The Senate approved last week the Philippine Innovation Act (Senate Bill No. 1355) on third and final reading, setting the stage for the formulation of an ambitious innovation policy framework that will drive the country’s economic development and inclusive growth over the next few decades.
“There is no better timing for the passage of this Act than now. The recent economic and development agenda on national, regional and international contexts all have parallel focus on innovation,” said Senator Win Gatchalian, principal sponsor of the measure in his capacity as chairman of the Senate Economic Affairs committee.
Gatchalian pointed out that the Ambisyon Natin 2040 socioeconomic plan, the current Philippine Development Plan, and the theme of the recent ASEAN Summit all zeroed in on innovation as a major component of sustainable economic growth.
“The vision that has inspired the passage of this Act is to finally see our country putting innovation at the center of our national development policies, and making innovation a major driver of economic development that will build the foundation of a more inclusive future. This should compel us to finally develop a culture of innovation in all levels and all areas of national development,” said Gatchalian.
The Innovation Act will establish the National Innovation Council (NIC), an inter-agency body, chaired by the President of the Philippines and composed of 16 cabinet secretaries from key line agencies, as well as 7 executive members from the business sector, the academe, and the scientific community.
The Council will be tasked to facilitate the adoption of a clear and inspiring long-term view of the country’s innovation vision, improve the governance framework for innovation, and mandate key reform areas toward building a thriving and inclusive national innovation ecosystem.
To achieve the measure’s ambitious innovation agenda, the Council is mandated by Sec. 6 of the bill to formulate a National Innovation Agenda and Strategy Document (NIASD).
The NIASD will establish a ten-year plan detailing the country’s vision and long-term goals for innovation and provide a strategic roadmap for improving innovation governance through the creation of clear-cut synergies of innovation efforts across agencies.
The long term strategy developed through this measure will be operationalized through the establishment of the Innovation Fund created by Sec. 20 of the measure.
Administered by the NIC, the Innovation Fund will be used to finance PHP 1 Billion worth of innovation grants to strengthen entrepreneurship and provide support to enterprises engaged in developing innovative solutions benefiting the poorest of the poor.
“We dedicate this legislation to all the staunch Filipino innovation advocates out there – those who dream and believe that innovation will unlock our potential as a nation to becoming an economic powerhouse,” said Gatchalian.
Gatchalian also lauded Senator Loren Legarda for her efforts in spearheading the passage of this legislation. The initial version of the Innovation Act originally referred to the Economic Affairs committee, Senate Bill No. 38, was one of the priority measures filed by Legarda at the start of the 17th Congress.