Philippines: DoST announces biotech initiatives

May. 02, 2007

MANILA — DoST Secretary Estrella Alabastro announced several initiatives for biotechnology and Philippine R&D, during her talk last April 25 at the Ayala Foundation sponsored Innovation Forum in Makati, MM.

On biotechnology, Alabastro commented that biotechnology, if given the right conditions, could produce the next wave of innovation in products and services across a range of economic activities. She also called for an integrated innovation policy approach for biotechnology.

Alabastro also talked about the national initiatives of the Arroyo Administration. She said that the President wants bold and well-funded research initiatives for the Philippines to become a player in the global economy. Alabastro said that a meeting held last August 2006 between the government and the Philippine American Academy of Scientists and Engineers (PAASE) identified five action items. One action item was to proclaim and develop the 22 hectares in UP Diliman as the core S&T complex with technology incubation modeled after the Stanford/Silicon Valley. She said that this National Science Complex in Diliman, QC will cost around P1.7 billion pesos over the next four years. Alabastro also said that the President approved the release of P500 million as part of the 2006 budget to initially fund this Science Complex. An additional P200 million was also released for the comprehensive MS and PhD scholarship program, P100 million for DoST and another P100 million for CHED.

Alabastro also mentioned that PGMA had approved in the first week of April, a project entitled Engineering R&D for Technology Consortium which will cost the government around P3 billion pesos up to 2010. This consortium will consist of seven schools of engineering and computer science, with UP Diliman as the lead.

The Science and Engineering complexes, being built in UP Diliman, is envisioned to be the national hub for the generation and application of new scientific knowledge, she said. Alabastro hopes that it will be a nurturing environment for scientists and engineers from the academe and private sector to engage in multidisciplinary R&D.

For biotechnology, Alabastro said that in 2006, PGMA issued E.O. 514, strengthening the countries biosafety regulatory system. The IRR for this E.O. is now being subjected to consultations and will soon be finalized. Alabastro also mentioned that the DoST is preparing a bill that is the equivalent of the U.S. Bayh-Dole Act. The DoST is preparing a legislative bill to allow R&D institutions (even private ones) to patent results of publicly funded R&D as well as the support infrastructure for startups.

She said that the DoST has around P640 million this year for R&D grants, twice that normal amount of previous years.

The biotech industries, in order to grow and flourish, need the support of both government and the public, she said. Alabastro called on all sectors to work together, to give biotech a chance to provide a better future for all.

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