THE PHILIPPINE Innovation Act set for implementation could improve the innovation environment in the country, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia said, with expenditure on science and technology to increase and be in line with its ASEAN peers.

Mr. Pernia said currently, the country’s spending on science and technology as a share of gross domestic product (GDP) is at 0.15%, while the budget allocation for research and development is at 0.39% of the national budget.

He said the target is to increase this in line with other advanced countries in ASEAN region that are spending “massively” in research and development to account for around one percent of their GDP.

For instance, he said Singapore “started spending really massively for the training of scientists (and on research) to get the innovation ecosystem going” as early as 1991, following its 25-year “economic haze” from 1965-1990.

“That is a kind of effort that we still need to do. We are just starting, we are just in 1991 or 1995 compared with Singapore. It is a lot of effort needed to get something valuable, useful and something good for the economy,” he told reporters in a press conference in Pasig City on Friday.

The implementing rules and regulations for RA 11293 or the Philippine Innovation Act were signed on Friday by the NEDA, Department of Science and Technology and the Department of Trade and Industry, and will be up for publication this month.

The law was signed in April last year acknowledging science and technology as “essential for national development” and encourages research, innovation and invention, among others.

Under the law, a “revolving” P1 billion from the national’s budget will be earmarked for the Innovation Fund to finance enterprises “developing innovative solutions.”

“If we are able to spend productively the P1 billion startup fund then that would be an indication that we have the absorptive capacity and subsequently, it will depend on the extent of which we consume and show productive effort in this endeavor,” Mr. Pernia said when asked if the revolving fund can be increased.

Under the law, a National Innovation Council will also be established to set innovation priorities and long-term strategy. — Beatrice M. Laforga