Ecozones in state universities and colleges (SUCs) can optimize growth conditions for micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) and startups by leveraging niche areas of academic spaces for localized research and development (R&D), according to government bodies.
A memorandum of understanding (MoU) on the establishment of ecozones in SUCs was signed on Thursday by the Department of Science and Technology (DoST), the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA), and the Philippine Association of SUCs (PASUC).
The knowledge, innovation, science, and technology (KIST) ecozones or parks aim to mobilize the academe alongside different industries for concentrated R&D efforts and future global distribution of technologies and products.
“We want investors to take advantage of the huge talent pool among students and scientists,” Tereso O. Panga, PEZA director general, said in a press conference.
“If we are able to link [the academe] up with the industries, this can help attract investors and venture capitalists who are ready to bank on their bright ideas,” he said.
“We envision MSMEs to be part of the ecozone value chain, increasing local collaboration,” he added on creating a resilient ecosystem and supply chain.
Ecozone initiatives for MSMEs and startups include incubation facilities and pilot factories for ideas, patents, or prototypes, working toward product commercialization, according to Mr. Panga.
The MoU followed the joint memorandum circular signed by the DOST and PEZA on August 3 to establish KIST ecozones in higher education institutions and SUCs. It was issued to set the criteria and procedures in evaluating applications for registration and administration of incentives to KIST developers, operators, and locators.
In the 2022 Global Innovation Index of the World Intellectual Property Organization, the Philippines ranked 59th out of 132 countries, with a weakness indicated in sustaining innovation efforts over time, particularly in knowledge and technology outputs. Among the pain points are new businesses and scientific and technical articles.
The country’s place lowered from 51st in 2021 and 50th in 2020.
Sancho A. Mabborang, a DoST undersecretary, noted that the KIST ecozones can help improve this ranking, with the Philippines envisioned to be a center of technology transfer and commercialization.
A wide range of unique products and services that make use of local resources and expertise is expected to be developed, Mr. Mabborang noted.
“What are higher value technologies or products that we can produce in a low volume as a result of our research?” Tirso A. Ronquillo, PASUC president, said on KIST ecozones focusing on high value, low volume development.
The first KIST park was launched in Batangas State University in 2020. PEZA board-approved KIST projects include the De La Salle University Innovation Hub, Alta I-Hub, Lyceum of the Philippines University Laguna KIST Park, and Catanduanes State University KIST Park.
Mr. Ronquillo noted the important role of local government units in endorsing ecozones among SUCs.
PEZA currently hosts 425 ecozones nationwide, identifying e-commerce hubs and KIST parks as new frontiers in their development. — Miguel Hanz L. Antivola