Senator Edgardo J. Angara called on stakeholders in both the private and public sector to ramp up efforts in spurring innovations in science and technology (S&T) during his message at the opening of the 2012 National Science and Technology Week organized by the Department of Science and Technology (DOST).
Angara, Chair of the Senate Committee on Science and Technology, also lauded the recently launched Project NOAH (Nationwide Operational Assessment of Hazards) of the DOST, calling it “an indigenous Filipino innovation that will help us against Climate Change.”
He added, “This is wonderful because it shows that with some foresight and collaboration, we can innovate and create applications useful in solving our issues as a nation.”
“The ability to formulate new ways of doing things through S&T is crucial now, given that the center of gravity of global production is transitioning away from the West and towards Asia. Innovation is in fact already happening in countries like Japan, Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Singapore. We must ride on this momentum in S&T innovation to, at the very least, catch up with our neighbors.”
The Philippines has however dropped four places its rankings—from 91st in 2011 to 95th in 2012—in the Global Innovation Index compiled by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and noted business school INSEAD. The report noted the country’s weaknesses in education as indicated in a low pupil-teacher ratio and minimal public expenditure per pupil.
“The efforts of both the public and private sector must be unified in cultivating a full-fledged ecosystem conducive for S&T to thrive and innovation to occur,” emphasized the veteran lawmaker, who is also Chair of the Congressional Commission on Science, Technology and Engineering (COMSTE). “Various studies have already shown gaps in our educational system, but there are also weak linkages between industry, the government and the academe that have to be addressed.”
COMSTE advocated for the deployment of innovation clusters—public-private partnerships among government, industry and the academe towards developing S&T solutions to the nation’s biggest challenges. Around P300-million has been allocated from the 2012 national budget for clustering initiatives in Algae Research and Commercialization; ICT for Cloud Computing; Smart Farming and Precision Agriculture; Disaster Science and Management; and Responsible Mining Technologies.
“As these first initiatives are still being rolled out, we are hopeful that future innovation clusters can be formed to focus on other advanced S&T areas like renewable energy, high-value crops, high-value electronics and even regenerative medicine,” explained Angara. “Now , more than ever, is the time for us to take S&T seriously.” (30)