Sec. Fortunato T. De la Peńa together with Usec. Sancho A. Mabborang and DOST Region VII Director Engr. Jesus F. Zamora, Jr. during a virtual presser at Cebu City while others were in virtual rooms in Metro Manila in lieu of DOST’s winning the 2022 United Nations (UN) Public Service Award.

No less than the global assessing eyes of the United Nations took notice of the competence of a Philippine government institution in the field of public service.

The Department of Science and Technology won the 2022 United Nations Public Service Award or UNPSA for its implementation of S4CP as announced on the 22nd of June 2022.

S4CP focuses on Accelerated R&D Program for Capacity Building of R&D Institutions and Industrial Competitiveness which is composed of four (4) programs namely: (1) Niche Centers in the Regions for R&D (NICER) Program, (2) R&D Leadership (RDLead) Program, (3) Collaborative R&D to Leverage PH Economy (CRADLE) for RDIs and Industry Program, (4) Business Innovation through S&T (BIST) for Industry Program.
The NICER Program aims to address the discrepancy in access to R&D funding among the regions. Through the program, qualified Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) in the regions are provided with grants so they can undertake quality research directed at promoting regional development with their existing capabilities and resources. A proposed NICER should be unique, a collaborative project between HEIs, and must be duly endorsed by the Regional Development Council (RDC) to ensure its socio-economic impact in the region. in the
The RDLead Program aims to help develop and strengthen further the research capabilities of the academe, research and development institutions (RDIs), and other government line agencies nationwide. To this end, RDLeaders who are local S&T experts with strong leadership and innovative policy proficiencies are engaged to train, and direct and support their R&D goals. Depending on the R&D needs of the academe, RDIs, and line agencies, an RDLeader is engaged through application, screening, and evaluation by the National Research Council of the Philippines (NRCP). NRCP is the implementing agency of the RDLead Program.
The BIST Program aims to provide financial assistance to Filipino private companies for the acquisition of strategic and relevant technologies so they can undertake their R&D. The financial assistance, which may only be used to purchase high-tech equipment or to secure technology licensing and/or patent rights, will be refunded to DOST at zero percent interest.
The CRADLE Program aims to enable technological advancement and innovation of local companies and to support the growth of the Philippine Innovation ecosystem. Through the program, the academe and/or RDI in partnership with a Filipino company, undertakes research and development to improve the company’s products, processes, and services to become more competitive in their respective industries. Beneficiary-companies under this program must provide at least 20% counterpart funding and commit to adopt the technology that will be developed. This way, research outputs from the academe are directly translated commercially to the market. 

Relatively a new program conceptualized in 2016, S4CP, however, made a game-changing impact in the Philippine society especially the countryside.  Led by Usec. Rowena Cristina L. Guevara, S4CP then became a catalyst in upgrading R&D for various stakeholders.

Sec. Fortunate T. De la Peńa said: “With the zeal for public service demonstrated by Usec. Guevara, her team, the DOST regional offices and the DOST sectoral councils, we came up with a program that creatively changes the way science and technology, and the outputs of research and development, are integrated into our society.”

In essence, Philippine’s DOST has enhanced the effectiveness of public institutions in the pursuit of reaching the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).

During the virtual briefer on 23 June 2022, Sec. Fortunato T. De la Peńa mentioned the extent of S4CP’s implementation:  He said:

“The CRADLE Program developed notable projects like the Remote Online Surveillance for Banana (ROSANNA) mobile application of the University of Southeastern Philippines (USeP) and HIJO Resources Corporation (HRC).  The project minimized the damages caused by Black Leaf Streak (BLS), Banana Bunchy Top Disease (BBTD), and other common banana diseases thereby reducing the cost of disease control.  The project with BEPCO to optimize the use of their low chicken eggs turned their business losses to new products with new markets.

We aspire for a similar impact in our current projects under the Business Innovation through Science and Technology or BIST Program.  Local companies like Herbanext Laboratories, Nanotronics Inc., Pharma Galen X and BioAssets Corporation will be given an edge through R & D in their respective sectors.

With the Science for Change Program, the DOST has expanded its public service and enhanced the effectiveness of public institutions nationwide by establishing R&D infrastructures, collaborative R&D, technology acquisition, and capacity building.  Thereby, reducing inequality, improving inclusivity, increasing sustainability, and having higher productivity in our investment in R&D and human resource development.

The Niche Centers in the Region for R&D or NICER Program leads in stringing the innovation network of universities along with the human resources complement from the RDLead program in each of 17 regions of the country.”

Undersecretary for Research and Development Dr. Rowena Cristina L. Guevara, Undersecretary for Regional Operations Engr. Sancho A. Mabborang, Heads of DOST Councils: Dr. Reynaldo V. Ebora of PCAARRD, Dr. Marietta B. Sumagaysay of NRCP, Mr. Paul Ernest N. de Leon of PCHRD, and Engr. Nińaliza H. Escorial of PCIEERD took time to also join in the virtual presser and took turn to express his or her appreciation for DOST’s UNPSA.

Collectively, they echoed the same sentiment of Sec. De la Peńa in hoping that S4CP will continue to grow and flourish in the coming years, and deliver the kind of transformation that the Philippines needs and deserves.

Indeed, S4CP is making science for change because it is science for the people.

(by: Jose Aldous Rubi Arbon II)