Innovation is transforming the Philippines.
A look at the Global Innovation Index (GII) shows that the Philippines’ innovation level is steadily increasing. In fact, in the recently released GII report, the Philippines ranking rose from number 73 in 2018 to number 54 in 2019, breaking into the top 55.
The notable increases for 2019 by the Philippines are on the following: 1) Trade, competition & market scale (#20) from #30 in 2018; 2) Knowledge absorption (#14), from #32 in 2018; 3) Creative Goods & Services (#40), from #104 in 2018; 4) Innovation linkages (#71), from 93 in 2018; 5) University/industry research collaboration (#25) from #56 in 2018.
Improvement of Human Resources
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 (#18) and knowledge absorption and research talent on business enterprise (6th).
Since 2015 to present, the DOST Grants-in-Aid (GIA) Program has provided the amount of P8.5 billion for the conduct of R&D and related activities which includes Technology Transfer and Knowledge Diffusion and development of human resources for science and technology. A program that demonstrates DOST’s support is the Science for Change Program (S4CP). This was created to accelerate STI in the country in order to keep up with the developments in our time wherein technology and innovation are game changers. Through the sub-program Niche Centers in the Regions for R&D Program, an institutional grant for Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) in the regions is given to catalyze and promote regional development. As of June 2019, DOST has established 15 Niche Centers in the Regions for R&D (NICER) in 11 regions for a total funding of Php528M of which 225M was already released from 2017 to mid-2019. The Centers cover the priority areas/commodity/product in Agriculture, Aquatic and Marine, Environment, Industry, Energy, Emerging Technology and Health.
Another program that aids innovation in the country is the Balik Scientist Program (BSP). This program encourages Filipino experts working abroad to return to the Philippines.
For scholarships, the DOST-Science Education Institute (SEI) started in 2007 two graduate scholarship programs for science and engineering. Starting from minuscule number of graduates in 2008 which increased to 500 graduates of MS and PhD per year in the last three years. In 2018, the two programs have produced 73 PhDs and 332 Masters graduates.
The Philippines improved in almost all the indicators related to Innovation linkages. The country gained top ranks in High-tech imports (5th) and Research talent (6th). In Knowledge and technology outputs (31st), the data for indicator High-tech net exports became available this year and the country ranks 1st. Four other indicators rank in the top 10: Firms offering formal training (9th), productivity growth (10th), ICT services exports (8th), and Creative goods exports (8th). In terms of the innovation linkages, the University/industry research collaboration jumped 26 notches from 56th to 25th. Several DOST innovation-driven programs contributed to this big leap such as the technology business incubation (TBI) program, Startup Nation Research Grant Program and Collaborative Research and Development to Leverage Philippine Economy (CRADLE).
An S4C Program that encouraged industry and university collaboration is the CRADLE program. Under this program, the private sector industry will identify the problem; and the HEIs or RDIs will undertake the research and development. From 2018 to Q2 2019, the CRADLE Program has catalyzed the formation of 18 academe-industry collaborations, with a total of P85 million in grants that are geared towards innovating Filipino companies through R&D.
DOST has been at the forefront of enabling technology entrepreneurs gain more footing through its various programs such as the technology business incubation (TBI) program, Startup Nation Research Grant Program, Funding Assistance for Spin-off ad Translation of Research in Advancing Commercialization Program (FASTRAC), IP Management Program for Academic Institutions Commercializing Technologies (IMPACT), and Higher Education Institution Readiness for Innovation and Technopreneurship (HEIRIT). These programs are in consonance to the recently approved bill signed by President Duterte last April 26,2019, the Innovative Startup Act which aims to provide support for the research and development of startups.
Knowledge and Technology Outputs
In Knowledge and Technology Outputs, the Philippine rose from #49 in 2018 to #31 in 2019. This is because of the big leaps of ranking in terms of Utility models by origin (from #18 to #15), Growth rate of PPP$ GDP/worker (from #27 to #10), High- & medium-high-tech manufactures (from #27 to #25). We also ranked 1st in High-tech net exports and eighth in ICT services exports. In Creative Outputs, the Philippines rose from #92 in 2018 to #63 in 2019. This is because of the big leaps in ranking in terms of ICTs & business model creation (from #58 to #32), and ICTs & organizational model creation (from #62 to #39). We also ranked eight in terms of Creative goods exports.