Philippines rises to 50th most innovative nation in the 2020 Global Innovation Index

The Philippines moves up four places in the 2020 Global Innovation Index (GII), among the 131 economies in the world.    The country improved from its 54th place last year.  Among the 29 economies that belong to the lower middle-income countries, the Philippines managed to reach the 4th place and ranks 11th among the 17 economies in South East Asia, East Asia, and Oceania.  The Philippines performed well along with the innovation achievers like China, Vietnam and India in the overall GII innovation ranking over the given period.

The country’s latest performance in the GII is a testament to its continuous commitment to innovation since 2014 when it ranked 100th place. The Philippines moved up by 50 notches in just 6 years.

DOST Secretary Fortunato T. de la Peña, one of the authors featured in the GII 2020, took note of the country’s GII ranking and stated, “The strategy of putting innovation at the center stage of our policy-making initiatives fortified our capacity as a country to be strong, resilient and adaptable to change.  Even with the problems brought by COVID-19, we have shown that innovation through R&D is the key to survival and success in the new environment.”

The GII is jointly developed by Cornell University, INSEAD, and the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), a specialized agency of the United Nations.  This year, the 13th edition of the GII is themed: “Who Will Finance Innovation?”

The GII has two sub-indices: Innovation Input and Innovation Output. The Philippine ranking in Innovation Input rose to 70 in 2020, from 76 in 2019 and 86 in 2018. This can be attributed to the increasing investment of the government in Research and Development (R&D). The country also improved in Innovation Output scoring at 41 this year compared to 42 and 68 in 2019 and 2018 respectively. The boost can be attributed to the capacity build-up of Science and Technology (S&T) human resource, establishment of innovation facilities such as research centers, advanced laboratories, and networking thereof.

A look at the Global Innovation Index shows the sustained growth of the innovation level of the country.   For 2020, the Philippines scored above average in almost all innovation dimensions, a result of various DOST contributions to Inclusive Innovation from Filipinnovation since 2007 where the whole-of-government approach (WOGA) to inclusive innovation was jointly decided by DOST, Department of Trade and Industry, the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA), together with representatives from the academe, industry and civil society organizations.  To further support national development and sustainable economic growth, WOGA is again applied in creating the Philippine Innovation Act in 2019.

The Philippine ranking stands out even against the achievements of high-income economies for the innovativeness of its business sector and investments. The country reached high ranks in Knowledge Absorption at 7th in the world with top marks in high tech imports and research talents.

Since 2007, the DOST-Science Education Institute (SEI) has been implementing two graduate scholarship programs for science and engineering called the Accelerated Science and Technology Human Resource Development Program (ASTHRDP) and the Engineering Research and Development for Technology (ERDT). Starting from just 17 graduates in 2008, DOST-SEI has produced 400 to 500 MS and PhD graduates per year in the last four years. The Balik Scientist Program or BSP is another program that highly contributed to the country’s innovation. This program facilitates Filipino experts working abroad to return to the Philippines and share their expertise with students, teachers and local industry players.

The result of these efforts is evidenced on the country’s innovation profile showing top 25 rankings for indicators such as Graduates in science and engineering, Market capitalization, Research talent in business enterprises and High-technology manufacturing.

The DOST-Science for Change Program (S4CP) took the lead in government programs in funding innovation efforts through massive increase in investments in Science and Technology (S&T) Human Resource and Development (HRD) and Research and Development (R&D) projects.  The S4CP sub-program created to accelerate STI in the country to keep up with global developments is known as the Niche Centers in the Regions for R&D Program (NICER) which provides grants to academic institutions in the regions to catalyze and promote regional economic development.  As of August 2020, DOST has established 23 NICERs in 16 regions for a total funding of P852 million. The Centers cover the priority areas/commodity/product in Agriculture, Aquatic and Marine, Environment, Industry, Energy, Emerging Technology and Health.

