Since the start of President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr.’s administration, the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) has anchored its programs on four pillars — promotion of human well-being; wealth creation; wealth protection and sustainability — its chief said last week
“At the onset of the new administration, the DOST has refocused its major programs to align with the socio economic agenda of the President,” Secretary Renato Solidum, Jr. told the Philippine News Agency (PNA).
The DOST priority programs include: (1) job creation/regional development through science, technology, and innovation (STI), (2) food security, (3) health security, (4) water security and Environmental protection, (5) energy security, (6) transportation system, (7) climate and disaster resilience, (8) human resource development, (9) facility upgrading, (10) digital Transformation, and (11) smart and sustainable cities and communities.
On job creation, Solidum said some 6,962 jobs were created through the agency’s Small Enterprise Technology Upgrading Program (SETUP) from July 2022 to March 2023.
ASSISTANCE to 13,829 micro, small and medium enterprises includes technology interventions, with total funding reaching PHP565 million.
From 2022 to June 2023, at least 57 startups were approved for funding under the Startup Grant Program.
Further, to accelerate the growth of technology-based startups, Solidum said 10 technology business incubators were established in 2022 under the DOST’s Technology Business Incubation Program.
The DOST chief added that the agency also assisted 48 enterprises owned by overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), and provided technical advisory and consultancy services to 397 migrant workers.
Science for Change
TO ACCELERATE STI and provide support for higher education institutions, research development institutions and industries, the DOST continues to implement the Science for Change Program. At least 10 projects with a total grant of P46.39 million were awarded from July 2022 to June 2023.
ON FOOD security, the DOST-attached agencies and offices have various programs focusing on making food available, safe, and healthy.
Some examples Solidum cited are the development of an innovative plant growth promoter using seaweed, cost-effective fertilizers, farm mechanization for rice, the revival of the coconut industry by producing more seedlings out of one through coconut somatic embryogenesis technology, and enhanced food products.
“We also assist the Department of Agriculture and the industry in developing value chain models for food and selected agricultural products with supply chain maps and intervention options,” he said.
Food Innovation Centers were established in different regions to enhance the capability of MSMEs in the food industry and improve the quality of their existing products as well as develop new ones.
“To address recurrent surplus production of high-value food products, specifically fruits and vegetables, the DOST has a program for development of mobile modular food processing facilities. Five mobile modules were established in 2023. Identified surplus products for processing include banana in syrup and arroz caldo (retort processing module), mussels (frying module), dried fish (drying module), and carrot and tomato (drying module),” Solidum said.
IN TERMS of health security, on the other hand, Solidum said the DOST continues to deploy RxBox across the country. An RxBox is a biomedical device capable of measuring a patient’s temperature, blood pressure, heart rate, oxygen saturation, uterine contractions, and electrocardiogram readings.
DOST’s Omic Technologies for Health Program aims at the development of personalized/precision medicine, diagnostics, therapeutics, and other technologies, and as support to health and clinical practice guidelines and policies in the country.
“We have harnessed omics technology to investigate Alzheimer’s disease, TB-HIV coinfection, and human papillomavirus through molecular epidemiology, identification of biomarkers, analysis of microbial communities (microbiome), and pharmacogenetic studies,” said Solidum.
Regarding energy security, the DOST has been exploring the potential use of waste-to-energy technology to achieve energy independence and environmental sustainability.
Just this month, the DOST, in cooperation with the Department of Energy, opened the Fuel Cell R&D and Testing Center in Western Visayas. This facility aims to address issues on energy security.
Scholarship grants for science, technology, engineering and mathematics students, meanwhile, reached 37,515 undergraduates for SY 2022-2023. A total of 2,893 scholarships were also provided to master’s and doctoral students. Solidum said the DOST will continue pushing for the 11 priority programs anchored on four pillars.