My First MAP CEO Conference Experience

Written by Philip Omictin

When I attended the MAP CEO Conference for the first time last September 4, 2018, I felt overwhelmed by the fact that I would be in the same room as business leaders, senior executives, and key decision makers from various companies across all industries. At the same time, I felt privileged that I was about to hear industry experts share their knowledge and expertise. All speakers were good, but for me (and I guess for most of the people in the room), one stood out from the rest.

Giving a talk entitled Research, Development, and Innovation: Future-proofing Industries, Undersecretary Rowena Cristina Guevara of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) was the only female speaker at the conference. I expected her to deliver a good presentation, given the following credentials:

  • Youngest and first female dean of the UP College of Engineering (2004 to 2010)
  • Holds BS Electrical Engineering and MS Electrical Engineering degrees from UP Diliman and a PhD in Electrical Engineering from the University of Michigan
  • Specializes in speech and audio signal processing, time-frequency analysis and synthesis

Undersecretary Guevara surpassed my expectations — not only did she deliver a good presentation, she delivered an excellent one!

She started by enumerating the strengths and weaknesses of the Philippines in terms of the Global Innovation Index. According to her, while the country has plenty of graduates in the fields of science and engineering, the country has very few global R&D companies. In fact, when she asked the audience for a show of hands of those who did actual R&D work, and not just market research, only three or four executives did.

Usec. Guevara then shared the evolution of the role of R&D. In the past, R&D was more teaching-centric — its primary role was to improve teaching and capacity building. Soon, it became peers-centric — it was conducted to contribute to the overall scientific knowledge. Eventually, R&D became society-centric — it is now a tool for positive societal change.

The undersecretary mentioned that part of the Investment Priority Plan of the government from 2017–2019 was to commercialize new and emerging technologies and products of DOST or government-funded R&D. In fact, the government has significantly increased its support for MS and PhD grants over the last 10 years.

Her next slides showed new products from DOST. These included bio-fertilizers and plant growth enhancers; protein-rich copra meal (feeds); agri- and aqua-culture productivity technologies; native livestock pure lines technology; standardized/clinically-tested herbal medicines; medical implants (that are now cheaper and more efficient); low-cost complimentary food for children; new water treatment materials; and sustainable mass transport (probably my favorite), which includes a hybrid electric train that is 100% Filipino-made, using locally available materials.

She ended her presentation with an invitation and a challenge to all companies/businesses. First, undertake real R&D and, second, start hiring MS and PhD graduates. Indeed, companies should do these two things to future-proof their organizations and develop products and processes that can change and disrupt industries.

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About the author:

Philip is a basketball fan and a toy collectible enthusiast. His hobbies include playing the guitar and the drums. While he used to spend countless hours playing role-playing games, this newly-married guy’s focus is now building a family and serving in church.