Ladies and gentlemen, magandang umaga po sa inyong lahat!

We’d like to congratulate Secretary Fortunato T. De la Peña and the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) on the inauguration of their Advanced Manufacturing Center (or AMCen).

Today’s launch of the AMCen is set to open up new opportunities for our country and we are excited for what tomorrow will bring. With the AMCen leading the way as our National Center of Excellence for Additive Manufacturing, the Philippines can now take advantage of the technologies brought about by the Fourth Industrial Revolution (or 4IR).

The launch of the AMCen—as well as other government initiatives promoting Industry 4.0 technologies—signals our whole-of-government approach to push for greater innovation in the country. This, in turn, will lead to the generation of more inclusive growth for our people through the creation of opportunities, whether through new industries or new employment and sources of livelihood. Even President Rodrigo Roa Duterte himself has said that “innovation is our big push” that will keep our country on the growth path for decades to come.

The AMCen will also support the Department of the Trade and Industry’s (DTI) Inclusive Innovation Industrial Strategy (or i³S), which is our innovation-centered and science- and technology-based industrial policy. Through the i³S, we can embrace the new and advanced technologies of Industry 4.0 to revitalize the global competitiveness of the Philippine manufacturing sector.

And as the AMCen brings in new possibilities for our local manufacturing industry, this will match DTI’s efforts in building Industry 4.0 facilities as well, including an Industry 4.0 Pilot Factory, SME Academy, and the National Center for AI Research (or N-CAIR).

Meanwhile, Additive Manufacturing—or 3D printing—technology will not only boost the competitiveness of local industries, but it will also create the building blocks for a more innovative Philippines. For example, 3D printing can help our Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) in the creation of the prototypes of their products, which will make them more innovative and competitive.

That’s why we need to address the future challenges of 4IR now. Among the top drivers of Industry 4.0, Additive Manufacturing technology is expected to disrupt the global manufacturing sector the most. The transformation of how and where products will be produced is foreseen to affect foreign investments to developing countries like the Philippines that have low-cost labor and resource advantage.

By building our Additive Manufacturing capabilities, we are preparing the country’s manufacturing sector toward the future of production—from mass production to mass customization. As such, we need to take advantage of the tremendous opportunities in Additive Manufacturing, particularly for strategic manufacturing industries like steel, aerospace, electronics, and automotive industries, among others.

Apart from the potential benefits to our strategic industries, Additive Manufacturing can also provide a window of opportunity for the Philippines to grow its base of manufacturing startups. These startups can either manufacture their own goods or support our manufacturing industries through value co-creation.

DTI estimates that only roughly 6% of the country’s innovative startup ecosystem is into product manufacturing. This is due to the relatively large upfront investment, large-scale requirement to lower production cost and multi-faceted management of manufacturing operations. While the idea, technological know-how, and skills are there, these physical and financial barriers are too complex for our startups to overcome.

Thus, Additive Manufacturing will hopefully encourage more startups to venture into manufacturing and establish their own “microfactories.” This is an emerging concept of a small, highly automated manufacturing space that requires a smaller labor force and uses far less energy and materials. Microfactories will become the future hotbeds of manufacturing innovation, allowing a small agile team of engineers and researchers to develop prototypes and eventually scale to mass customization.

Through the shared facilities offered by the AMCen, more of our engineers and scientists can now embark on manufacturing innovation at a lower cost. The cutting-edge equipment and quality talent pool that the AMCen will host will hopefully encourage more of our startups to turn their ideas into actual products and create value for the economy.

As an example, low-cost robotics is now a field where 3D printing is heavily applied. Low-cost robotics technology can provide opportunities to drive innovation and productivity among our MSMEs, especially in the manufacturing sector. This is one way of bringing affordable Industry 4.0 technologies closer to our MSMEs to improve their productivity.

The AMCen will also complement DTI’s network of Regional Inclusive Innovation Centers (or RIICs) and Fabrication Laboratories (FabLabs) across the country. A key component of our RIICs, Fablabs are platforms for co-creation and academe-industry-government collaboration to help transform the ideas of our entrepreneurs into commercially viable products. As of 30 April, there are 35 FabLabs throughout the country amounting to P341M, and many of them are located in universities and colleges.

We should note that while AMCen’s research, training, and extension services can help to advance our industries, we must ensure that their breakthroughs and service are spread across the FabLab network and RIICs so that innovation will be inclusive for all. It is imperative that even our MSMEs in the regions can take advantage of the facilities and services offered by AMCEN.

Fortunately, AMCen will be working with the R&D and FabLabs of a number of universities nationwide by providing them with Advanced Training on Additive Manufacturing this year. Moreover, AMCen can help FabLabs by referring clients to their area if this is within their capabilities, while FabLabs can refer clients to AMCen for print jobs as well.

Lastly, we’d like to point out the significance of 3D printing and how our FabLabs helped the country address the challenges of the COVID-19 health crisis. At the height of the pandemic last year, our network of FabLabs was quick to address the lack of Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) for our medical frontliners by fabricating face shields and face masks. These then helped to fill in gaps while waiting for the production and importation of necessary PPEs.

That’s why as we build back better after COVID-19, we must strategically utilize Industry 4.0 technologies to boost our country’s economic growth, as well as create a future of a modern, dynamic, and the responsible Philippines. We owe this to our people, and to the coming generations of Filipinos. 

Again, congratulations to DOST on the launch of their AMCen, maraming salamat po, at mabuhay tayong lahat.

Date of Release: 15 June 2021