MANILA -- Research and technology assistance are the major highlights of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) for 2017.

DOST Secretary Fortunato Dela Pena told the Philippine News Agency what he considers the five major accomplishments of the DOST in 2017, namely:

1. Research and development (R&D) assistance

Dela Pena said the DOST assisted more than 1000 R&D projects all over the country, with 65 percent already completed.

The 1,057 R&D projects are being managed by DOST-attached agencies and councils such as the Philippine Council for Industry, Energy and Emerging Technology Research and Development (PCIEERD) and the Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (PCHRD).

In terms of technology transfer, the DOST-Technology Application and Promotion Institute (TAPI) guides investors regarding the intellectual property system. The agency also provides them with patent consultations as well as grants for the payment of Intellectual Property Office (IPO) fees.

According to DOST, 165 patents have been filed at the IPO this year.

Three Technology Transfer Days were also organized in 2017, and 30 technology fairs were conducted.

Technology Transfer Day is an activity that aims to ensure technologies/inventions are maximized for the benefit of society and industries. Locally-developed technologies supported by the DOST are showcased during this activity.

The agency also provides pre-commercialization support. A total of 17 inventions it has promoted were already commercialized this year.

2. Assistance to MSMEs

For this year alone, 574 firms were provided with hardware and software to upgrade their technology capacity, according to Dela Pena. These micro, small, medium enterprises (MSMEs) have received the SETUP (Small Enterprises Technology Upgrading Program) innovation fund.

SETUP is a DOST program that aims to encourage MSMEs to adopt technological innovations to improve their products and services. The program aims to help MSMEs improve their competitiveness by providing them with a loan that is payable in three years.

3. Assistance to startups

The DOST has assisted almost 400 startups in 2017. "We have provided them with all types of assistance -- money, services, calibration, etc.," said Dela Pena.

To further help the startups and MSMEs, the DOST offers the OneStore, a website where their products are displayed and can be purchased.

Close to 11,000 products have been uploaded in the OneStore website this year.

4. Human resource development

Dela Pena noted that in 2017, the DOST has provided scholarships to more than 22,000 students.

Of the said figure, 7,881 are scholars of the Philippine Science High School. Close to 1,000 are taking their PhDs while 2,700 are taking Master of Science. The rest of the scholars are taking an undergraduate course.

5. Additional radars 

To further improve weather forecasting capability and disaster risk reduction in the country, four Doppler radars, which could measure the rain volume, and two flood forecasting and warning centers have been completed this year.

The DOST said that to date, the country has 13 Doppler radars and three X-Band radars in the country. "These radars have contributed to low forecast track error," the agency said.

Doppler radars are located in Iloilo, Palawan, Guian, Subic, Tagaytay, Mactan, Hinatuan, Tampakan, Basco, Zamboanga, Aparri, Virac, and Baguio.

The three X-Band radars, on the other hand, were placed in the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) central office in Quezon City, Mindanao, and Baler. (PNA)