As the country works to recover against the devastating effects of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic, Senator Panfilo “Ping” Morena Lacson Sr. and Congressman Jose Ma. Clemente “Joey” Sarte Salceda called for support of the Science for Change Program (S4CP) Bill – a program implemented by the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) to accelerate science, technology and innovation (STI) in the country to keep up with the developments that will shape the future.
In short videos featured in the social media page of the DOST-S4CP, Senator Lacson and Congressman Salceda reiterated the need for the Philippines to invest in research and development (R&D).
“Research and development has always been an imperative for a country that aspires for development,” said Senator Lacson. “The agenda of the Science for Change program is clear – it allows us to be self-reliant, effective and capable of harnessing R&D to resolve our challenges as a nation. In the face of a global health crisis, we need knowledge-driven solutions and evidence-based answers.”
“The economics is simple – while people and resources set a country’s initial potential, investing in science moves its production possibilities frontier, ever forward,” explained by Congressman Salceda. “The S4C bill outlines how our R&D investment will help improve every facet of the economy and our society. Our most important national problems: climate change, food security and even the pandemic demand a scientific response.”
One of the significant accomplishments under the Program is the project with Herbanext Laboratories, Inc., managed under the Business Innovation through Science and Technology (BIST) for Industry sub-program of the S4CP. The BIST Program is designed to assist Filipino-owned companies to innovate and develop competitiveness through acquisition of new and relevant technologies – hardware or software – for research.
Through BIST, Herbanext intends to scale-up their R&D technology to allow the local production of active pharmaceutical ingredient for the Philippine herbal drug industry. The company also provided livelihood to indigenous communities in Negros Occidental. To date, some Ati communities are already part of the groups harvesting herbal plants such as the Tawa tawa for Herbanext, doubling their profits as compared to their usual monthly income from gathering forest materials.
The Collaborative Research and Development to Leverage Philippine Economy (CRADLE), another sub-program of S4CP, has funded 70 academe-industry partnerships for R&D, with a total budget of almost P320 million. CRADLE aims to improve the country’s innovation ecosystem by facilitating the smooth transition of new technologies from universities and research and development institutes (RDI) to industries – from lab to market.
One of the almost completed projects is the Payment Innovation for Solar-Home-System Ownership by Lay Away Routine (PISOLAR) Project in Davao de Oro and Talaingod, Davao del Norte. A partnership between the University of Southeastern Philippines and LeadTech Inc., they are working to provide solar-home-systems for unelectrified communities in these provinces. The project will develop a platform on real-time monitoring of Solar Home System (SHS) Health and usage along with a payment innovation for SHS component ownership through a lay away routing. Another game-changing project is the partnership between the Batangas Egg Producers Cooperative (BEPCO) and University of the Philippines-Diliman to optimize use of their low value chicken eggs by producing instant dried chicken egg white powder and granules through spray drying and agglomeration technologies. Through R&D, BEPCO was able to find an income generating technology and create shelf-stable products for their business.
The Niche Centers in the Region for R&D (NICER) Program provides institutional grants for HEIs in the regions for R&D capacity building to improve their S&T infrastructure. As of 2021, it established 35 R&D Centers, spread out across the 17 regions in the country, with a total funding of 1.7 Billion pesos. A recently approved project is the NICER on Sustainable Polymers led by the Mindanao State University – Iligan Institute Technology (MSU-IIT). The NICER on Sustainable Polymers will optimize the derivatives gained from coconut and fish processing wastes to develop value-added industrial polymer products such as foam, polyurethane-modified concrete and nutraceuticals.
Another sub-program of S4CP is the RDLead Program which aims to further develop and strengthen the research capabilities of the academe, research and development institutions (RDIs), and other government line agencies nationwide. To this end, RDLeaders who are local S&T experts with strong leadership and innovative policy proficiencies are engaged to train, direct and support their R&D goals. The RDLead Program already engaged 39 experts to assist 34 institutions in the country.
“As one of the authors of the bill in the Senate, I support the Science for Change program. We must invest in R&D,” says Senator Lacson. “We must put our trust and confidence in science in charting our direction as a nation, onward and upward.”
Senator Lacson authored the Senate Bill 1303 establishing S4CP. He stressed the need to remain competitive, most specially now that our country faces great economic upheaval. Congressman Salceda is the principal author in the House version.
Interested parties may send their inquiries to the Science for Change Program – Project Management Office, with office address at Department of Science and Technology 2/F ADMATEL Bldg., DOST Compound, Gen. Santos Ave., Bicutan, Taguig City. They may also send an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call the S4C – PMO at (+632) 8837-2943 / 8837-2071 local 2510 or visit the S4C Facebook page at @dost.s4cp.