers to push for the passage of the Science for Change Program (S4CP) bill to ensure “greater" research and development (R&D) funding for the Philippines.
The DOST released a statement citing the support made by Senator Panfilo "Ping” M. Lacson Sr. and Albay 2nd District Rep. Jose Ma. Clemente "Joey" Sarte Salceda to the S4CP bill, a program implemented by the DOST to accelerate science, technology and innovation (STI) in the country.
Lacson and Salceda are principal authors of the S4CP measure.
“Research and development has always been an imperative for a country that aspires for development,” Lacson said in a short video featured in the DOST-S4CP’s social media page.
“The agenda of the Science for Change program is clear – it allows us to be self-reliant, effective and capable of harnessing R&D to resolve our challenges as a nation. In the face of a global health crisis, we need knowledge-driven solutions and evidence-based answers.”
Salceda, chairperson of the influential House Committee on Ways and Means, also cited the need for the Philippines to pour in more resources in R&D.
“The economics is simple – while people and resources set a country’s initial potential, investing in science moves its production possibilities frontier, ever forward,” Salceda said in a short video posted on DOST-S4CP’s social media page.
“The S4C bill outlines how our R&D investment will help improve every facet of the economy and our society. Our most important national problems: climate change, food security and even the pandemic demand a scientific response.”
DOST Undersecretary for Research and Development Rowena Cristina L. Guevara had noted that the S4CP was created to accelerate science, technology and innovation in the country "to keep up with developments in our time wherein the technology and innovation are the game changers.”
"Through R&D, it seeks to come up with new products and technologies to solve pressing national problems. The bottomline is that it will accelerate R&D not just in the higher education institution but in the collaboration between the academe and industry and R&D in the industry,”
Positive impacts of Science for Change
The S4CP focuses on accelerated R&D program for capacity building of R&D institutions and industrial competitiveness.
The program is composed of four sub-programs: Business Innovation through S&T (BIST) for Industry Program, Collaborative Research and Development to Leverage Philippine Economy (CRADLE), Niche Centers in the Regions (NICER) for R&D, and RDLead Program.
The DOST cited the project with Herbanext Laboratories, Inc. as “one of the significant accomplishments” under the program.
Herbanext is managed under S4CP’s BIST for Industry sub-program, which funded study on medicinal plants to cure lifestyle diseases; provided livelihood to indigenous communities; and spared country's flora and fauna from extinction.
"Through BIST, Herbanext intends to scale-up their R&D technology to allow the local production of active pharmaceutical ingredient for the Philippine herbal drug industry,” the DOST said.
Indigenous communities in Negros Occidental were given livelihood, it said. "To date, some Ati communities are already part of the groups harvesting herbal plants such as the Tawa tawa for Herbanext, doubling their profits as compared to their usual monthly income from gathering forest materials.”
The DOST said the BIST program aims to assist Filipino-owned companies to innovate and develop competitiveness through acquisition of new and relevant technologies - hardware or software - for research.
The department cited that S4CP’s sub-program, CRADLE granted almost P320 million in funding to 70 academe-industry partnerships for R&D.
CRADLE facilitates the smooth transition of new technologies from universities and research and development institutes (RDI) to industries - from lab to market, it said.
The Payment Innovation for Solar-Home-System Ownership by Lay Away Routine (PISOLAR) project in Davao de Oro and Talaingod, Davao del Norte has been identified as one of the almost completed projects under the sub-program.
The project is jointly implemented by the University of Southeastern Philippines and LeadTech Inc.
"They are working to provide solar-home-systems for unelectrified communities in these provinces.”
The DOST said the project is set to come up with a platform on real-time monitoring of Solar Home System (SHS) Health and usage along with a payment innovation for SHS component ownership through a lay away routing
"Another game-changing project is the partnership between the Batangas Egg Producers Cooperative (BEPCO) and University of the Philippines-Diliman to optimize use of their low value chicken eggs by producing instant dried chicken egg white powder and granules through spray drying and agglomeration technologies. Through R&D, BEPCO was able to find an income generating technology and create shelf-stable products for their business.”
NICER for R&D
Under the NICER program, 35 R&D Centers worth P1.7 billion have been so far established across the 17 regions in the country.
The latest approved project is NICER on Sustainable Polymers led by the Mindanao State University – Iligan Institute Technology (MSU-IIT).
"The NICER on Sustainable Polymers will optimize the derivatives gained from coconut and fish processing wastes to develop value-added industrial polymer products such as foam, polyurethane-modified concrete and nutraceuticals,” it said.
The DOST said under NICER, institutional grants are given to higher education institutions (HEIs) in the regions for R&D capacity building to improve their S&T infrastructure.
The DOST reported that S4CP’s another sub-program, RDLead program has already engaged 39 experts to assist 34 research and development institutions (RDIs) in the country.
The program aims to further develop and strengthen the research capabilities of the academe,RDIs, and other government line agencies nationwide, it said.