DR. ROWENA P. VARELA
Vice President for Research, Innovation and Extension
The Philippines has recently shown a staunch and determined poise in advancing research and innovation to be relevant in the 21st century. In the past decades, the country's expenditure for research and innovation had been meagre. With the realization that the country is already lagging behind in research- and innovation-based economic development in the Southeast Asian Region, recalculations were made and the Philippine investments in research and innovation started growing. Through the research funds from the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), Commission on Higher Education (CHED), and the Department of Agriculture-Bureau of Agricultural Research (DA-BAR), the State Universities and Colleges (SUCs) have been gearing up to bring the country's research productivity at par with its ASEAN neighbors. I wish to deep dive on the value of research and innovation in the 21st century...We have been hearing about Industry 4.0, Innovation, Design Thinking, Business Start Ups and a lot more. Industry 4.0 is the shortcut for Fourth Industrial Revolution. It is the term given to the current trend of automation and data exchange in manufacturing technologies. It includes cyber-physical systems, the Internet of things, cloud computing and cognitive computing. But why are we talking about Industry 4.0 in relation to research? Because the trend of today's research is to make the outputs of research useful to humanity by improving economic efficiency, effectiveness, and as a whole, making life easier for the global population. Innovations start with an idea, then with the idea, research commences to answer the basic questions. This is the reason why in innovation, we adopt the approach of Problem-based Learning.
As early as the 90's, the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) had already been talking about the 21st century. At that time, no one can predict which technologies will define the next century, but there had been ideas that the increasing interconnection of computers into a global network will transform work, communications, entertainment, and education. There was also that notion that greater understanding of biological processes will help meet the needs of the expanding global population and reduce the adverse effects of humans on the environment. New treatments and preventive measures for diseases and injuries that will improve the quality of life and lengthen the human life span will be available. The cross-fertilization of ideas between varied fields of disciplines has also been expected. In the past, fields of disciplines are silos standing apart from each other on the academic landscape. This has changed in recent times as higher education is growing increasingly interconnected, wherein professors from varied fields would be working with interdisciplinary teams.
Globally, people have been talking about innovation - humanizing the science and engineering world to make things work for humanity. Research plays a critical role in the innovation process. It plays an essential role in developing the design and technology which leads into the generation of new products, processes, and services. The keywords are: sensible and doable ideas, research design, usable outputs, innovation, and interdisciplinarity in doing research.