By EDD K. USMAN, SDN, Twitter @edd1819, Instagram @bluestar0910, Facebook: SDN — Science, Digital & Current News
TACLOBAN CITY (SDN) — PHILIPPINES in 43rd spot of the Global Innovation Index (GII) before end-2022?
That’s a wish that Secretary Fortunato T. de la Peña, head of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), made here.
He felt optimistic about the Philippines cracking the Top 33 percent, given a more vigorous pursuit anchored on DOST’s 10 programs he mentioned to SDN — Science and Digital News.
The DOST chief went further, saying with the programs the Philippines may just become Southeast Asia’s innovation hub.
Being at the top of the GII ranking is much-sought after by countries.
“Before, we were in 73 out of 129 countries. We climbed to 54 percentile, which if you divide out of 129 countries we are in the Top 40.
“Now, I said my wish in our rankings of which usually we are in the middle, ‘sana umakyat tayo galing sa gitna sa Top 1/3 bago matapos and 2022 (I hope we will climb from the middle to the Top 1/3 before the end of 2022)’,” de la Peña said.
The DOST chief, an engineer by profession, explained that in the case of the GII, “sa tingin ko achievable naman ‘yon na makarating tayo sa Top 33 percent bago matapos ang 2022 kasi maka-akyat ka lang sa No. 43 ay nandoon ka na sa Top 33 percent (in my view that is achievable really that we could climb to the Top 33 percent before 2022 ends because if we can climb to No. 43 we are there already in the Top 33 percent).”
He hastened to add that getting into the GII is not solely through the inputs of the DOST and the country’s science community.
The private sector also has its participation.
De la Peña expressed this wish at the DOST VIII celebration of the Regional Science and Technology Week (RSTW) in this Eastern Visayas city.
Sharing the panel of speakers at the RSTW press conference was United States-based Filipino scientist Dr. Joel L. Cuello, a multi-awardee professor of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering. He is also director of the Global Initiative for Strategic Agriculture in Dry Lands (GISAD).
Another panelist, of course, was DOST VIII Regional Director Edgardo Esperancilla in his last RSTW celebration. He is set to retire from government service this year on August 29.
GII 2019 has find the Philippines in the 54th spot, 19 steps higher compared to 2018’s 73 ranking.
The DOST, the Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines (IPOPHIL), among other government agencies, as well as officials have welcomed the rise in the ranking of the country.
IPOPHIL described the GII’s significance as providing “detailed metrics about the innovation performance of 129 countries and economies around the world. Its 80 indicators explore a broad vision of innovation, including political environment, education, infrastructure and business sophistication.”
De la Peña suggested some steps to take on the road to a higher GII ranking.
“On the side of science and technology (S&T), we will strive to have more inputs. Hindi lang naman ‘yon government lang galing ang inputs, pati private sector para mag invest sila sa research. Tapos sa output sinisiguro natin ngayon ‘yon pinaglalagyan natin ng pera sa R&D ay ‘yon meron benefits, products and technology. ((It’s not only from the government that inputs come from, even from the private sector so they should invest in research. And in outputs, we are making sure today that where we put money for R&D has foreseeable benefits, products and technology.”
He pointed out the DOST will no longer put that much money on long-term research studies.
He emphasized: “We are making sure na yon mga research output ay makarating sa marami para magamit (We are making sure the research output will reach many — people — so it can be used).”
The DOST secretary, who held many government positions, including at DOST, before President Rodrigo R. Duterte appointed him S&T chief in 2016, noted the Philippines has other tankings where it placed in the bottom.
But these are no longer under the control of DOST and the science community, he said. Other departments are the ones in-charge.
For example, it’s not in our control the Access to Credit, where out of 129 countries the Philippines is “kulelat” (bottom dweller), de la Peña said.
“In the Ease of Doing Business, we are also bottom dweller. Something should be done about it.”
On the other hand, the DOST chief recalled some of the things the DOST-led S&T community did more vigorously in the last three years.
They are, in his words:
1. Technology diffusion by supporting updated technology acquisition among Philippine enterprises, particularly the MSMEs (micro, small and medium enterprises).
2. Putting a bigger emphasis in the transfer of technology especially the ones resulting from government-supported R&D (research and development).
3. Pushing innovation through formal technology, productivity and quality management training at the firm level.
4. Human resource development in Science & Technology in all levels — increase in the number & variety of programs, particularly at the post baccalaureate or graduate & post graduate levels.
5. Increasing absorption of externally generated knowledge and technologies through carefully chosen bilateral and multilateral cooperation, as well as the strengthening of the Balik Scientist Program (BSP).
6. Providing incentives, motivation & assistance for more innovation outputs like internationally peered scientific publications, technology start ups (like Technology Business Incubation), intellectual property protection and commercialization and other intangible assets.
7. Investing in more innovation inputs like the support for new R&D centers in universities and government line agencies in the different geographical regions of the country that can increase knowledge absorption and diffusion as well as the generation of more innovation outputs.
8. Promoting and supporting partnership and linkages between and among the academe, industry & government towards R&D outputs that will have significant socio economic impact.
9. Setting up Science and Technology based innovation centers exemplified by the Food Innovation Centers (FICs), Metals & Engineering Innovation Centers (MEIC), the Electronic Products Development Center (EPDC), and Automation, Mechatronics & Robotics Industry Laboratories.
10. Adopting the whole of government approach, particularly in developing & implementing the inter-agency Inclusive Innovation Roadmap adopting the earlier developed “Filipinnovation Strategy.”
“If we push the above programs continually and at larger magnitudes, I believe the Philippines will become an Innovation Hub in the Southeast Asian Region,” said de la Peña. (SDN)