Balik Scientist Law to benefit MSMEs — Dela Peña
Rainier Allan Ronda (The Philippine Star) - August 9, 2018 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Science Secretary Fortunato dela Peña said that the expertise of overseas-based Filipino scientists being brought back under the Balik Scientist Program (BSP) could be lent to micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) and technology startups.

In a press conference to open the National S&T Week 2018 at the World Trade Center in Pasay City recently, Dela Peña said that the overseas-based Filipino scientists can help MSMEs and tech startups improve their efficiency, pursue innovation, and conduct research and development that could result in new products.

“We want to explore that option,” Dela Peña told The STAR in an interview.

Currently, the Department of Science and Technology deploys BSP scientists to state universities and colleges (SUCs) and private higher educational institutions (HEIs), as well as to various research and development institutions (RDIs) to help these embark on bigger and better R&D projects.

The BSP is being expanded by the DOST after the signing of Republic Act No. 11035 or the Balik Scientist Law by President Duterte last June 15, which allows DOST to  give more incentives to returning Filipino experts, scientists, inventors and engineers even for a limited time to share their expertise in the country.

Dela Peña earlier said that from the current 40 scientists to be brought back home for short- to medium term deployment this 2018, the DOST plans to increase the number by half or 20 next year, and another 20 by 2020.

With the increase in number of homeward bound scientists, Dela Peña said the DOST could assign them to MSMEs and tech startups during their service here.

RA 11035 institutionalized the DOST’s Balik Scientist Program which was first established in 1975 through Presidential Decree No. 819 but was only implemented in 1986. 

Since its implementation, several scientists have come back to the country on short- and long-term basis to mentor science and engineering students and faculty along their line of expertise through research and development, teaching and other activities. This sharing of expertise significantly contributed to the acceleration of the scientific, agro-industrial and economic development.

Through the Balik Scientist Law, a returning scientist can participate in DOST’s Grants-in-Aid research and development. A grant may be provided to the balik scientist and released through the host institution for the implementation of the project in accordance with relevant government regulations and the need of the program involved. 

A balik scientist can also enjoy various compensations that include tax and duty exemptions to importation of professional equipment and materials, free medical and accident insurance covering the award period, reimbursement of expenses for baggage related to scientific projects, and even exemption from “renouncing their oath of allegiance to the country where they took the oath.”

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