With the signing of Republic Act No. 11293 or the Philippine Innovation Act of 2019, I fervently believe that the country stands in the threshold of a new era. We have officially embraced the need to innovate, to explore not only new technologies, but new approaches and strategies in leveraging on these technologies and harnessing capacities of Filipinos to utilize them.
Last week, as founder of the Philippine ICT Innovation Network, I had the opportunity to be part of a public consultation on the draft of the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of the law along with other stakeholders. Understanding the law and looking at the provisions more closely made me more excited about the possibilities that innovation can bring to our country.
Under the law, the country will now foster innovation as a vital component of national development and sustainable economic growth. Section 10, Article XIV of the Constitution that recognizes science and technology as “essential for national development and progress” and gives priority to “research and development, invention, innovation and their utilization”. Innovation refers to the creation of new ideas that results in the development of new or improved products, processes, or services which are then spread or transferred across markets. Innovative goods and services refer to the new or significantly improved products, services, processes, technical specifications or components, methods and tools that enhance the government’s ability to deliver services.
The objective of the Philippine Innovation Act is to generate and scale up action in all levels and areas of education, training, research and development towards promoting innovation and internationalization activities of MSMEs as driver of sustainable and inclusive growth. It aims to promote a culture of strategic planning and innovation to encourage creative thinking and knowledge creation and dissemination towards expanding and maintaining economic competitiveness and improve innovation governance in the country and compel the adoption of a long-term vision and focused priorities for innovation.
The law aims to ensure effective coordination and eliminate fragmentation of innovation policies and programs at all levels; strengthen the position of MSMEs in the innovation system; remove obstacles to innovation by suppressing bureaucratic hurdles, and adapting the regulatory framework to support the creation of and diffusion of new knowledge, products, and processes; and encourage entrepreneurial attitude in order to stimulate growth ambitions in businesses, especially among MSMEs. It also aims to explore, promote and protect the potentials for innovation of traditional knowledge, traditional cultural expressions and genetic resources; and strengthen and deepen interactions and partnerships among different actors from the public and private sector, academe, MSMEs, research and development institutions and communities towards promoting inclusive growth and improving the quality of life through innovation.
I am looking forward to an ecosystem that allows the design, development and implementation of actual citizen’s platforms like validation conferences, learning launches to encourage SMES and citizens to share ideas on innovation.
The law calls for the creation of a national innovation council (NIC), the development of a national innovation and strategy document (NIASD) and the creation of an innovation fund to the amount of at least 1 billion pesos annually.
The government shall employ a range of instruments to achieve the objectives of the law, such as technology programs and platforms, innovation centers and networks, cluster policies, including policy dialogues; human capacity building programs as use of patent information, including patent landscape reports.
The proposed IRR created by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), Department of Science and Technology (DOST) and the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) identified a long list of priorities such as space technology, artificial intelligence, data science, digital economy, finance, biomedical engineering, energy and power, agriculture and food, biotechnology, information and communications technology, pharmaceutical, disaster mitigation and management, environment and natural resources, electronics, genomics, health, manufacturing (including additive manufacturing), nanotechnology, cyber security, defense, semiconductors, nuclear and radiation technology, and other areas identified in the national development plan. I shall discuss the other salient features of the law in the future.