THE state of science and technology in a country is directly correlated with its economic development.
The most affluent countries in the world allot a considerable amount for scientific research and development or R&D.
Most countries spend between 0.25 percent and 1 percent of their gross domestic product (GDP) on R&D, according to a study by the Unesco Institute for Statistics in September 2007.
China reportedly spends 1.3 percent of its GDP on R&D, and India and Malaysia, between 0.6 percent and 0.7 percent.
Japan is East Asia?s top investor in R&D, spending 3.2 percent of its GDP in 2004. It was followed by Republic of Korea, with 3.0 percent, and Singapore, 2.4 percent.
The Philippines is not like most countries. Its expenditures on R&D as a percentage of GDP was a measly 0.14 percent in 2003, according to the Department of Science and Technology?s Compendium on Science and Technology Statistics.
As a result, the country has a minimal number of professionals engaged in R&D.
In 2003, the Philippines had 108 researchers per million population. By contrast, Malaysia had 726 researchers per million population in 2002; Singapore had 4,613; and Vietnam, 516.
It comes as no surprise that the Philippines ranked low in the World Competitiveness Yearbook of 2006 by the International Institute for Management and Development. The country was in 58th place when it comes to scientific infrastructure.
But the future may not be bleak. A string of government programs aimed at propping up R&D just might provide the much-needed push for science and technology in the country.
One of which was the National Inventors? Week on Nov. 17-21. It gathered hundreds of the country?s brightest minds in one place to exhibit their works.
With the theme ?Making inventions work for you,? this year?s program sought to bring inventors and their products closer to investors and the public.
?This was an opportunity for inventors to promote their work. Both contest and noncontest inventions were displayed at their respective booths,? said Dr. George Colorado, division manager of the DOST?s Invention Development Division and this year?s exhibit chair.
Shown here are 10 of the 97 inventions featured in the exhibit.
The device, developed by Malvin D. Duldulao and Glenn Delson Y. Gabriel of Talavera National High School in Nueva Ecija, can use current from rivers, irrigation fields or any water source to produce electricity.
This model can light a 6.2-volt bulb and can charge a 6-volt battery. The generator can produce greater amounts of energy depending on the type of dynamo used.
?Leather? from maya-maya
From maya-maya (Pinjalo lewisi) and papakol (Abalistes stellaris) fish skin, Mariecar Romero, Chen Ramos and Joemar Salmorin (students from Navotas National High School) created wallets and coin purses that cost P10 to P20 each.
Eleven students from the Polytechnic University of the Philippines led by John Paul de la Cruz have developed the cassava-bioplastic-seedling bag, which can serve as fertilizer.
Potato starch as alternative serum gel in glucose testing
Six medical technology students from Saint Louis University use potato starch as an alternative serum-separator gel. The gel is placed in a test tube to separate the serum and red blood cells during glucose testing.
Donna Dane Aldana says the group has decided to use potato starch as an alternative serum gel because it has the same properties as the synthetic polymer but is much cheaper.
Mini hydro turbine powered by roof water
Five senior electrical engineering students from the Polytechnic University of the Philippines, Ma. Cynthia Esquivel, Marte Jay Hizon, Jhunneil Igama, Ian John Bacoy and Abbey Calulang, harness energy from rainwater flowing down the house gutter, more commonly known as alulod.
The device taps energy in the same manner that a power plant uses energy from a dam, or a turbine from waterfalls.
It converts mechanical energy into electrical energy.
The Industrial Technology Development Institute of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) can convert shredded plastics and
styropors into catwalk blocks, planks, pots, chairs and tables by heating them with used cooking oil in an oven.
Plastic waste converter
Jayme Navarro first thought of converting plastic waste into liquid hydrocarbons during the oil embargo of 1973. After the crisis, the abundance of oil did not make the project financially viable.
But now that the problem of plastic waste disposal is getting worse and the need to create alternative energy sources becomes pressing, Navarro's invention could not have come at a much better time. Fuel derived from the converter is 20-percent cheaper than regular fuels.
Developed by Dr. Antonio Mateo, the wheelchair has several features that an ordinary one does not have.
It can turn into a bed and has parts that can be used as dining or working table. It also has a toilet bowl, shower outlet, sink and a strap that restrains patients with motor-nerve problems.
360-degree revolving fan
As the name suggests, it can make a complete turn on its axis. Wilfredo Perez Jr. says he invented it because many churchgoers don?t get to enjoy the benefits of electric fans from the models on the market. He claims he spent almost P3,500 for the big unit and P1,600 for the smaller one.
Three kilos of kitchen wastes like vegetable trimmings, organic and agricultural wastes, and animal manure are all it takes to produce biogas using the portable biogas digester, a brainchild of the DOST?s Industrial Technology Development Institute.
One would just have to chop the vegetable trimmings and other leftover foodstuffs from the kitchen to fit into the biodigester?s inlet. Once inside, anaerobic fermentation will take place, producing gas. The machine can also produce sludge that can be used as soil conditioner.