Aligned with its efforts to support regional development through science, technology, and innovation (STI), the Department of Science and Technology brings the iSTART program for Local Government Units in Northern Mindanao.
The iSTART program is a DOST-led platform for strategic alignment of DOST’s programs and projects with local development plans, and aims to support balanced development geographically by accelerating regional growth through STI.
Among its specific objectives is to assist Local Government Units (LGUs) in developing a technology-based development plan for agriculture-based, manufacturing, and service sectors by engaging Researchers, Scientists, and Engineers in the planning process. The program also aims to attract new technology-based investments in accordance with the validated plans in collaboration with the LGUs.
The program is envisioned to spur local development through mainstreaming of science, technology, and innovation.
The first-ever iSTART Forum was conducted in June to officially launch the program. The local planners were given orientation on the agency’s Innovation, Science, and Technology for Accelerating Regional Technology-based Development (iSTART) program.
Local planning officers from the provinces of Bukidnon, Misamis Oriental, Camiguin, and Lanao del Norte, as well as from the cities of Cagayan de Oro, Malaybalay, Iligan, Oroquieta, and the municipalities of Magsaysay and Mambajao, were also apprised on the tools and processes for the mainstreaming of STI in local development.
DOST 10 Regional Director Romela N. Ratilla said during the forum that the program seeks to synergize the government’s efforts to ensure sustainable and inclusive development. “The iSTART program stands as a shining example of how science, technology, and innovation can transform lives and drive development,” she said.
The event was also attended by the iSTART Lead Team led by DOST Caraga Regional Director and iSTART Lead Implementer Noel M. Ajoc who underscored the importance of STI as the driving force towards regional growth. Carmeli Marie C. Chaves from the University of the Philippines – Diliman also discussed the PLANADES settlements model for new growth areas in the Philippines, the study which influenced the creation of the iSTART program.
The iSTART Forum marks the inaugural event in a series of activities planned for the implementation of the iSTART program in Northern Mindanao. Engr. Norberto Baltazar, of the Bukidnon Provincial Planning and Development Office expressed excitement of the program, “together with DOST, we must pitch this to our Local Chief Executives,” he said while providing insight to how the program can bring more value to LGUs.
Following the iSTART Forum, the team maintained consistent communication with the stakeholders. Exploratory meetings with the local Planning and Development Offices were initiated. The goals of the meeting were to get acquainted with LGU planning ecosystem, to know LGU and LCE priorities, and to look for possible points of entry for the iSTART program.
Currently, DOST is creating a pool of experts fit for the needs and developmental priorities of the LGUs. This October, iSTART activities for Local Planning Development Officers will also be conducted during the Regional Science, Technology and Innovation Week in Iligan City, and to be culminated with the iSTART Summit in November. (Gabriel D. Andres/DOST 10)