Ladies and gentleman magandang umaga po sa inyo lahat!

Unang-una po, I really like to acknowledge your heartwarming welcome and invitation for Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) to be a partner on this innovation project. I’m frankly touched by the offer extended by Ambassador Yujuico. Inimbitahan ninyo kami to use this also as an extension of the DTI and thank you for that warm gesture.

Indeed, this facility shows to us the innovativeness of your group, the innovative direction that you have taken. Certainly, this is a direction that we also want and we share this direction with you at the DTI. Seeing the facility also, I’m reminded of the QBO Innovation Hub, we have a similar facility five years ago, I was new then when we launched that unit. That was in partnership with the PLDT group, this is of course, more modern and a lot bigger. It’s really amazing, I’ve seen the facilities, I was brought to the co-working space, as well. Congratulations to all of you.

Today, we are formalizing a strategic partnership to promote greater innovation and entrepreneurship in the country. This memorandum of understanding (MOU) will strengthen the ties between the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI), together with their new affiliate, the PCCI Innovation Center. Through this MOU, we will collaborate on programs that will maximize opportunities and respond to the challenges arising from the Fourth Industrial Revolution

This government industry collaboration comes in a strategic time, given the economic challenges we faced because of the COVID-19. Now, with a much more transmissible Delta variant. Given the present situation, it behooves us to complement each other’s efforts, optimize our resources, and scale up our actions in pursuit of one common goal. This would help us to return the commercial vibrance of our country prior to the pandemic.

In fact, I shared the vision of Ambassador Yujuico, that we can even be better than the pre-pandemic situation and definitely better in 60s when we are number two in Asia. With this kind of approach in development, full of vision towards innovation, creativity, certainly, that is where our country will be heading. This is a vision also shared by our President Rodrigo Roa Duterte as expressed also in his recent State of the Nation Address.

This initiative is also in line with our Inclusive Innovation Industrial Strategy (i3S) of the DTI. Right at the start of my term in the DTI, together with the group of Undersecretary Fita, we coined the word i3S, which really would cover our vision moving forward.

I came from GoNegosyo’s entrepreneurship advocacy, we always talk about micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs), but really, we are pushing for smarter MSMEs. In able to have smarter MSMEs as envisioned, it has to be really full of innovations, continuous innovations, continuous creativity. That is the kind of entrepreneurs we envisioned for the country because that is where we really can see higher value products, more beautiful design of products, including services. That is the kind of business sector and entrepreneurs we should have in the country.   

I’m really pleased to see now that the Philippime Chamber of Commerce, Inc. (PCCI) shares that vision with us and concretely, having this physical facility that will really enable a lot of young start-ups and entrepreneurs. This is the kind of entrepreneurs we really want to develop and for this we really like to thank you and congratulate the PCCI family. Palakpakan po natin ang buong PCCI for this wonderful project.

I must say that this is also global because in our trips abroad. We have been to a similar place. Ganito rin, like Silicon Valley, the different places there, I understand that Miguel Yujuico went to Silicon Valley. Thank you very much for sharing what you know and what you have with us. I wish we can have more Miguels in the country, we encourage you to visit after all of these quarantine requirements.

Again, we thank Ambassador Benedicto Yujuico, his leadership has been key in steering PCCI towards pushing innovation in enterprises to improve their competitiveness and enhance their contribution towards the country’s growth and development.

Our partnership with PCCI stems from our shared commitment to enhance the quality of our human capital and ensure business excellence through developing responsive training programs.

In fact, I think two months ago, DTI, Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), and other agencies, signed a MOU with SkillsFuture Singapore (SSG) to collaborate in enhancing the skills of our people and prepare them Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) and the future economy. Through this partnership, along with the participation of other national government agencies, we launched the Philippine Skills Framework (PSF) Initiative, an inter-agency collaboration that would develop sector-specific skills frameworks to guide the country’s workers in enhancing their skills for particular job roles.

This was envisioned to address the perennial issues of the graduates when their courses are not aligned with what the industry needs. So, the Skills Framework is supposed prepare and empower our youth on what skills will be needed for the future. Definitely, this is something we can also offer. PCCI is a partner, of course, I’m well aware of the innovation center and your innovation drive. You will certainly be part of that framework. It’s really whole-of-nation framework.

The Ambassador also mentioned the AI Roadmap we launched, that is true. This is part of how can we level up the kind of entrepreneurs and industries we have. I always believe that the industries should also have that entrepreneurial attitude and continuous innovation mindset. Part of the roadmap is having national AI research center. This is supposed to be our partner in developing more research work that is AI-related and will be needed in operations of the business sectors.

As you know, practically all operations in business would have a need for AI, all your requirements, whether where to put your next branch, what will the best product needs that is in demand out there. The long hours spent in computing those can now be done in a matter of seconds or minutes in an AI system, that information will be key in really improving the efficiency and productivity of all our companies and industries.

This is also where I’m excited as I spend maybe my last few months in DTI and really would like to launch the AI center. With this meeting, I’m be inviting the PCCI to be part of that, I will be making presentation to you, maybe in the next two weeks to inform you about that AI center.

I hope you can be part of that, because what it intends to do is to provide innovation and AI-oriented influence to our companies in the country and more importantly is that we will make research center accessible to the MSMEs.

So, AI is not a monopoly of big companies. When I talk to PCCI, you always talk about also MSMEs, I know that your concern also is the MSMEs in the region and even in Metro Manila. We can offer this center and have AI products that can be used already by MSMEs, that it is part of the output of this center. 

So, one output of that is some kind of a research consultancy type, it can be afforded by maybe medium to large sized companies. But to the smaller size, there is what we call shared research type of activity and also an AI product, ‘yung mga off-the-shelf, that companies can avail on.

The other aspect of that center is somehow developmental, that one objective. The other dimension to it, is a market-driven research. When data scientists who work in that center will be working on all these industry problems and finding solutions, then what they are developing is market-driven research work. In another words, hindi lang para mag-research but really search output that are really needed by the industry.

In doing that, we will be developing also a huge manpower resource of data scientist. Kapag sinabing mga scientists, the Philippines is known for that, we have a lot of graduates in science, math, and other technology courses. They are really geared up for this but what they need is the experience. Experience to develop and hone their data scientist skills.

That’s the objective of the center and in doing that, our data scientist can now perform more projects abroad or in the Philippines. In other words, it’s a service export all together. These are the projects that hopefully we can launch by the end of the year. In our agreement, I discussed this with the economic development cluster, with Secretary Dominguez, he supports this and our common understanding is to have this run by the private sector. Walang government. Thus, this center will be responsive to all projects that it wants to do.

I hope that you will be part of that effort as well and we will be making in another day a presentation about that effort. These are all important initiatives that will revolutionize the countries’ industries while ensuring important imperatives of economic inclusions—sustainability and resilience.

Once again, I would like to thank our partners dito po sa PCCI. Sabi ko nga extension ng DTI at kayo po ay parang nasa government na rin, although private sector kayo, with all the things you do for the country. Hindi lang po tungkol dito, pati tungkol sa addressing the pandemic, all your support there and thank you very much for being one with us.

Mabuhay po ang PCCI family, mabuhay ang PCCI-DTI partnership!

Date of Release: 30 July 2021