Sci-tech, innovation vital to nat'l wealth creation: DOST chief

By Ma. Cristina Arayata

September 15, 2022, 6:56 pm

<p>Department of Science and Technology Secretary Renato Solidum Jr. (<em>File photo</em>)</p>

Department of Science and Technology Secretary Renato Solidum Jr. (File photo)

MANILA – Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Secretary Renato Solidum Jr. on Thursday noted the importance of science, technology and innovation (STI) in "the development of national wealth."

"Since the pandemic broke out, innovation is equated with progress. We need to invest in innovation today to ensure our country’s post-crisis growth. Our economy, to be prosperous, needs to produce greater output than input, and we must have the speed and capacity to shift to the changing demands of the market," he said during the first day of the 7th National Research and Development Conference in Pasay City.

He said the DOST has been investing in health innovations that could provide solutions amid the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.

The DOST, he said, assisted the spin-off company Manila Healthtek Inc. to make molecular biotechnology affordable to Filipinos. The company developed a Covid-19 detection kit.

Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (PCHRD) executive director Jaime Montoya echoed Solidum's stance, saying they believe that investing in diagnostics is crucial in cultivating an efficient healthcare system.

Solidum said through the country's Tuklas Lunas program, funding for drug discovery and development was significantly increased, and more regions and institutions were provided with funding.

Other innovations that the DOST has been supporting are those that back local firms, especially the micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs).

"According to the Philippine Statistics Authority data in 2021, more than 1.8 million establishments were in operation. About 977,670 comprising 90.5 percent compose the number of MSMEs," he said.

The DOST chief pointed out that given the vastness of the country's natural resources, especially mineral reserves and iron ore, support must be given to the local companies.

The DOST has been investing in testing facilities to help small companies be more competitive and be able to export, he said.

"But the investments are not enough. For example, the steel industry and construction companies are complaining that the steel testing turnaround time is too long. Expanded testing capacities at MIRDC (Metals Industry Research and Development Center) and other laboratories are needed," he said.

To support steel and manufacturing industries, the DOST created facilities to support the Advanced Device and Materials Testing Laboratory, the national testing facility that houses advanced analytical instruments for failure analysis and materials characterization.

Solidum said the agency has been focusing on activities that support economic development and job creation, as well as wealth protection through climate and disaster resilience.

DOST's programs also highlight well-being through health, education, and access to water and energy, he said. (PNA)