THE GOVERNMENT has urged businesses to invest in their research and development (R&D) through its Business Innovation through Science & Technology (BIST) program to boost the competitiveness of local companies.
In a forum held by the Department of Science and Technology (DoST) at the Holiday Inn Makati last Nov. 26, Rowena Cristina L. Guevara, DoST undersecretary for research and development, said although the Philippines has shown improvement in the Global Innovation Index, ranking 83 out of 143 countries in 2015 to 74 and 73 in years 2016 and 2017 respectively, we lack in the utilization of our human resource.
Iyong human resource natin, hindi nari-realize ‘yung full potential dito sa Pilipinas (The full potential of our human resource is not realized here). We have the talent…. So, if we have the talent, we have to be able to maximize and optimize the use of that talent, and our hope is that through the Business Innovation through S&T you’ll be able to do that,” Ms. Guevara said.
The BIST program aims to help local firms acquire technologies by Filipino companies for incorporation in their R&D activities. The program provides financial assistance for at least three years — which can be used for acquisition of high-tech equipment and machinery, technology licensing, and patent rights — to private firms to help enhance their capacity.
The program will fund 70% of the total eligible cost of the technology with no interest. The remaining 30% will be sourced by the applicant.
The proposal should be a multiyear project from three to five years. The company will be given a two year grace period and refund will begin on the third year of the project.
Proposals should fall within certain priority industries, namely agri-processing including drug and herbal development; integrated circuit design; creative industries/knowledge-based services; information and communications technology, including artificial intelligence; food and nutrition; environment and climate change; agriculture, fishery and forestry; semi-conductors and electronics; renewable energy; industrial waste treatment; infrastructure and logistics; and manufacturing.
Ms. Guevara noted that industries should work hand-in-hand with the government on investing on R&D.
“BIST is a way for us to encourage industries to do R&D kasi nga some of the risks, initially, are taken by the government…but then if our industries start practicing doing R&D, ‘yung productivity talagang male-level-up (their productivity will level up),” she explained.
Ms. Guevara said innovation could significantly affect a business’ profit. “[W]hen you invest in R&D in the business side, ang (its) multiplicative factor niya is 1:7 hanggang (up to) 1:14. So, for every peso that you invest, ang (it) returns niya P7.00 per year. So ang hope namin (our hope) is that our companies will do research such that they come up with new products, new processes, new services.”
She also noted that such investments could increase company’s market differentiation and product competitiveness. — V.M.P. Galang