By Ike Señeres
At first, I thought of using the title “Helping Inventors” but I changed my mind, because I wanted to write about how Filipino inventors could help the country, and not the other way around. In one of my dialogues with Filipino inventors, they said that there is always one of them who could offer a solution to any one of the country’s problems, and of course I agreed with them. I noticed however that those inventors who made the comment were no longer talking about how the government could help them; instead they were talking about how they could help the country, by way of helping the government. Despite their positive attitude, I could not help but bring up the question of how the government could help them because the fact is, they do need help in so many ways.
More often than not, Filipino inventors would always say that they need help in prototyping and in patenting their products. Aside from that, they would also say that they would need help marketing or promoting their inventions. Wanting to address these issues, I always say in my dialogues that in the old days, it was always necessary to secure a patent for all inventions, but that does not seem to be the case anymore. In my dialogues, I always say that nowadays, there are two parallel races. One race is who is first to market and the other is race is who is first to patent. I always explain to my audience of inventors that the real name of the game is gaining market share because if a product becomes the market leader, it does not really matter whether it is patented or not.
It is generally understood that the Department of Science & Technology (DOST) is supposed to help inventors in prototyping and patenting, and the Department of Trade & Industry (DTI) is supposed to help them with financing and marketing. Even if there is supposedly a clear division of labor between the DOST and the DTI, it does not seem very clear when DTI could already take over from DOST. Many years ago, I used to think that DTI should take over as soon as there is already a patent, but I already changed my mind because of my new understanding that inventors could already apply for DTI assistance even if they do not have a patent yet, for as long as it is clear to them that they would like to pursue instead the strategy of being the first to market. Actually, the DOST could even endorse to DTI the inventors that are ready to go to market, even if they do not have a patent yet.
Indeed, life is a two way street, and that is why I say that inventors could actually help the country, in as much as they also need help themselves for their own purposes. Looking at this from another perspective, the government should extend help to the inventors as much as they could, so that these inventors would be empowered to help the government and the people as much as it could, going the other way. I have always said that there is a technological solution for every social problem. Name the problem, and there is always a solution for it. For example, there should be a solution for traffic, garbage, pollution, floods, hunger, drought and crime, among others of course. As it is often said, if there is a will, there is a way.
With a population of over one hundred million, we should no longer be surprised if geniuses and super achievers are born among us, in large numbers even. In other words, we already have a very deep gene pool that we could draw from for whatever we need. In so many ways, we have already done this in beauty contests and boxing matches. All we have to do now is to do this in patents, trademarks and copyrights that should be translated into products and services. As of of now, we are exporting our labor force by way of overseas jobs. In the not so far future however, we should already be exporting our products and services by way of information and communications technology (ICT) services and business process outsourcing (BPO) services. There is no doubt in my mind that our deep gene pool could produce the people that are needed for these two industries.
I am honored to accept my nomination as Chairman of the Filipino Inventors and Innovators Society (FIIS). For a start, we have already established a working relationship with the Science and Technology Information Institute (STII), a DOST agency headed by Director Richard Burgos. Hopefully, that relationship could be the start of good coordination between the FIIS, headed by Engineer Ronald Talion, and the national government agencies, primarily the DOST and the DTI. Hopefully, it could also include the Department of Energy (DOE), because many of these inventors have technologies that could be used for power generation by way of renewable sources. With the power that they could generate, they could also filter and desalinate water very cheaply, so that these could already be used for irrigation, among others.
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