Mechanisms for Academe and Industry Involvement in Wireless DevelopmentJanette Toral
[May 2, 2003] There’s an ongoing initiative right now from the Advanced Science Technology Institute of the Department of Science and Technology exploring the possibility for the industry and academe to partner in wireless research and development.
With nearly 19 million cellphone users in the country, Wi-Fi hotspots emerging, and the need to allocate free spectrum particularly the 2.4 gHz, doing a research and development proactive endeavor can help the country greatly, if done right.
However, there’s also a threat that this may just become one of those efforts that dies in the end. During the Academe-Industry Wireless Forum, I highlighted the following points hoping to serve as a reminder in this effort.
1. The vision needs to be clear. What motivates the players to do research and development partnership in this area? Is this a scientific, scholarly, or commercial research and development?
2. Identify your niche. The wireless field is quite vast. There’s a need to have a niche where the earned value will be high. Although academe and government initiated R&D tends to shy away from work that may have perceived commercial value, such thinking needs to change. With limited resources and capital in these trying times, earned value that can be quantifiable in terms of revenue potential or cost saving needs to be seriously looked at.
3. Going high-end. If collaboration in R&D will be fostered, looking into high-end type of projects is also an option. At this time, India has been getting a lot of R&D projects from top organizations in various countries. Such opportunities elevated the skill of its people and contribute greatly to their country’s competitiveness. I’m certain that there are endeavors in this area happening in the Philippines. But as shared during the said forum, an employee hired in such type of work needs to undergo extensive training where the company invest in great amounts before they can be useful. Looking into the quality and content of our computer engineering and electronics communication engineering courses is critical should we really want to be competitive in wireless R&D.
4. Addressing country need. With our Internet connectivity problems in isolated provinces, I hope an R&D initiative similar to FreeNetworks can take place in the country. Although there are government initiatives of providing Internet connectivity to schools, it has to be delivered in areas that badly need it the most.
Take the case of the Catanduanes Internet Network. This was initiated by Governor Leandro Verceles Jr. (who pushed and defended the passage of the Y2K Law and E-Commerce Law when he was still Congressman) with the intent of providing free Internet connection to the nearby schools and people of Catanduanes. Last year, a school from the said area even won in the 1st Phil. Schools Cyberfair Competition local and international level. However, they were not able to join for the 2nd year of the competition as their Internet connection got cut-off since August of last year. Due to politics, the children of Catanduanes have been disconnected from the Internet community. Who can help them? Can PREGINET and ASTI extend a helping hand in this problem?
5. Awakening the information sharing culture. The Commission on Higher Education and various school organizations should foster a healthy information sharing culture. Although one school can be competitive in an area of expertise, its contribution to national development will be miniscule unless such skill and knowledge becomes available in critical mass numbers. Take the case of schools joining international quiz competitions, we often end up in lower ranks for each school prepare on its own instead of consolidating resources and knowledge power.
6. Adoption of standards. As I said earlier, India is a popular country of choice for R&D. Apart from low labor cost and manpower availability, it is also known for its advocacy and discipline in using international standards such as the Capability Maturity Model in doing its work. Academe should train the students and get them familiar with important standards in order to be competitive and desirable.
7. Patent, trademark, and copyright. According to the Intellectual Property Rights office, the number of patents registered by Filipinos is far lower compared to foreigners. One reason for this is the lack of knowledge among Filipinos about patent, trademark, and copyright. Our educators should impart this knowledge to students during the first year of college education and recognize its importance at the earliest time.
The Filipino has all the opportunities to be a competitive player in the field of wireless and other disciplines of science and technology. However, we can only become a country of choice for R&D if we will pursue excellence and foster collective collaboration in our endeavors.
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