Under the Business Sophistication Pillar, the Philippines also made a significant score in university and industry research collaborations.  This can be attributed to another S4C Program dubbed as Collaborative Research and Development to Leverage Philippine Economy (CRADLE). The sub-program encourages academe-industry collaborations to conduct research. To date, the program has forged 49 partnerships with P222 million total grants awarded to 32 academe and 50 industry partners.  As a continuing initiative, DOST is advocating for the passage of the S4CP Bill in both Houses of Congress.  This bill is geared towards further accelerating STI in the country and create a massive increase in investment on S&T Human Resource Development and R&D.

“R&D programs such as Science for Change provides an enabling platform where government, academic, and industry players in the country collectively pursue market-oriented research that directly addresses the needs of specific sectors,” says DOST- Undersecretary for R&D Rowena Cristina L. Guevara.  “With the high marks achieved by our country in the latest GII, R&D provides us the opportunity to change and mold the shape of our country’s recovery from the pandemic.”


iFWD PH Program Graduation Ceremonies

The Department of Science and Technology (DOST), through the DOST-National Capital Region (DOST-NCR) under the leadership of Regional Director Jose B. Patalinjug III, will hold the Graduation Ceremonies of the OFW beneficiaries of the Phase 1 of the Innovations for Filipinos Working Distantly from the Philippines or “iFWD PH” Program on 30 October 2020 at 9:00AM via Zoom teleconferencing and DOST-Philippines FB page.

The iFWD PH is a program initiated by the DOST to empower returning Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) who would like to settle permanently in the country, particularly in their respective provinces/regions, and equip them with the needed skills and expertise to put up their own startup technology-based companies. The Program provides technical and financial assistance in collaboration with the Office of the Presidential Advisor on Overseas Filipino Workers (OPA-OFW), Overseas Workers Welfare Association (OWWA), and Entrepinoy Volunteers Foundation, Inc. (EVFI).

In the past three months, Overseas Filipino Workers enrolled in the Program have been exposed to different TeknoLokal or DOST Technology Pitching sessions, and TeknoKonsultasyon or Technical Advisory meetings with our experts from the various DOST Research and Development Institutes (RDIs).

Moreover, thirteen (13) Core Business Development modules for Paano Ba Mag-Negosyo Sessions were already provided to develop key skills in conceptualizing and establishing technology-based businesses. This is part of Phase 1 of the Program or the Capacity Building for the Development and Management of Technology-Based Enterprise.

Completion for Phase 1 is a prerequisite for Phase 2 or the Innovation Funding for Technology-Based Enterprise. This phase is the funding component of the Program which will provide innovation funding support to OFW-owned and managed enterprises.

Overall, there were a total of 59 OFW graduates from Phase 1 of the Program. These graduates will be endorsed to the DOST Regional Offices for the application to Phase 2.

As the DOST continues to encourage more returning OFWs to venture into entrepreneurship that will spur economic activities in the regions, the application for the next batch for iFWD PH Phase 1 will be opened early next year.

For more information, please contact DOST-NCR through telephone numbers 8519 8702 or 09666344790, or through email at and visit their website at


4th Indie-Siyensya promotes science through film
By Marco D. Melgar, DOST-SEI
 With a lineup of finalists that effectively portrayed the contest theme, “Communities Beyond the Naked Eye,” determining the best films of the 4th Indie-Siyensya Filmmaking Competition was surely a tough task for the Board of Judges. In the end, though, the title of Best Film for the Open and Youth Categories was conferred to entries that went beyond the criteria of scientific content, idea execution, and film technique.

The judges referred to the fourth criterion as “impact.”

For this reason, the films “Into the Minuscule World of Ants” by Heinrich Domingo of Quezon, Isabela and “Sansala” by Cyah Angela Somblingo of the youth organization Focus Cavite were hailed as the Best Films in the Open and Youth Categories, respectively.

These two creative filmmakers won against a total of 23 entries in the Open Category and 55 entries in the Youth Group Category.

Because of the pandemic, the victors were given their recognition on 30 September 2020 in an online awarding ceremony that premiered live at the Department of Science and Technology – Science Education Institute’s (DOST-SEI) social media page. 
Open Category

Film still from “Into the Minuscule World of Ants”

The film titled “Into the Minuscule World of Ants” documents the growing ant-keeping community in the Philippines led by Youtube personality, Mikey Bustos, who has 3.3 million subscribers. Filmmaker, Domingo, said that making the film made him realize there are many scientific groups and communities that are not popularly shown in the media.

