How can we make science and technology an attractive career option for students?

By making S&T fun and hopefully profitable.

The new secretary of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) wants to include lessons on entrepreneurship in the country’s budding scientists’ curriculum.

As an expert on volcanoes and earthquakes, we know DOST Chief Renato Solidam well. It seems like a fun and exciting job, like a blockbuster movie.

In this country, however, his profession is a gateway to the kind of wealth that members of parliament, judicial and local government officials, and many high-ranking officials of the central government are supposed to gain as soon as they take up their posts. It is not considered a ticket. .

Pursuing a career in S&T, Engineering, Mathematics, or STEM also requires the highest quality education. This has become a luxury for millions of Filipinos.

Solidum is not suppressed. He hopes DOST will provide more support to his S&T startups, from funding research and development to patenting to marketing inventions. This support may include support for applying R&D results to improve operations and productivity across the socioeconomic spectrum and support for national security purposes.

With one of the highest numbers of Nobel Prize winners per capita in science, Israel has one of the most impressive innovation ecosystems in the world. Israeli innovators not only made a ton of money from their inventions and ideas, but they also made their country one of the most prosperous and competitive in the world, making their country perfect in a hostile region. I made it possible to protect it.

A few years ago I attended an international innovation conference in Tel Aviv. Nearly every Israeli innovator I’ve met with a startup or pitching an idea was under his 40s. Many in his 20s had already established companies with state funding to commercialize their products and services.

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In our case, we have science course graduates who have become millionaires and can be role models. Jollibee’s Tony Tan Caktiong is a chemical engineering graduate from Santo University. Rolando Hortaleza graduated from medicine but moved into R&D, creating best-selling Extraderm exfoliant and his Splash Corp. Skin His White, and his HBC beauty products, becoming a millionaire. became. He then sold the company and transitioned to Barrio his Fiesta brand of condiments. Vivian Que-Azcona, president and CEO of Mercury Drug, is also a UST pharmacy graduate. She inherited from her father Mariano Que, who in 1945 founded what became the country’s largest chain of pharmacies.

Recently, Raul Destura, an expert in internal medicine and infectious diseases, developed the nation’s first and only rapid reverse-transcription polymerase chain reaction COVID test, costing far less than commercial RT-PCR and the first You must have made a billion dollars. Dr. Destura founded Manila HealthTek Inc., which specializes in molecular diagnostics and biotechnology products and services.

Last May, as the country was occupied with general elections, MTek launched a new subsidiary, GenAmplify Technologies Inc. GTI manufactures and markets diagnostic test kits for communicable and non-communicable diseases such as dengue fever and African swine fever.

With nearly 4,000 start-ups this year, Israel reportedly has the highest number of “unicorns,” private start-ups with valuations of over $1 billion, per capita in the world. I’m here.

Yes Juan and Juana, science and technology can bring huge benefits. You can help people and countries along the way.

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The Israel Innovation Authority describes itself as an “independent and impartial public body” responsible for innovation policy in the Jewish state. It declares:

“Early-stage entrepreneurs, mature companies developing new products and manufacturing processes, academic groups seeking to bring their ideas to market, multinationals interested in Israeli technology, and seeking new markets abroad. We provide tools and programs for Israeli companies, traditional factories and factories that are in the process of integrating innovative and advanced manufacturing into their business.”

To become an “emerging country” like Israel requires significant investment in research and development. Israel and South Korea are constantly competing for the honor of allocating the largest share of GDP to R&D. Both are nearly 5%, more than double her global average of 2.4%.

In contrast, the Philippines’ R&D share of GDP is about 0.1%, lower than the 1% proposed by UNESCO for developing countries.

In real terms, the United States remains the world’s largest R&D spender, followed by China and Japan.

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Will Solidum find the political support it needs to significantly increase spending on science and technology, and allow it to drive entrepreneur training alongside S&T?

China understands the importance of innovation and attracts scientists from around the world with attractive incentives.

In our case, the S&T department, including the Bureau of Meteorology (Philippines Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Observatory), suffered from a serious brain drain over the years. Solidum says the PAGASA issue has been resolved.

We have a modest “Balik-Scientist” program to stop the STEM brain drain. In the age of COVID, that most famous returning scientist was a Dominican priest. Nicanor Austriaco, a molecular biologist working to develop an affordable yeast-based vaccine against coronavirus that can be taken orally.

If this effort pays off, Father Nick could become a millionaire like Raul Destura. But the priest told One News’ “The Chiefs” that the commercial profits go to the Dominican monastery and the church.

What are the perks of being a Balik scientist? This program has been around for decades and offers up to three years of research grants, duty-free import of equipment for R&D, and round-trip airfare. doing. In 2018, the law added incentives such as medical insurance, a monthly housing allowance, and state aid for the children of scientists to attend the schools of their choice.

Some scientists who have not left the country believe that the funds would be better used to encourage Filipinos’ interest in STEM from an early age.

Both initiatives are worth pursuing under the current circumstances.

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