If last week was science in theory, this week it’s science in action. I was supposed to go visit the National Museum and explore the nearby derelict places of interest but instead I opted to attend two timely events.
The first was DOST’s National Science and Technology Week held at SMX MOA. It’s a free event where the latest technological innovations by Filipino scientists are displayed. It’s like a giant science fair. I already saw this event last year but it was only this year that I got to attend.
The theme was Philippines: A Science Nation Innovating for Global Competitiveness. The hall was divided into various sections so researches can be grouped into agricultural sector, IT sector, industry sector and etc. In every exhibit I visited, I can recall my Pisay days whenever we had to present our IPs (investigatory projects). The entire hall looked like a massive IP presentation.
There were A LOT of students. As in, A LOT. I went alone and was glad I did. There was just so many students it was dizzying. Many of the exhibitors were also actively engaging with students so it was kinda hard to talk to them. These are high school students btw.
I got a sense that the exhibit was mainly for the students – perhaps to inspire them to pursue science and technology; perhaps to complement what they learn in the classroom. It catered to other professions too and there were even separate registration booths for entrepreneurs but if there were fellow entrepreneurs there, they are very hard to spot.
I just hope that entrepreneurs and private businesses would also attend the fair. It’s because they will be the ones who can breathe life to the inventions of these scientists. As scientists their role is to invent better solutions – faster machines, better agricultural products, etc. They conduct groundbreaking research reminiscent of our thesis days. However, their study will remain a study if no enterprising business would get it and build it to scale.
If their inventions don’t see the light of commercialization, how can it serve for the betterment of the people?
Philippines – A Start-up Hub
Good thing there are companies like Ideaspace who are ready to invest in solid groundbreaking ideas.
Ideaspace has invested in Croo, a device that can be embedded in accessories so that when you’re in danger you can just click it and it will automatically send an SMS to your loved ones. They also invested in iHarvest, a technology by an Adamson student that seeks to hasten the milling process.
Ideaspace is a startup incubator by PLDT where pioneering ideas are given the chance to flourish through fundings and an entrepreneurship mentoring setup. If your idea like those above are selected in the competition, then you have a chance to market them to the public because resources are made availble to you.
Schools as Breeding Ground for Start Ups
When I attended the APEC’s Startup Summit (Slingshot MNL) they stressed how important it is to create a startup ecosystem in the country mainly in the universities.
Going around the exhibit hall, I saw how possible it is to have a startup ecosystem in the country.
The UP Diliman booth showcased their winning car in a Shell competition and their innovative guitar. I, of course, felt the UP pride but it was upon seeing the FEU booth that made me realize how truly innovative Pinoys are and that we can definitely compete in the global invention arena.
The Hamis is an invention where in order to turn on your motorcycle, your helmet must be in place. The ignition is connected to the helmet. There is also the automated book drop collection where every book dropped is automatically linked to your library file. It follows the same logic as the resume scanner which can intelligently scan every paper resume. PUP was also innovative with it’s bamboo power generator.
To me FEU and PUP were able to identify real world problems and come up with ingenious solutions. Now I hope they present it to Ideaspace and get funding to develop further.
The Government’s Efforts
The government is also doing its part to innovate and provide better solutions.
I particularly liked the concept of One Lab. It seeks to simplify lab testing of your products via any DOST lab. As manufacturers or budding entrepreneurs we need to have a product tested – for chemical content, biochemical reactions, etc. One Lab is an online platform that allows you to see what tests are availble in which lab, how much they costs and if vying for certain accreditations what tests are needed. Further, if the lab you chose cannot accommodate you for some reason, they will simply be the one to forward your samples to another lab but they will remain as your primary contact.
Another government project I hope sees the light is the use of TV Whitespace as wifi signal. I’m not sure how it actually works but the government also has an initiave to digitalize everything – from obtaining records to transacting with government agencies.
Perhaps the most impressive government initiative would be the Hybrid Road Train. It seeks to address the massive transportation issues in Metro Manila. I tried the demo ride and it’s a smooth vehicle. It can accommodate 240 passengers in one go and it runs with a mix of diesel and Lithium batteries. It’s environmentally friendly and 100% Pinoy made. It doesn’t need a track to run into but it will require a dedicated lane in the highway. It’s not yet clear when it can be implemented as they still need major investors to fund the initiative.
I saw this giant poster about statistics of S&T Human Capital throughout the years and I’m proud to say I’m part of the Pisay statistics.
It’s a candle-type ceramic water filter formulated with red clay that filters microbial contaminants in the water making it potable.
Another innovation that caught my eye is this loom. It’s intended to improve the use of local fabrics like abaca, jute, pinya and cotton. I remembered Mr. Kengkoy, the social enterprise from Bicol that sought to provide better livelihood to mothers in a town in Albay by using their woven jute cloth as raw material for backpacks.
There are many researches in the area. So many in fact I am confident that the solution to many of our country’s problem lies in the hands of these scientists. All they need is decent funding to bring their inventions to the masses.
Note: My second adventure for the day was the Inspire Everyday event at the Ayala Museum but I was late and wasn’t able to enter anymore.