P1.7-B project is biggest R&D initiative in PH

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The chair of the S&T committee in the Senate has lauded the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) for spearheading the Philippine-California Advanced Research Institutes (PCARI), which is touted as the single-best outlay for research and development (R&D) in the country.

Credit: http://pcari.org/

According to the proposed budget for 2013, a little over P1.7 billion will be allocated for PCARI under CHED’s locally funded projects.

Sen. Edgardo Angara said, “This is a breakthrough for CHED. For many years, I watched over their budget hearings and this is the first time that I have seen something as exciting and auspicious.”

During the State Universities and Colleges (SUCs) budget hearing yesterday, CHED chair Patricia Licuanan said that PCARI was brokered based on the country’s low ranking in the 2012 Global Competitiveness Index on quality of scientific research, government procurement of advanced technology products, availability of engineers and scientists, capacity for innovation and university-industry collaboration in R&D.

Issued by the World Economic Forum, the index revealed that the Philippines jumped 10 spots, from 75 to 65 out of 144 countries but still lagged behind its ASEAN neighbors.

Angara explained that the report underscores that the Philippines still has weak technological capacity.

“When we have weak technological capacity, our ability to innovate is hampered. Our appeal to other countries who are seeking for partners in R&D is also dampened,” said the lawmaker.

According to Licuanan, PCARI will be a partnership between selected Philippine Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) and the Universities of California, Berkeley and San Francisco.

The project is said to be patterned after many partnerships seen in neighboring countries such as those between the National University of Singapore and Duke University; or Hong Kong University of Science and Technology with University of California, Berkeley and Stanford University.

PCARI’s vision is to develop and create a critical pool of scientists and research, address pressing issues and market technologies to other countries.

Under the program, two institutions will be formed: the Institute for Information Infrastructure Development which will focus on e-government and e-learning and the Institute for Health, Innovation and Translational Medicine which will focus on advancing health care in the Philippines.

Angara, who is also chair of the Congressional Commission on Science, Technology and Engineering (Comste), stressed that the country needs to develop its capability to conduct the high-end research that translates to technological innovations and strengthen the important linkages between R&D institutions and industry.

He added that the project represents a very good direction for the country to take in terms of the internationalization of R&D, which could help the country leapfrog in terms of science and technology.

Angara concluded, “We throw our support behind this initiative and hope to see similar partnerships replicated with topnotch universities across the region, such as in Singapore, Taiwan, Hong Kong, China, Japan and Korea.”

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