Press Release
October 25, 2011


Senator Edgardo J. Angara will push for at least P322 million in dedicated funding for innovation clusters upon the resumption of plenary deliberations on the 2012 national budget.

He underscored the importance of increasing government funding to build the country's capacity to innovate for development.

"The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) recommends that we spend at least 1 percent of the country's total GDP on research and development (R&D)," said Angara, Chair of the Senate Committee on Education, Arts and Culture. "However, our government spent a meager 0.12 percent in 2009. We have a lot of catching up to do."

To boost government expenditure on R&D, the Congressional Commission on Science, Technology and Engineering (COMSTE), chaired by Angara, proposed the model of innovation clusters which will consolidate and leverage R&D funding lodged with various government agencies.

Innovation clusters will bring together the academe, industry and government in groups that will adapt and develop usable technologies to address the country's pressing challenges on food security, climate change, energy use, and sustainable exploitation of resources.

The initial five clusters identified are Algae Research and Commercialization; Disaster Science and Management; ICT for Cloud Computing and Software-as-a-Service; Responsible Mining Technologies; and Precision Farming and Smart Agriculture

Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Secretary Mario Montejo has expressed willingness to download DOST funds to these clusters. About P30 million from the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCARRD) will be earmarked for the agriculture cluster. Another P10 million is expected from Philippine Council for Aquatic and Marine Research and Development (PCAMRD) for the algae research cluster, which is currently exploring the feasibility of algae as a renewable fuel source. The clusters on disaster science, mining and ICT will receive P120 million from the budget of the Philippine Council for Industry and Energy Research and Development (PCIERD).

Likewise, P50 million from the Commission on Higher Education's (CHED) 2012 budget will go into research projects�including the purchase of equipment or upgrade of existing laboratories�of the five clusters.

The Department of Agriculture will contribute P50 million for the agriculture cluster, while another P50 million will be sourced from the e-government fund to support the technological components of the disaster science, ICT and smart agriculture clusters.

A special cluster of SUC's in the Cordillera Autonomous Region will be eligible to apply for grants totaling P12 million under the CHED in support of projects on cultural preservation, environmental protection, and climate change adaptation.

Finally, Angara will recommend that the Higher Education Fund (HEDF) prioritize faculty development, particularly scholarships for postgraduate studies in the form of doctoral scholarships and dissertation grants to 120 faculty members from the National Network of Normal Schools, as the quality of teaching cuts across all these clusters.

"P322 million is still far inadequate but it is a good start as it amounts to dedicated and pure R&D funding," said Angara.

"The administration must build up on this modest beginning and sustain the momentum in order to achieve a meaningful impact in terms of improved living standards, higher income and new jobs," he stressed.

Angara added that innovation clustering is an ideal framework as the Philippines is especially weak in linkages among the three main actors in an innovation system: government, universities and businesses.

This was confirmed by a new study from the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) entitled the 2009 Survey of Innovation Activities. It shows that 54 percent of business establishments in the country can be considered innovation-active. However, they are less likely to collaborate with universities and government institutions on innovative activities.

Only a few business establishments consider universities and higher education institutions, as well as government and public R&D institutes, as important sources of information. Even more alarming is that less than one-quarter of businesses have received government support for their innovation-related activities.

"The government can no longer afford to be a passive actor here. It must be the source of change. It should provide the impetus to industry and academe to come together in collaborative work," emphasized Angara. "The government must demonstrate that it can lead the country's R&D efforts in a decisive, single-minded and purposeful way.

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