DOST adopting two-way approach to build health startups in PH

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The Department of Science and Technology – Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (DOST-PCHRD) said it is looking at two ways to fast-track its technology transfer program to spur the growth of health startups in the country.

The first approach is shared investment in research by industry and the PCHRD like the Axis Knee System for knee replacement, in which the PCHRD co-invested with Orthopaedic International. This proved to be the quickest route to the market of a product from research.

The second approach, with its biomedical devices program, in particular the Institute of Biomedical Engineering and Health Technologies (IBEHT) at De La Salle University- Laguna Campus, the plan is to build a biomedical device region within the Calabarzon industrial complex in which IBEHT serves as a research and technology business incubator (TBI) hub for start-up companies. A similar set-up for other research programs in other regions is also planned.

On the other hand, social innovations in health generated by innovators working in communities, a regular inventory, documentation and exchange of best practices will be worked out with the regional consortia so that these innovations can be shared with those in similar situations.

The PCHRD’s Dr. Gelia Castillo Award for Social Innovation in Health will serve as the vehicle for this program.

On a continuing basis, the DOST-PCHRD supports capacity building program for researchers, project managers, and technology transfer staff of higher education institutions and RDIs in the areas of technology assessment, intellectual property policy development and protection, licensing assistance, establishment of technology transfer processes, and patent landscape report generation.

The first start-up company out of a DOST-PCHRD-supported project is the Manila HealthTek, led by Dr. Raul Destura of the University of the Philippines – National Institutes of Health (UP-NIH) – home to the award-winning Biotek M dengue aqua kit.

After years of clinical trials, the kit is now available in the market and is already used by some hospitals in the country at a much lower cost with sensitivity and specificity comparable to the standard test.

Following this success, commercial scale prototype and testing is now underway for Biotek M Typhi Kit for typhoid fever, Biotek M Lepto Kit for leptospirosis, and Biotek M Schisto Kit for schistosomiasis.

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