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For Filipinos interested to learn about the more than 120 research and development (R&D) projects being supported by the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) through its Science for Change Program (S4CP), a new web site is now ready to cater to their needs.
Through the web site—s4cp.dost.gov.ph—that was launched through an online news conference on February 10, the DOST aims to widen the program’s reach.
At the same time, through easier access to the program, it aims to encourage Filipinos to “embrace research for development.”
From Batanes to Tawi-tawi
From Batanes to Tawi-tawi, the DOST-S4CP has established game-changing projects and programs to accelerate science, technology and innovation (STI) throughout the country.
The DOST-S4CP projects are under the programs DOST-Collaborative Research and Development to Leverage Philippine Economy (Cradle), DOST-Niche Centers in the Regions for R&D (Nicer), DOST-R&D Leadership (DOST-RDLead), and DOST-Business Innovation through S&T (BIST).
DOST Undersecretary for R&D Rowena Cristina L. Guevara told the BusinessMirror in an interview through the Messenger that there are currently there are 28 Nicer projects across 17 regions with budget allocation of P1.2 billion.
At the same time, 63 approved Cradle projects-grants were awarded to 29 institutions and 63 industry partners with a total accumulated funding of P285 million.
Under the RDLead Program, there are 34 RDLeaders engaged in 16 regions, with a total of 32 host institutions capacitated in research.
BIST has one project approved under the herbal track.
One of the most notable features in the web site is the interactive map of successful S4CP projects and the navigable buttons outlining the sub-programs.
Readiness for new environment
Science Secretary Fortunato T. de la Peña said the DOST recognizes the urgency to stay ahead of paradigm shifts in 2021.
“The new environment demands a dynamic response in the way we do things,” he said in the online news conference.
De la Peña said he is glad that the S4CP “is quick to adapt and innovate in ensuring the continuity of our R&D activities.”
“To sustain our efforts in accelerating R&D, there is need to focus our efforts and resources to strategic solutions. The launch of the S4CP website marks the program’s readiness for the new environment and our commitment to the continued development of R&D projects,” he added.
De la Peña expressed hope that academic institutions, R&D Institutes and, most especially, the private industries, will take time to consider employing R&D in their strategic plans.
For her part Guevara said: “As the world undergoes great transformation, there are economic, social and technical concerns that need to be addressed. Most of the issues spring from the demand to be innovative.”
“Through the S4CP web site, we aim to widen our reach and encourage more academic institutions, R&D institutes and private industries nationwide to embrace research for development,” Guevara said at the same web site launching.
Herbanext and BIST Program
Among the projects featured in the web site is the Herbanext Laboratories Inc., a Filipino research-oriented natural products company based in Bacolod, Negros Occidental, the DOST-S4CP said in a news release.
Through the DOST-BIST, Herbanext received a grant that will be used to develop local technology in producing pharmaceutical-grade extracts for the local drug manufacturing industry.
Herbanext intends to scale-up this technology in the coming years to allow the local production of active pharmaceutical ingredients for the Philippine herbal drug industry.
Another component of the study is encouraging indigenous communities to engage in herbal plant farming, and give them opportunities to harvest highly profitable herbal plants.
There are currently two indigenous groups harvesting tawa-tawa for Herbanext. This translates to doubling their current monthly income of P3,000 to P6,000 or more.
The project also discourages local farmers in harvesting forest products to produce charcoal.
Pisolar Project and Cradle Program
The Payment Innovation for Solar-Home-System Ownership by Lay Away Routine (Pisolar) Project in Region XI is funded under the DOST-Cradle, the news release said.
A partnership between the University of Southeastern Philippines and LeadTech Inc., this project is working to provide solar-home-systems for every marginalized community, most especially those living in remote locations.
It should be noted that Cradle has changed the research capabilities of many private companies and small and medium enterprises.
As of December 2020, there are 63 partnerships funded under the DOST-Cradle Program.
Seaweed R&D Center and Nicer Program
The Seaweed R&D Center in Tawi-tawi was established through a funding grant under the DOST-Nicer Program, the news release said..
For 50 years, Tawi-tawi has been very progressive in its seaweed farming industry.
However, in the last 10 years, farming communities experienced decline in their income due to issues on quality, storage, trading and processing of their product.
Through the R&D in the Seaweed R&D Center, farming communities, traders and processors will have the opportunity to use high-quality seaweed stocks, guaranteeing a 35-percent increase in their monthly income.
Batanes State College research and RDLead
Despite the challenges of the pandemic, the Batanes State College (BSC) is strengthening the research capabilities of the region.
BSC President Alfonso Simon said R&D is one of the areas that the smallest college in the country still needs to focus and improve on.
He said in a video shown at the news conference that the RDLead could help in addressing this need by strengthening its researches capabilities through seminars, crafting of proposals and mentoring family members, among others.
Image credits: DOST-S4CP photo