INTERNET NEWS, OCTOBER 24, 2003  PRESS RELEASE (For further inquiries, please contact Ms. Maridon O. Sahagun at 837-2071 to 82, local 2102, 2109)

Think globally, act locally.

Facing a tough job ahead, a core group of Cebu-based IT educators, business leaders, and NGO took this line to heart as a mantra. The mission? To lay the groundwork for the region’s research agenda on information and communications technology (ICT).

Organizers, namely the Philippine Council for Advanced Science and Technology Research and Development (PCASTRD) and the University of San Carlos (USC), said that the exchange of ideas from the various stakeholders would give a broader dimension to the task at hand.

PCASTRD, of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), is responsible for developing the country’s advanced science and technology sector, which includes ICT.

“The ICT industry is fueling the engine of economic productivity and growth in a worldwide scale,” said PCASTRD executive director Ida Dalmacio. PCASTRD banks on the country’s vast pool of highly-trainable, English speaking IT professionals and its suitable IT infrastructure in the Council’s thrust to harness the country’s competitive edge to become a knowledge center in the region.

Taking off from a discussion on global and local developments in ICT R&D, Fred Kintanar of the NEC Telecom Software Philippines, threw the challenge which served as de-facto mantra in his bid to use and adopt global developments in “cutting-edge science”, such as ICT, in making local R&D breakthroughs.

IT experts Dr. Delfin Jay Sabido IX, chief of DOST’s Advanced Science and Technology Institute (ASTI), and Dr. Raymund Sison, professor and former dean of De La Salle University’s College of Computer Studies (CCS), provided foothold to the workshop discussions.

Sabido acquainted the participants with the macro-level scenario ICT R&D in the country and shared experiences in setting up ICT research in both government and industry settings. Sison gave a glimpse of the academic scenario, particularly on the CCS experience in promoting R&D among its relatively young faculty members.

Dr. Dalmacio likewise discussed the Council’s interventions in developing the country’s ICT sector, such as awarding of graduate scholarships, and support for R&D, thesis/ dissertation, seminar/training, laboratory upgrading, and publications. She also mentioned some PCASTRD-supported or monitored ICT projects to give the group an idea of the Council’s priority in ICT R&D.

DOST efforts in promoting ICT in Cebu

Cebu, which lies in the heart of Region VII, is being groomed as an IT hub in the Philippines. The province presently has the largest software export industry outside Metro Manila. The establishment of the Asia Town IT Park under the Mactan Economic Zone likewise strengthened the IT sector in the province.

Further, Cebu has an ample human resource support from its huge arsenal of skilled IT professionals and annual turn-out of IT graduates from its local universities.

Cebu also gets vigorous institutional support from DOST-initiated projects such as the Central Visayas Information Sharing Network (CVISNET), Philippine Research, Education and Government Information Network (PREGINET), and E-Governance.

CVISNET, an internet-based network of 100 government agencies, 20 NGOs and 12 colleges and universities in the region, provides a common network exchange point and develops websites and databases thorugh the internet or intranet to its member agencies and institutions. The project was initiated by DOST, the Regional Development Council (RDC) and Government Organization for IT (GOIT) regional offices.

PREGINET, meanwhile, is a nationwide broadband network for research and education institutions involved in the development and demonstration of new technology, services, and applications with connectivity to international research and education network. The network can also be used for other purposes such as videoconferencing, e-commerce, telemedicine, distance education, and disaster monitoring.

E-governance, spearheaded by DOST’s National Computer Center Field Operations Office (NCC-FOO), has put in place systems to enable the region’s local government units to improve their quality of public service through the use of IT resources.

The Cebu-based NGO called Cebu Educational Development Foundation on Information Technology (CEDF-IT) has likewise been at the forefront in promoting IT education activities among the region’s tertiary schools.

In her study on the competitiveness of the IT industry in Cebu, USC research director Victorina Zosa underlined Metro Cebu’s immense potential for development in four areas, namely computer graphics, software development, multimedia, and computer-aided design.

R&D growth through industry-academe linkage

Given Cebu’s IT climate, Zosa suggested that the time is ripe to set up a local knowledge exchange center. “It will conjure growth in R&D,” she said.

Kintanar, also the corporate secretary of CEDF-IT, pointed out key areas where industry and academe can work together for a “reasonable R&D goal”. Among such areas are educational simulations, e-learning delivery and content repositories, image processing, network protocols, system utilities, network management, and control software.

Even the Cebu Chamber of Commerce, Inc. (CCCI) has been quite vocal in its bid for stronger academe-industry R&D linkage.

“Universities (in the region) can help make Cebu an IT hub,” Kintanar stressed as he challenged the academe to lay a “broad, solid foundation for advanced academic research” and “produce quality graduates for local and world-class job requirements”. Reportedly, about 18,850 students are currently enrolled in ICT-related programs in Cebu alone.

The group explored other issues such as deloading for faculty members to enable them to undertake R&D work, sending faculty to graduate studies, forming a pool of ICT thesis advisers, ironing out intellectual property issues, sourcing of funding, and others.

To institutionalize the proposed ICT R&D blueprint for Cebu, the group suggested the formation of a technical working group to iron out details. The setting up of an e-group was likewise recommended to facilitate information sharing among the stakeholders. (Framelia V. Anonas - Email: fram@dost.gov.ph)

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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