“My exposure to the ant-keeping community showed me that there are hundreds of Filipinos venturing into scientific fields like biology that remain unseen. Also, shooting this documentary film made me see the alternative avenues where science is learned” he said.

He said he feels honored to have competed against great filmmakers with equally interesting tales and narratives, and that the win will inspire him to make more films.

“Our communities are filled with stories that need to be told. We do not need to chase stories. Instead, our local tales and narratives are more than enough to make captivating films.” said Domingo who earned a cash prize of PhP 100,000 and a trophy.

The second place in the Open Category was the film titled “Pauwikan,” a documentary about the nature and diversity of the turtle sanctuary in San Juan, La Union done by Gerylle Vanmarie Palabay of the Film & Media Arts International Academy. The entry won PhP 50,000.

Incidentally, Palabay’s “Pauwikan” also secured the Viewers’ Choice Award for receiving the highest number of votes during the film screenings. The film got the PhP 20,000 cash prize for this special award.

The third best film went to Edward Laurence Opena of Opena Cinematics / Cebu Normal University for his film, “The Man Who Talks to Fishes,” that narrates how a man enabled the Gilutongan Marine Sanctuary to become one of the country’s top marine sanctuaries. The third winner was awarded PhP 30,000.

Youth Category

In the Youth Category, winning film “Sansala” tackles microplastic pollution in the locale of Dalahican, Cavite City. The documentary film explores how microplastics gravely affect the environment and the people relying on the sea for their livelihood.

The young filmmaker, Cyah Angela Somblingo, who is a second-timer in the competition, referred to the win as their team’s “comeback victory” after placing second last year for their film, “Lambat.” This time, they bagged the PhP 100,000 cash prize and the top trophy.

“This year was our comeback victory where we were able to finally get a hold of the title. Making a film alone and entering it in a competition is already a milestone for amateurs like us, and this victory was more than enough to stir our passion in filming,” Somblingo said.

Film still from “Sansala”
 The team considered this opportunity to echo to the residents of Dalahican the results of their microplastic experiment done during the making of the film as their most memorable experience.

“Educating people is something that we really enjoy. And being able to reach the hearts of thousands of people through a single film was like living a dream,” she added.

Completing the Top 3 in the Youth Category were the films “Sisto” by Ma. Diana Balansag from Bukidnon National School of Home Industries at second place and “Beyond: Escherichia coli” by Juliana Milanbilen from Tagaytay City Science National High School was adjudged third place.

“Sisto” depicts the problems encountered by the people of Barangay San Miguel in Maramag, Bukidnon with the Schistosomiasis disease, while “Beyond: Escherichia coli” tackles the unseen community of the E.Coli bacteria and its nature. The films won PhP 50,000 and PhP 30,000 cash prizes, respectively.

DOST-SEI Director, Dr. Josette Biyo, congratulated the winners and finalists for taking the competition to a higher level with the much-improved quality and messaging.

“We’re very happy with the films we received this year and we’re especially impressed by how they tell their stories effectively and in a manner that does not stay away from science,” Biyo said. “We envision our scientists to be able to communicate their works effectively and film is definitely a great platform. For this, we’re very proud of our contestants.”

This year’s Board of Judges include Dr. Garry Jay Montemayor of the College of Development Communication, University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB); Director Seymour Sanchez from the De La Salle-College of Saint and Far Eastern University; Prof. Patrick Campos, Director of the UP Film Institute; renowned entomologist, Dr. Aimee Lynn Dupo of the UPLB Museum of Natural History, and Dr. Ruby Cristobal of DOST-SEI.

Indie-Siyensya, now on its fourth-year run, remains one of DOST-SEI’s main platforms to promote a culture of science in the country. The competition is also the agency’s response to the growing field of science communicators that use film as a medium of information dissemination and a creative way to effect behavior change.