Innovation Institutes

Article excerpt

MANILA, Philippines - In a recent article (Manila Bulletin, July 31, 2011), Senator Edgardo Angara, chair of the Senate Committee on Science and Technology, recommended reorienting the Department of Science and Technology in order to promote innovation and enhance the country's competitiveness. Specifically, his suggestion was to "create 'innovation clusters' - public-private partnerships in S&T and R&D fueled by clear and ambitious goals that will be achieved according to a well-defined timeline." I agree with his observations and recommendations.A study conducted by the US National Academy of Engineering in 2005 entitled "Engineering Research and America's Future: Meeting the Challenges of a Global Economy" made several recommendations to encourage innovation and boost the competitiveness of the United States. The study's most important recommendation was to establish discovery innovation institutes on the campuses of universities to link scientific discoveries with technological innovations to create products, processes, and services to meet the needs of society. It further recommended that funding should be provided by the government, industry, foundations, universities, and the venture capital and investing community. It then described five possible types of discovery innovation institutes.One type of discovery innovation institute recommended is an institute linking systems research with business schools, medical schools, schools of education, and the social and behavioral sciences to address issues associated with the knowledge-services sector of the economy. This type of discovery innovation institute is also very much needed in the context of the Philippine economy. In fact, the embryonic beginning of such a discovery innovation institute has started to develop in one knowledge-service sector. It has been reported, for example, that the Contact Center Association of the Philippines (CCAP) has plans to establish a Global Competitiveness Institute to be tasked with identifying industry skills standards in terms of language and other skill sets as well as formulating standardized intervention and skills programs that can trickle down to colleges and even high schools. CCAP believes that such an institute is needed if the Philippines is to maintain its competitive advantage over other countries. The country's business process outsourcing industry is reported to be already the third largest globally, next only to India and China. According to the Business Processing Association of the Philippines Road Map 2011-2016, revenues from information technology and business process outsourcing in the country can hit at least $20 billion by 2016 and even as high as $25 billion with stronger public-private partnership. It can generate up to 1.3 million jobs. On the other hand, the Philippine contact center industry, which is a sub-sector of the business process outsourcing industry, is now the largest globally, having overtaken India, with revenues predicted to reach $14.7 billion and employment of over 816,000 by 2016.The CCAP-proposed Global Competitiveness Institute can be further developed into a multidisciplinary discovery innovation institute by forming a partnership between government, industry, and university. As a multidisciplinary discovery innovation institute, the Global Competitiveness Institute should not only aim to develop needed skills and formulate intervention and skills programs but should also address the various technological (e.g. inadequate infrastructure, low technology input), health (e.g. effects of night time shift), and social (e. …