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Innovation hot spots
by Sen. Edgardo J. Angara
16-August-2010 Business Mirror
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The Asia Business Council, in a recent briefing, showed Asia as the emerging center of innovation. The number of patent applications and scientific papers generated by Asian countries, such as China, India, Japan, Korea, Singapore and Taiwan, continues to grow. Taken together, these countries account for the largest global share of patents in electrical engineering.

Particularly promising industries in Asia include electronics and information technologies, pharmaceuticals and health biotechnology; environmental technologies; and nanotechnology. China is concentrating on food chemistry, digital communications, and environmental and agricultural technologies. Japan is targeting environmental technologies as well as optics. India is carving its niche in pharmaceuticals, biotechnology and medical instruments, while Singapore’s patents focus on ICT and nanotechnology. Korea and Taiwan are focusing on digital consumer products, and on computer sciences and electronic engineering, respectively.

These industries spring from the four sciences that futurist Dr. James Canton predicts will be the wealth-creating pillars of a new global economy: nanotechnology, information technology, neurotechnology and biotechnology (“nano-IT-bio-neuro”).

We took this emerging trend into consideration when the Congressional Commission on Science and Technology (Comste), which I chair, constituted its technical panels two years ago. Comste’s panels reflect its priorities: energy and environment; IT and IT-enabled industries; electronics and semiconductor industries; health sciences; agriculture and food; and science, mathematics and engineering education.

Since its constitution, Comste has been reviewing the state of S&T and engineering education in the country, and has advocated and pushed for policies that encourage competitiveness in key industries.

The lessons from Typhoon Pepeng and Ondoy gave valuable lessons on disaster preparedness, hence Comste is prioritizing disaster-prevention and -mitigation programs, including weather forecasting.

And as the 15th Congress begins, Comste will concentrate on leapfrogging strategies to help catapult the Philippines among the innovative countries in Asia.

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