The Philippines has one of the fastest-growing economies in the world, with annual growth increasing to 6.4% between 2010-2019. Part of the country’s success has been its focus on boosting science and technology research, increasing the capacity of universities to produce graduates with in-demand skills, and increasing collaborative innovation between and among universities and industry to better harness the intellectual capital of the country’s higher education system.
To support these endeavors, RTI has been leading the implementation of the Science, Technology, Research and Innovation for Development (STRIDE) program, funded by the United States Agency for International Development, since 2013. STRIDE supports key Philippine institutions in the creation and implementation of their own technology-based solutions to achieve the country’s development goals, in line with the Philippine Government’s 2017–2022 Development Plan.
Connecting Universities and Industry through Grants, Scholarships, and Industry-Engagement Mechanisms
In its first five years, the STRIDE program awarded 68 research grants, worth almost $5.5 million, to Philippine universities collaborating with Philippine businesses and U.S. universities. Fifty-seven scholarships were also awarded to Filipinos to study or conduct scientific research in the United States.
These grants and scholarships not only built research capacity but also served as models for collaborations in innovation and helped pave the way for a more open and cooperative approach to research and development. Local industries became involved in academic research designs and proposals and Filipino researchers were able to freely exchange ideas and share resources with U.S.-based research teams. And to further foster increased innovation and collaboration, the Philippine government has also established grant mechanisms that specifically encourage industry engagement in academic research.
STRIDE also established novel mechanisms that enable more industry engagements with higher education institutions (HEIs), such as through Professional Science Master’s (PSM) degrees that are patterned after those being offered in the United States. Such programs integrate industries into the development of specialized curricula with learning outcomes tailored to current industry needs. Companies that have helped develop PSMs include U.S.-based Texas Instruments, Moog Controls, and Knowles Electronics.
To improve the interaction of universities with industry recruiters and to help bridge competency gaps of graduates and improve employment outcomes, 27 Career Centers have been established in Philippine HEIs. Currently these centers are serving over 220,000 college students annually.
RTI Innovation Advisors have also provided trainings in technology transfer, research commercialization, and strategic foresight to over 100 academic and government staff.