SCIENCE, technology and innovation (STI), according to the Trade department, will drive government initiatives aimed at achieving inclusive and sustainable industrial transformation and development in the country.

Up first under a six-year program, Trade Secretary Alfredo Pascua said, is that of embracing Industry 4.0, which includes the adoption of artificial intelligence (AI) and manufacturing processes that can help advance enterprises and industries and increase the share of STI-intensive sectors in economic growth.

The National Artificial Intelligence Roadmap, in particular, will focus on how the technology "can uplift the lives of the Filipino people, improve the productivity of enterprises, and enhance the competitiveness of the Philippine economy."

The Department of Trade and Industry is also creating an Industry 4.0 Pilot Factory or I4PF, which is envisioned to house cutting-edge technologies like advanced robotics, drones, the Internet of Things, and augmented reality for factory simulations.

"It will serve as a demonstration and training hub to accelerate the adoption of Industry 4.0 technologies in the production operations of Philippine industries, especially small and medium enterprises," Pascual said.

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Also under the Industry 4.0 initiative is the adoption of the smart industry readiness index or SIRI. The globally-recognized digital transformation assessment framework was launched by the Singapore Economic Development Board to help manufacturers start, scale and sustain their Industry 4.0 transformation.

The second strategic action to be implemented by the government, meanwhile, involves the development of innovative micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) as well as entrepreneurial startups, particularly the tech type.

In partnership with other government agencies, industry and the academe, the Trade department has established Regional Inclusive Innovation Centers (RIICs) that will serve as collaborative platforms in advancing the innovation and entrepreneurship agenda nationwide.

The RIICs will be virtual or physical spaces where stakeholders can work on accelerating the commercialization of research and development outputs. All RIICs have university and industry association partners.

Another strategy is to integrate trade, investment promotion and other industry development policies by linking the main economic sectors of manufacturing, agriculture and services and pursuing a more aggressive trade investment policy. Also part of this is expanding and diversifying the country's export trade and investment partners.

Other strategies identified under the six-year program are the development of human capital and capacity-building programs to prepare the workforce for the future; the promotion of regional industrialization through innovation and entrepreneurship; and the creation of an enabling environment to attract more investments.

The Philippines has been recognized as "extraordinary upward mover, with small setback" by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) in terms of innovation. This is based on the 2022 Global Innovation Index (GII) where the country ranked 59th out of 132 economies

While down from last year's 51st place, the WIPO recognized the Philippines' ability to perform above expectations given its level of development. According to the GII report, the country produced more innovation outputs relative to its level of innovation investments.

The Philippines ranked 5th among 36 lower-middle-income group economies, down from 4th in 2021. It was 11th among 17 economies in Southeast Asia, East Asia and Oceania, unchanged from last year. Innovation inputs improved to 72 from 76 and its innovation outputs also rose to 51 from 40.

The GII is an annual ranking of countries by their capacity for, and success in, innovation. The latest report tracked innovation trends against the background of the continuing Covid-19 pandemic, slowing productivity growth and other evolving global challenges.