Seeking to aid the country’s recovery amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, the Department of Science and Technology-Science for Change (DOST-S4C) Program has provided more than P695 million for the 10 new innovation centers under the health and industry, energy, and emerging technology sectors.
The DOST unveiled on Friday, Oct.8, 10 new centers under the Niche Centers in the Regions for R&D (NICER) to focus on the areas of industry, energy, disaster risk reduction, climate change, and health.
The launch of the centers themed “Investing in R&D: Shaping the Philippine Innovation Landscape” sought to boost regional initiatives and efforts towards a competitive innovation ecosystem.
The 10 new centers are managed by higher educational institutions (HEIs) in Ilocos, Cagayan Valley, Central Luzon, Calabarzon, Metro Manila, and Northern Mindanao.
“Technology has always been a huge part of our lives and has become an indispensable instrument in making our activities effective, efficient and productive,” said DOST Secretary Fortunato T. De la Peña.
“By optimizing these scientific and technological initiatives, we envision a more efficient, supported, and developed innovation landscape for the Philippines that will cater to the needs of the Filipino people nationwide.”
Undersecretary for Regional Operations Sancho A. Mabborang described the establishment of the NICERs as the agency’s major undertaking “which aims to expand the R&D network and level-up the R&D capability of the higher education institutions and state universities and colleges in the regions to fuel innovation and invigorate the industry sectors that the center will support.”
“In proposing for a NICER, the endorsement of the DOST Regional Office is an attestation that the R&D plan of the center is aligned with the regional R&D priorities, while the endorsement of the Regional Development Council (RDC) is a validation that the proposed center will have significant contributions and impact to the priority industry sector in the region.”
The new NICERs offers technology breakthroughs in biotechnology, diagnostic and therapeutic research, areas which have a significant role in addressing the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
Among the unveiled NICERs are the following:
-NICER on NeuRoTech: R&D Center for Medical Robotics through the De La Salle University (DLSU) -Institute of Biomedical Engineering and Health Technologies (IBEHT)
“This NICER will create an R&D Center of multi- and inter- disciplinary in nature that combines neuroscience, robotics and embedded systems, computational intelligence and data analytics, machine learning and artificial intelligence that would address the rising need for modern and more effective, efficient, and cost-effective health-care products and services,” the DOST said.
“Through this NICER, the Philippines will be able to develop or innovate technologies that will address a present health risk or condition, like the COVID-19 pandemic, through health products, devices, and services.”
– Integrated Protein R&D Center (IPRDC)
Implemented by the Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU), this Biotechnology Facility for Health is envisioned to become a robust pilot-scale manufacturer of proteins and instrumentation for health R&D, enabling and supporting the growth of the Philippine biotechnology sector.
The Center is expected “to build the capacity for producing diagnostic reagents and develop supporting equipment as an intervention with significant potential impact in the Philippines’ ability to address chronic epidemics and acute pandemics (including but not limited to COVID-19).
It also seeks to enhance domestic internal capabilities for rapid development and deployment during future outbreaks and reduce the ongoing cost of molecular diagnostics for all diseases and pathogens such that quality molecular diagnostics is not the privilege of the few.
-Biomaterials for Diagnostics and Therapeutics R&D Center of the Angeles University Foundation (AUF)
“The Center will focus on the development of biomaterials such as antibodies that can be used in diagnostic and therapeutic health applications. It will develop point-of-care device (POCT) technologies that can be used for the differential diagnosis of priority diseases,” the DOST said.
“Furthermore, the R&D center will produce nano materials for integration as carriers and solid support for immunogen in vaccine preparations for different diseases,” it added.
Also showcased are the following R&D centers:
– Center for Lakes Sustainable Development implemented by the Laguna State Polytechnic University (LSPU)
-Center for Environmental Technologies and Compliance implemented by the Polytechnic University of the Philippines-Manila (PUP-Manila
-Coastal Engineering Research (CoastER) Center implemented by Mariano Marcos State University (MMSU)
-Smart Water Infrastructure Management (SWIM) Research and Development Center implemented by Isabela State University (ISU)
-Center for Sustainable Polymers implemented by Mindanao State University–Iligan Institute of Technology (MSU-IIT)
-Center for Advanced Batteries implemented by the Technological Institute of the Philippines (TIP)
-Center for Vector of Diseases of Public Health Importance implemented by De La Salle University Manila (DLSU-Manila)
“Through these R&D Centers, the DOST cultivates the innovation landscape in various sectors to ensure that no one is left behind in the R&D progress despite the setbacks brought by the COVID-19 pandemic,” DOST Undersecretary for R&D Rowena Cristina L. Guevara said.
“It is therefore imperative for us to continuously invest in R&D and support legislation aimed at encouraging innovation like the Science for Change Program Bill.”