By Jenina P. Ibañez, February 8, 2022; Business World

The country’s long-term innovation plan will be launched within 2022 as the government aims for upper middle-income status, the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) said.

“(The) National Innovation Council (NIC) is now developing the National Innovation Agenda and Strategy Document (NIASD) to be launched within the year,” NEDA said in a press release on Monday. “This document will establish the country’s 10-year vision, long-term goals, agenda, and strategies related to innovation.”

The NIC, which held its first meeting on Feb. 4, was set up under a 2019 law designed to support research and enterprises geared towards developing “innovative solutions.”

Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Kendrick T. Chua told the NIC in its first meeting that it should help raise the country’s economic productivity.

“Higher productivity will allow us to graduate from our current low middle-income country status to upper middle-income country status by the end of 2022, and high-income country status in one generation. For the Filipino people, it means living without poverty and having equal opportunities to succeed,” he said.

According to the World Bank, upper middle-income economies are those that have gross national income per capita of $4,096-$12,695.

“A strong economic foundation built on inclusive innovation will be crucial in raising overall productivity and bringing prosperity to the people,” Mr. Chua said. “The Philippine Innovation Act provides us with a window of opportunity to achieve this objective by creating a culture of futures planning and funding innovative solutions.”

Under the implementing rules of the law known as the Philippine Innovation Act or Republic Act No. 11293, the strategy document will align innovation policies and projects across government agencies and local government units.

The document will also roll out strategies for innovation programs that target the poor, use public-private partnerships, support higher education, and commercialize intellectual property. It will also include innovation priority areas, strategies and sources of funding.

NEDA said the document will be developed through workshops among the council’s member agencies and other stakeholders.

The council, which has 25 members from the public and private sectors, is chaired by the president of the Philippines, while the NEDA head serves as vice-chairperson.

Last year, the Philippines slipped one spot to 51st place out of 132 economies on an annual list that measures innovation performance, after the country’s information technology infrastructure scores fell. The country’s performance in the Global Innovation Index hit its highest rank so far in 2020 after it made the top 50.

Despite the drop, the report said the Philippines is one of several middle-income economies that are “changing the innovation landscape.” The country improved under human capital and research and knowledge and technology output indicators, while business sophistication and creative output rankings slipped.

All government agencies and local government units are required by the Philippine Innovation Act to comply with the strategy document developed by the council.