MANILA – The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) is urging scientists and engineers to help in guiding investors setting up shop in identified growth areas by joining the Innovation, Science, and Technology for Accelerating Regional Technology-based (iSTART) development program.

In a message over the weekend, DOST Secretary Fortunato dela Peña said the agency is recruiting scientists and engineers to serve as consultants to possible investors.

The iSTART program aims to support the development of local government units (LGUs) by accelerating regional growth through science, technology, and innovation.

"There are already S&T experts and experienced persons from the industry who expressed interest to serve in the program and support iSTART," he said.

He added that preliminary discussions were done with some experts from DOST research and development institutes, councils, and the private sector.

The program would attract new technology-based investments based on the validated development plans in collaboration with the LGUs.

"Through the program, (the) DOST will assist LGUs in developing a technology-based development plan for the agri-based, manufacturing, and services sectors," dela Peña said.

"These efforts are intended to achieve inclusive growth, equitable distribution of wealth, and rural prosperity by developing areas outside of the NCR (National Capital Region) and other metropolitan cities through increased investments that will support the growing population, including increased migration to the regions," dela Peña added.

Among the DOST-identified growth areas are the provinces of Batangas, Cebu, Pampanga, Quezon, and Isabela.

Dela Peña earlier said these growth areas are good for putting up businesses to help in the government's "Balik Probinsya" program by generating employment for the beneficiaries.

The DOST would provide technical assistance to investors who would put up technology-related businesses, he said. (PNA)