DOST’s I-Cradle Program to Boost MSMEs, Awards €25 Million Per Project

Industry-academia collaborations are important in solving problems for Philippine businesses, especially micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs). The role of industry and academic research, development and innovation is very important in upgrading MSME products and procedures.

The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) highlighted these crucial partnerships when launching the Industry-Level Collaborative R&D Program to Leverage the Philippine Economy (I-Cradle), according to a press release.

I-Cradle updates the current Collaborative Research and Development to Leverage the Philippine Economy (Cradle) program that supports innovation activities across industry and academia, from individual companies to a specific industry sector with at least five collaborating companies.

With the improved program, the maximum grant funding amount is increased from Pula 5 million to Pula 25 million per project.

The launch took place at the recent first Cradle conference titled “The Cradle Journey: Witnessing Innovative Breakthroughs Through Collaborative R&D”.

The event featured success stories from DOST-Cradle grantees and highlighted successful projects involving women scientists leading innovation projects.

Under the I-Cradle program, industry-wide needs and issues will be identified and the partner university will undertake R&D.

The program will target each level of the technology transfer process – from the pursuit of industry-driven basic research, joint university-industry research and product development stage to the promotion/transfer and adoption of technology.

Science Secretary Fortunato T. de la Peña said at the Cradle conference, “DOST’s support for industry-academic partnerships through the Cradle program was very evident in our ranking in the annual Global Index of innovation on university-industry research collaboration”.

In 2014, the Philippines reached 56th place out of 130 countries.

“Our ranking in 2020 has risen to 27th, proving that the Philippines, even with the budget of a developing country, can compete in the innovation race with any country in the world,” de la Peña added. .

The Global Innovation Index is an annual ranking of countries based on their innovation capability and success. It is published by the World Intellectual Property Organization, in partnership with Cornell University, INSEAD and other organizations and institutions.

Scientific Undersecretary for R&D Rowena Cristina L. Guevara said, “In just five years, the DOST Cradle program has successfully engaged 76 industry partners with 36 academic institutions in 10 regions across the country.

“There was a clear need for innovation and Cradle responded to industry needs through R&D. And this program has reached every corner of our archipelago to support the growth and competitiveness of Filipino businesses. It is high time government support also changes and evolves with the growing needs of the industry,” Guevara said.

The I-Cradle and Cradle programs fall under the DOST-Science for Change (S4CP) program. They were created to accelerate ITS in the country to keep up with the developments of our time where technology and innovation are game changers, the press release said.

Other sub-programmes of S4CP include the program of Niche Centers in the Regions for R&D (Nicer) where qualified higher education institutions in the regions receive grants so that they can undertake quality research aimed at promote regional development with their existing capacities and resources.

Another capacity building program is the Research and Development Leadership (RDLead) program which aims to help develop and further strengthen the research capacities of universities, research and development institutions and other government agencies in national scale.

RDLeaders, who are local S&T experts with strong leadership and innovative policy skills, are engaged to train, lead and support the R&D objectives of their host institute.

Meanwhile, the Business Innovation through S&T for Industry program aims to provide financial assistance to private Filipino companies for the acquisition of strategic and relevant technologies so that they can undertake R&D.

The financial assistance, which can only be used to purchase R&D equipment or to obtain technology licenses and/or patent rights, will be repaid to DOST with a zero percent interest rate.

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