Driving Innovation to Deliver Economic Value

A Needs Assessment of the Philippine Technology Sector

From the Executive Summary

Aligned with the Philippine Development Plan 2017–2022, the Philippines is moving toward an industrial policy that aims to enable inclusive and sustainable growth, building from innovation
and entrepreneurship. It is important to consider this in light of the definition of innovation—the process of translating ideas or inventions into useful products and services for customers.

Innovation is a key element of the Philippine Development Plan, and is driving significant legislative effort. This effort recognizes that various national planning and strategic efforts are all zeroing in on innovation as a major component of sustainable economic growth. One objective is to establish a National Innovation Council, or similar, to facilitate long-term innovation policies as well as build an “inclusive national innovation ecosystem”. The timing of this legislative effort and the conclusion of this study highlights the value of the key findings and brings forward what the high-tech industry sees as critical support elements needed to build successful, inclusive national innovation for economic growth.

The Philippines has been an area of focus; however, the Philippines has a strong manufacturing base and related global advantages that can enable growth beyond other developing economies. For this reason, this study was requested by DTI, and conducted by USAID/STRIDE to identify the innovation support needs specific to the Philippines’ technology sector. As has been articulated, “In the increasingly globalised labour market, the most highly skilled and educated scientists and designers from developing countries are subject to ‘brain drain’ from their home countries: they have the option to relocate to higher-income countries, working for the same giant firms that dominate global industries.” This brain drain is a reality for the Philippines, often referred to as the Philippine diaspora. The United States and other countries like Canada benefit from this brain drain, with a “brain gain.” For the US the Philippines is the fourth largest external source of workers for technology-centric industries including biotech, chemistry, architecture, engineering, mathematics, science, medicine/health, education, and business. Also, although the agricultural sector is the largest for the Philippines, the technology sector is a significant portion of the Philippines manufactured exports, and is also linked to global growth markets.

Key stakeholders in the Philippines have been thinking and continue to think about how to increase competitiveness, much of which relates to innovation. As such, preparation for the assessment was informed by existing secondary resources and opinions of the selected Philippines’ industries as captured by the press, or in studies and roadmaps, and patent data. Building from this base of knowledge related to the target industries, the interview team developed an interview process and framework to probe specific needs and drive for consistency in the collection of perspectives. In parallel, the research team worked to compare the Philippines to other countries on key innovation variables. The innovation assessment included in-person interviews with approximately 60 individuals representing the aforementioned industries, as well as the cross-cutting area of software and data analysis. The primary research captured the perspectives of multi-national corporations (MNCs), start-ups, and companies owned by Filipino investors. As needs and strategic areas for innovation investment emerged from the interviews, the team executed additional secondary research to further consider the most relevant best practices globally. Upon completion of the research, the team released and presented a draft report (May) at the 2017 Inclusive Innovation Conference. That document and numerous related meetings with stakeholders, including a workshop, were used to refine the analysis. This final report includes further insights, updates on momentum by the government, and illustrative next steps recommended by stakeholders.

Download the full report.