MANILA -- The Philippines and Italy are set to forge scientific cooperation on various strategic areas, and signing may take place this month.

"As we continue to expand our STI (science, technology, innovation) international partnerships, we are keen on pursuing further synergies with Italy. (The) DOST (Department of Science and Technology) is hoping to maximize opportunities for its stakeholders through joint undertakings with (the) MUR (Ministry of University and Research) and its attached institutions," DOST Undersecretary Rowena Guvera told the Philippine News Agency in an interview Thursday afternoon.

The DOST, she said, envisions to further accelerate the country's bilateral relations with Italy, not just in the field of health, but also in other strategic and common areas of interest, such as biomedical research; food S&T; fashion and textile; furniture research and development (R&D); biodiversity for climate change; and quantum computing.

Guevara led the DOST delegation that visited key officials of MUR last April 29. Both parties are looking at joint R&D activities; capacity building through student exchanges and workshops; scientific visits of experts; and promotion of collaboration between scientific institutions and organizations of both countries.

She said during the discussion, both parties agreed there would be no cross-border financing. The DOST will provide the necessary funding for Filipino researchers, and the MUR will do the same for Italian experts.

Italy was identified as among the DOST's priority international partners due to its portfolio and strength in STI.

"(The) DOST has been coordinating for the renewal of the 1969 Scientific and Technical Cooperation Agreement with Italy. Recently, with the diplomatic interventions of the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Philippine Embassy in Rome, we were able to identify and touch base with our Italian counterpart -- the MUR. We are looking forward to finalizing and forging the memorandum of understanding within May, as this would serve as the backbone of our collaboration," she said.

Recognizing Italy’s portfolio and strength in the field of STI, it was identified as one of the Department’s priority international partners in 2017.

Strengths

Guevara pointed out Italy's various strengths, and the R&D initiatives that DOST-attached agencies could learn from and collaborate with them.

In terms of health and biomedical research, Italy has been offering programs that focus on the practical applications of biomedical sciences.

The European country has established public and private healthcare facilities, research centers, molecular laboratories, and is considered as the home of numerous pharmaceutical companies.

Italy also has a highly capable and reliable network infrastructure that responds to the specific needs of the biomedical community, promoting research activities at national and international level; and enhances and disseminates research results, best practices, and innovative ideas. (PNA)