STRIDE Phase 1 focused on increasing capacity. Phase 2 focuses on interconnection and collaboration in the context of RIICS and government-industry-academe (GIA). Future programming, a Phase 3, should focus on supporting the regulatory environment of the host government to make it conducive to innovation (e.g., procurement-related concerns of institutions). (USAID, Commission on Higher Education, and Philippine Association of State Colleges and Universities).
For interventions with higher educational institutions (HEIs), Phase 3 should focus more on private universities and small public universities. It should seek to establish regional Skills in Technical and Advanced Research Training (START) centers, perhaps based in USAID’s HEI partners. Regional centers will offer more accessible training and modules specifically designed for the regional audience. The evaluation team also recommends that Phase 3 have a dedicated training program for procurement officers.
One challenge in the innovation ecosystem and HEIs is the suspension of creating new Professional Science Masters programs at the tertiary level. Of 2,296 HEIs, 72 percent (1,729) are private institutions (Annex J, Table 10). Suppose each has its own PSM, as a form of service innovation. In that case, this will likely improve the micro-innovation ecosystem in their respective communities and improve the overall innovation score in the global ranking of the host government. Local training centers, like the START Center, would address the needs of RIICs.
HEI efforts will not be as successful as possible without a parallel effort at the basic education level. Programs for International Student Assessment (PISA) scores in reading, science, and math are indicators under the human capital and research pillar of the GII (WIPO, 2021). There is a need to collaborate with institutions such as the Department of Education and the University of the Philippines National Institute for Science and Mathematics Education Development (UP NISMED) to improve Filipino 15-year-old students’ performance in this international assessment. Additionally, innovation competencies appropriate to students’ cognitive levels should be included in the basic education curricula to ensure that graduates at this level will be equipped with the prerequisite skills needed in HEIs.
“At the basic education level they are not prepared for this [skills required in innovation].”
National Economic Development Authority Representative
For MSMEs to flourish as innovators, start-ups and spin-offs need support (USAID, DTI, DOST).
Best practices in managing a firm after a start-up is a continuing concern for projects like STRIDE. Scenario planning was part of the training at the DOST. DOST should lead these scenario planning exercises in GIAs. Given future scenarios, GIAs can plan on the supply-chain needs of industry, including the intellectual capital that will be needed. As the supply of this intellectual capital will come from the younger generation, basic education that produces creative students and critical thinkers is essential.
The government-academe- industry link within the RIIC will need mutually agreed policy support to strengthen and sustain the collaboration/partnership (RIIC, NEDA regional offices, CHED).
In general, RIICs need more policy support in terms of easing business relationships with industry, cultivating the trust and confidence to encourage disclosure of the HEI innovators that their technologies will be protected, and other transitory issues (e.g., internal policies on timelines, credit loads, proper expertise match, procurement processes) to strengthen the partnership between the academe and the industry. The evaluation team also recommends that public-sector policies (e.g., DOST processes) and private sector/HEI policy harmonization is needed for more effective collaboration.
To sustain the gains in the innovation ecosystem, the evaluation team recommends that the National Innovation Center is operationalized further and rules for accessing the Innovation Fund are developed. This would be a vehicle for the RIICs to develop more collaborative activities to strengthen the innovation ecosystem.
The national government should finalize the innovation strategic plan. Regional-level actors are waiting to craft their own strategic plans consistent with the national plan.
RIICs also need more technical assistance in building their skills in developing funding proposals.
The evaluation team also recommends creating more space for interaction so that actors can practice their newly acquired technical knowledge on innovation (NEDA).
The team found that collaboration is a critical part of strengthening the innovation ecosystem, but STRIDE does not have indicators to measure and assess levels and quality of collaboration. The evaluation team recommends that future activities develop indicators to monitor and evaluate collaborations. These indicators should measure and evaluate trust, confidence, inspiration, cultural similarity, and inclusiveness among actors in the innovation ecosystem.