MANILA -- The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) will establish and expand Metals and Engineering Innovation Centers (MEICs) in the regions.

"There are MEICs in some regions, but these were put up by SUCs (state colleges and universities) and not by the DOST. The DOST will fund to expand some of them," Agustin Fudolig, MEIC project leader, told the Philippine News Agency in an interview Thursday.

The plan, he said, is to have one MEIC per region. A fund was already allotted for the MEICs in Regions 1, 2, 3, 10, and the Cordillera Administrative Region. Proposal for the MEICs in 10 other regions is still pending, he said.

"(The DOST) will establish (an MEIC) in regions that do not have one yet. For those that have the MEIC, the DOST will expand it," Fudolig said.

He added that there will be no MEIC in the National Capital Region, since the DOST's Metals Industry Research and Development Center is located there.

Meanwhile, Fudolig said the MEICs will be operated by host SUCs, and will be open to other universities, subject to "mutually beneficial arrangements".

"MEIC is a facility that will enable the SUCs to design and fabricate machineries and equipment, supporting the requirements of the agricultural and industrial companies in the regions. Faculty and students can use these to serve the industry needs," he said.

Fudolig added that the MEICs will thus support partnerships wherein research and development, machine prototyping needs of the industry will benefit from the student-faculty's innovation talent.

The MEIC in Region 10 will be a new establishment, and is expected to be operational by the first quarter of 2021, Fudolig said.

"It will be the first and only MEIC to be established by the DOST in Region 10," he said, adding that PHP9 million was allotted for it.

According to DOST Secretary Fortunato de la Peña, PHP 2 million from the PHP9 million budget will come from DOST-10, while the MIRDC committed PHP7 million worth of equipment. (PNA)