SCIENCE and Technology Secretary Fortunato dela Peña announced that the Philippines’ innovation ranking for 2019 is now 54, a big leap from 73 in 2018.
Dela Peña discussed the reasons behind the country’s considerable leap in the Global Innovation Index (GII) during the 10th Technology Media Conference of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) over the weekend.
He added that it is the first time for the Philippines to be included in the group of innovation achievers of the GII “due to the remarkable performance in knowledge diffusion and knowledge absorption.”
GII is an annual ranking of countries based on their capacity for and success in innovation. It is published by Cornell University, INSEAD (Institut Européen d'Administration des Affaires), and the World Intellectual Property Organization, in partnership with other organizations and institutions.
Dela Peña noted that the Philippines scored above average in almost all innovation dimensions, a result of the various DOST contributions to Inclusive Innovation from Filipinnovation to the signing of the Philippine Innovation Act.
“DOST is committed to vigorously advance science, technology and innovation of Filipino-owned companies, universities, and Research and Development Institutes (RDI) as stipulated in the Philippine Development Plan 2017 to 2022. Science for the People must enhance the social fabric, reduce inequality, and increase potential growth,” Dela Peña said.
The GII ranking is composed of seven pillars including institutions, human capital and research, infrastructure, market sophistication, business sophistication, knowledge and technology outputs, and creative outputs. It was noted that the Philippines has showed progress in almost all of the GII pillars except market sophistication which dropped 10 notches from 100 in 2018 to 110 in 2019.
Despite of this, Dela Peña said that the Philippines presents a number of weak areas which include ease of starting a business, expenditure on education, global Research & Development (R&D) companies, scientific and technical articles, and new businesses.
On the positive side, DOST has been the major producer of the pool of science and technology (S&T) professionals in the country. The multidisciplinary S&T scholarships offered by DOST attributes to the Philippines’ consistent top rank in terms of graduates in science and engineering at Number 18.
The DOST had awarded some 9,852 scholarships to undergraduate students along with dozens of scholarship grants for people taking up courses in various discipline, including doctorate and master degrees in medicine and agri-based courses.
Dela Peña said some of the graduates from these scholarships have pursued research and development, and are now part of several projects funded by DOST. Graduates have been part of some of the DOST technologies in use today like the Biotek M Dengue Kit which allows diagnosis of whether a patient has dengue or not in less than an hour. Since 2016, the technology has been bagging awards.
There is also the USHER (Universal Structural Health Evaluation and Recording), a cost-effective 24/7 Structural Health Monitoring System for buildings and bridges which enables economical and hassle-free compliance.
Another is the vigormin, a natural, odor-free, safe and effective treatment of septic/waste water, and SARAI (Smarter Approaches to Reinvigorate Agriculture as an Industry in the Philippines) which aims to reduce crop losses through the development and use of precision agriculture for a climate-smart agriculture or “smarter farms”.
Science for Change program
The DOST had also expanded S&T programs to other regions. To increase the potential of other regions, DOST had launched the Science for Change Program (S4CP).
S4C focuses on Program Expansion in 10 Areas, New Programs in 5 Areas, Grand Plan for S&T Human Resource Development (HRD), and (4) the Accelerated R&D Program for Capacity Building of R&D Institutions and Industrial Competitiveness
DOST is also providing more support for Filipino scientists. On June 15, 2018, the Balik Scientist Act of R.A. 11035 was passed into law improving the incentives, benefits, and privileges of the program to entice more scientists to work in the Philippines.
The Balik Scientist Program (BSP) aims to strengthen the S&T capabilities of local researchers in the academe, public and private sectors, and industries with the help of Balik Scientists. Some 34 scientists are now under the said program.
Space science and technology
Dela Peña said that through the Development of Philippine Scientific Earth Observation Microsatellites (PHL-Microsat) Program, the capacity-building activities on small satellite development in the Philippines began in January 2015 in partnership with Tohoku University for the satellite bus and Hokkaido University for the scientific payload.
He added that the program completed the microsatellite, Diwata-1, within one year and successfully deployed it in orbit on the 27th of April 2016 through the International Space Station (ISS). This was followed by Diwata-2, which was launched in 29 October 2018 at 600 kilometers, sun-synchronous orbit. Also under the program, a one-kg cube satellite named Maya-1 was launched in 10 August 2018 along with identical cube satellites from Bhutan, Malaysia and Japan.
“These efforts yielded important milestones on the development of technological know-how and local infrastructure through manpower and institution-building, which now serve as the foundation for further innovations that will continue to bring the benefits of space technology to the Filipino nation, and will support the Philippine Space Agency,” Dela Peña said.
The Cradle (Collaborative Research and Development to Leverage Philippine Economy) program is one of the components of the S4C Program which aims to improve the innovation system in the country by creating a structure that facilitates the smooth transition of new knowledge and technologies from the academe to the industries for practical use and application.
From its implementation, a total of P85 million in grants has been provided to develop solutions to the problems experienced by local companies.
The program is aimed at developing new and innovative products by using data science and artificial intelligence to decrease losses and increase productivity.
Cradle enables micro, small, medium and large companies to partner with Higher Educational Institutions and Research and Development Institutions all over the country.