The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Office of the Undersecretary for Regional Operations (OUSEC-RO) organized the 3rd Quarterly Regional Directors’ Meeting last 30 September 2022 at Twin Lakes Hotel Tagaytay, Laurel, Batangas. The meeting centered on the alignment of DOST Programs, Projects, and Activities (PPA) to the 8-point socioeconomic agenda of President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.

The DOST aims to refocus PPAs and deliver agency-wide goals in accordance with the directives of DOST Secretary Renato U. Solidum Jr., as embodied in the newly launched campaign, #OneDOST4U. The particular areas include wealth creation, wealth protection, human well-being, and sustainability; interpreted through the 4 U’s namely, unifying S&T efforts toward countryside development and wealth creation, upgrading human capital to create a pool of globally competent STI champions to support the national innovation agenda, ushering the transformation of municipalities and cities into smart, resilient, and sustainable communities, and undertaking collaborative science, technology, and innovation initiatives and strategies for socioeconomic development and welfare of the public.

During the meeting, one of the cited DOST Programs was the Small Enterprise Technology Upgrading Program (SETUP) which capacitates Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) through funding technological adoption. SETUP alone has over 8,732 assisted MSMEs as of June 2022.

Another significant contributor to the achievement of DOST goals is the Community Empowerment thru Science and Technology (CEST) program. CEST interventions in the regions aim to enhance the quality of living in remote communities in the country as it addresses difficulties in accessing jobs, health and nutrition, disaster risk reduction activities, and environmental conservation. The program has already assisted 1,113 communities from 2016 to the 3rd quarter of 2022.

Meanwhile, the budget cut on the DOST for CY 2023 limits the execution of the planned PPAs and affects the intentions to scale up programs. The Assistant Secretary for Finance and Strategic Planning, Maridon O. Sahagun, joined the discussions on the enhancement of financial management and the strategic plans on how to increase the budget.

In support of this, Undersecretary for Regional Operations, Engr. Sancho A. Mabborang, is looking to accumulate resources to fund pilot-tested programs for nationwide rollout such as the Grassroots Innovation for Inclusive Development (GRIND), the Innovation, Science, and Technology for Accelerating Regional Technology-Based Development (iSTART), and the Smart Sustainable Communities and Cities (Smart City). The GRIND program will gear towards identifying grassroot innovations for jumpstarting community-based livelihood through processing intellectual properties resulting in commercialization of technological transformation. The iSTART program, on the other hand, impels local government units (LGU) to advance regional development through investment direction, recommendation formulation on policies, accreditation and deployment of researchers, scientists, and engineers, to name a few of its interventions. Lastly, the Smart City program by definition is the maximizing of scientific and technological advancements to produce high-performing communities in aspects of human capital, human well-being, environmental quality, governance, and urban planning. All these programs in its entirety ultimately coincides with the socioeconomic agenda of the DOST.

The DOST and its regional offices, all of which were represented during the meeting, assures the strengthening of Science, Technology, and Innovation in the country. The DOST aligns its priorities in support of the agenda set by the current administration to contribute not only to countryside development but to national growth essentially personifying #OneDOST4U.