THE Provincial Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise Development (MSMED) Council of Negros Occidental is upbeat that the recently signed Philippine Innovation Act will drive growth and development among local entrepreneurs, its top official said.
Mary Ann Colmenares, chairman of the Negros Occidental Provincial MSMED Council, said the measure is a very enabling mechanism for MSMEs.
Colmenares said innovation is important as Filipinos are competing with the rest of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) countries.
“We need to be at par with the global directions of other countries and innovation is one essential component,” she added.
On April 17, President Rodrigo Duterte signed Republic Act (RA) 11293 or the Philippine Innovation Act in the bid to promote growth and national competitiveness of MSMEs.
The law, a copy of which was made public on July 16, seeks to generate and scale up action in all levels and areas of education, training, research and development toward promoting innovation and internationalization activities of MSMEs as driver of sustainable and inclusive growth.
In line with this objective, the law mandates the government to adopt a broader view in developing its innovation goals and strategies covering all potential types and sources of innovation.
“While the country’s innovation goals shall be directed at developing new technologies, it shall likewise seek to harness global knowledge and technology that will aid in developing new processes or services for increasing its productivity and for promoting overall public welfare,” the law stated.
The Negros Occidental Provincial MSMED Council is currently composed of 11 member-associations, groups and agencies.
The private sector associations are the Association of Negros Producers, Bacolod-Negros Occidental Federation for Information and Communications Technology, Philippine Council of Women, Chinese Chamber of Commerce, and Hotel and Restaurant Association of Negros Occidental.
For the government sector, the members include the Department of Science and Technology, Department of the Interior and Local Government, Department of Agriculture and the Provincial Government of Negros Occidental, among others.
Its chairman also expressed optimism that the law will also help address the need to create “smart” MSMEs.
Colmenares said being smart means “we all have to latch into the internet of things and embrace digitalization while keeping what is genuine and unique to the Philippines to become smarter MSMEs.”
An initial P1 billion will be appropriated for the first year implementation of the law.
Under which, the National Innovation Council (NIC) to be chaired by the President is created to develop the country’s innovation goals, priorities, and long-term national strategy.
The council is tasked to develop a 10-year National Innovation Agenda and Strategy Document, which will establish the country’s vision and long-term goals for innovation and provide a road map and strategies for improving innovation governance.
The NIC is likewise directed to develop strategies to promote the creation of new ideas that will be developed into new and quality products, processes, and services aimed at improving the welfare of low-income and marginalized groups.
The law also orders the council to develop strategies towards promoting MSME internationalization and participation in the local and global value chains.
“A comprehensive support program, from incorporation to internalization, shall be developed by the NIC and implemented by the agencies concerned,” it said.
These programs shall include coaching and mentoring in the areas of design; technology extension services; standard business practices in contracting, accounting and project management; quality control; standard-setting; business services such as commercialization and management; patents; among others.
Also, the law instructs the Department of Trade and Industry to look for high productivity innovative businesses to help them identify and exploit opportunities in overseas markets.
Moreover, under the law, among the priority areas of innovation to be considered include food security and sustainable agriculture, ‘blue economy’ or ocean resources, human capital, and digital economy, among others.
“All of these priority areas are timely and relevant in Negros Occidental as many of our local entrepreneurs are within these lines of businesses,” she said, adding that innovations in these areas would really result in growth and development of Negrense MSMEs.
Meanwhile, to promote public awareness and national support for innovation, RA 11293 declares April 21 of every year as National Innovation Day.
For Colmenares, however, the country already has a lot of holidays which can make enterprises less competitive. “Paying employees without work is an added cost,” she added. (With reports from SunStar Philippines)