Remarks by U.S. Ambassador Sung Y. Kim, General Assembly of the Philippine Association of State Universities and Colleges

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

[As Prepared]

[Greetings]

It is a great honor to be part of this very important gathering of academic leaders and stakeholders who are committed to advancing the country’s innovation ecosystem.

I congratulate the Philippine Association of State Universities and Colleges, or PASUC, ably led by Dr. Tirso Ronquillo, for this year’s General Assembly. This year’s theme is very timely.

The global economy is rapidly moving toward more automation, smart systems, artificial intelligence, and widespread connectivity. These huge changes are the “fourth industrial revolution.” Harnessing the power of Industry 4.0 (four point oh) is key to maintaining and even accelerating the Philippines’ growth trajectory, and will benefit millions of Filipinos.

Higher education is central to preparing the workforce for this future. Today, there are approximately 50 million Filipinos under the age of 24. Empowering this dynamic cohort with the right knowledge and skills will position them to further boost and sustain the country’s growth well into the future.

What PASUC has done is truly visionary. By identifying steps that each university and college can take to become innovation-oriented, you are preparing your current and future students to meet the challenges that Industry 4.0 may bring.

Your efforts go hand in hand with initiatives from other sectors of society that nurture the Philippines’ innovation ecosystem. We are proud to be a partner in many of these endeavors. Last year, the Philippine government launched the Inclusive “Filipinnovation” and Entrepreneurship Roadmap, adopting a whole-of-nation approach to achieve innovation- and entrepreneurship-led economic growth. This includes setting up Regional Inclusive Innovation Centers and developing a “Filipinnovation” Entrepreneurship Corps that will translate your research into supporting the innovation needs of industry, develop commercially viable products, or address development challenges across the Philippines.

Private sector partners are increasingly working side by side with universities. Universities are creating knowledge networks, and the government – led by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), the Department of Science and Technology, and the Commission on Higher Education – is creating an environment that enables innovation to flourish. Earlier this year, DTI just established a new Office on Competitiveness and Innovation.

Our two countries have a long history of partnering on higher education. In fact, last year we celebrated 70 years of the Fulbright program in the Philippines– the longest-running continuous Fulbright program in the entire world! Today, nearly 3,000 Filipinos proudly call themselves Fulbright alumni, including Dr. De Vera. Close to 1,000 Americans have also visited the Philippines as Fulbright scholars to study, teach, and conduct research.

Beyond the Fulbright program, our higher education linkages are widespread. Many leaders of Philippine industry, government, and academia, such as Dr. Ronquillo, have earned advanced degrees in the United States. This is one of the foundational elements of the robust and ever-growing people-to-people ties between our two countries.

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of signing with Chairman De Vera a Joint Statement on Higher Education Cooperation that will enable our students, scholars, and universities to do even more together. I look forward to even closer collaboration between our higher education institutions.

To further bolster the innovation talent in the Philippines, we launched the Science, Technology, Research and Innovation for Development program, known as STRIDE, in 2013 through the U.S. Agency for International Development.

Originally scheduled to end in 2018, we have extended our support until 2021 due to the incredible success of this partnership. To date, we have invested 1.9 billion pesos to strengthen innovation capacity in government, industry, and academia in the Philippines, making it the largest USAID commitment to higher education in the Asia region.

Over the past six years of this partnership, we have seen amazing results across the 110 Philippine academic institutions we have worked with. Several of the research grants we have given to universities have been scaled up by the Philippine government. In some cases, every peso of our research funding was matched by local private sector partners, indicating industry’s growing recognition of the high-quality research being produced by Philippine universities.

Through USAID-STRIDE, we worked with 25 U.S. universities to provide technical assistance to Philippine institutions. Working with the excellent talent in here, we have successfully set up Career Centers, Professional Science Masters Programs, Knowledge and Technology Transfer Offices, and strengthened collaboration between government, industry and academia.

Over the past six years, as the Philippine government and private sector have invested increasing resources in higher education and innovation, our partnership has evolved. STRIDE is now facilitating relationships, mobilizing existing resources, and unlocking talent.

One of the key aspects of the STRIDE program is to work with PASUC to strengthen the innovation capacity of state universities and colleges, which account for a significant majority of scientific research and development in the Philippines.

Earlier this year, STRIDE supported the development and launch of PASUC’s innovation roadmap. This roadmap is a wonderful next step, and we are proud to be part of this journey with you.

As a friend, partner, and ally, the United States remains committed to supporting you as champions of innovation that drives inclusive economic growth.

Once again, congratulations to everyone!

Maraming salamat at mabuhay!

Issuing Country 

Last updated: September 09, 2019

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