Scientists should play a role in industry development

In Photo: Members of Philippine-American Academy of Science and Engineering (PAASE ) meet in the University of the Philippines (UP) Diliman last week with the theme, “PAASE Volunteerism to Promote Philippine Science, Engineering and Innovation.” (From left) Dr. Gonzalo Serafica (PAASE past president); Dr. Gisela Concepcion (PAASE meeting chair and PAASE past president); Dr. Fabian Dayrit (PAASE past president); Dr. Richard Abendan (USAID Strid e); Dr. Luis Sison (UP Technology Transfer and Business Development Office); XiangQian Lin (Esco Ventures); Dr. Joel Cuello (PAASE president); Dr. Timothy Eing Ming Wu (chairman, professor at Shu-te University); Dr. Edna Co (UP CIFAL Philippines); Dr. Rhodora Azanza (National Academy of Science and Technology); Ma. Cynthia Rose Bautista (UP Diliman); Dr. Giovanni Tapang (UP Diliman); and Dr. Alvin Culaba (PAASE past president).

TRADITIONALLY, scientists and researchers measure the impact of their research through publications and citations.

However, this mindset has been changing as members of Philippine-American Academy of Science and Engineering (PAASE) have initiated dialogues and discussions on how experts in many fields can contribute to the Philippine Development Plan 2017-2022 and AmBisyon Natin 2040. Their venue was the meeting of the organization at the University of the Philippines (UP) in Diliman last week.

With the theme, “PAASE Volunteerism to Promote Philippine Science, Engineering and Innovation,” they discussed how society can create an academe, government and industry value chains, and research and development (R&D), and innovation ecosystems.

In an interview with the BusinessMirror, Dr. Luis Sison, currently the director of the UP Technology Transfer and Business Development Office (TTBDO), said in today’s scenario, research must give impact to the society through various efforts, including industry.

“In the progression of the community of researchers, first you do research for yourself out of personal interest. And then you do research for the academic community where the publications are one’s impact,” Sison explained. “The next level to that is doing research for the impact of the community, society and industry.”

Sison was referring to the role of scientists in establishing a definite relationship with the industry through the inventions and technologies the scientists produce.

Role of scientists in making impact to society

ACCORDING to Dr. Edna Co, executive director of UP Centre International de Formation des Autorités et Leaders Philippines, scientists in the country are still on a level where they are not as emphasized or recognized as partners in achieving social impact.

“Their [scientists] roles are not yet pronounced, although there has been gradual improvement in the last few years,” Co told the BusinessMirror.

She explained that roles are not played very well and that “we have to rock them [scientists] and learn the ways on how different groups can make the scientists play bigger roles [in the society].”

Co emphasized that as the Philippines pledged to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, it must address the 17 subjects, including economic growth and industry.

She explained that the country’s business sector is “already able to say the monetary equivalent the private groups are contributing to job generation, decent work and employment.”

But the scientists, on the other hand, still fall short in their involvement in society and in the industry. “We need to bring out more people and revamp the system,” Co said. “Scientists should be involved in determining road maps, how tos, especially what technology can be used in this country,” she said.

Transitioning academic impact to social and industry impact

LOCAL industries are very instrumental in gearing the country’s economy toward sustainability. Having technology, industries can propel the country’s growth through the creation of jobs and giving scientists and engineers an avenue for their research to be developed and utilized by the society. But these “have challenges.”

Sison said, in involving scientists in the industry, the main challenge has always been network.

“Network is understanding who the beneficiaries are and, especially, who the economic stakeholders are, the ones who will invest in the next stages of development and bring the technology to the customers and consumers,” Sison said.

According to Sison, the next steps follow. “From your network to your end-users and then the industries, that triggers a process of dialogue, of understanding the needs [of the society in terms of technology] and then tailoring what you have, tailoring the technology and bringing in related technology so you could come up with a complete solution [to address economic and industry problems].”

In a broader sense, it is a collaborative effort because “a single research group can only address part of the solution and that it needs to be combined with other collaborators—scientists and even the industry itself, where it needs to be all combined so that a complete solution can be delivered.”

Intellectual property and technology transfer

IN the United States, ideas, inventions and research outcomes are strongly protected by their law once patented. But in the Philippines, “not everyone minds this [intellectual property],” Co noted.

Co explained that for every discovery, there should be an occasion by which scientists and inventors can lay claim that those ideas and inventions are theirs and “we can have more benefits for the economy, and our ideas and products will never be pirated.”

Through the Philippine Technology Transfer Act, scientists today have the confidence to invest their technology to the industry.

“There is always a risk of investment that you are planting the seeds that somebody else will reap,” Sison said. “But with intellectual property, we are reducing this kind of risk.”

Sison added that, “when we look at intellectual property in the context of technology transfer, it’s not just for the sake of having patents, but it’s for us to be able to start a dialogue with industry.”

It is said that technology transfer is the one enabling component of the act. “The way we prioritize intellectual property is related to having an industry strategy and contacts.”

The Philippine Technology Transfer Act, which was signed into law in 2009, has already encouraged organizations and institutions to come out and invest their technology to the industry.

In UP alone, 40 licenses have already been signed or are in the process of being signed since 2014.

“We’ve been working with the Department of Science and Technology to facilitate the processes. The credit also goes to the Technology Application and Promotion Institute of the DOST for really striving to create an enabling environment for technology licensing,” Sison said.

There is awareness for intellectual property nationwide and certain institutions have been drive for patenting even before the Philippine Technology Transfer Act was made into law.

If Philippines wants to push its scientists to share ideas and inventions for the greater good, Sison said “technology transfer [should be encouraged]. Everybody’s focus right now is to work with industry and then on collaborations that will eventually lead to scale up and deployment of technologies to consumers and then to industries.”

This is the next challenge, he noted.


Image credits: Stephanie Tumampos


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