OpinionsEye OpenerDgte as innovation-driven

Dgte as innovation-driven


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Many of us have witnessed that when local/national governments make the effort to effectively cultivate innovation in the private sector, success is almost always guaranteed.

Here in our country, I can give two examples — we have the “Build Back Better” policy of the Aquino administration wherein the government put in place enhanced designs and standards to reconstruct devastated areas and ensure the survival capability of infrastructure, as well as the safety of the location. This program aims to guarantee people and local government’s preparedness when natural disasters and calamities strike.

Then we also have “Smarter Philippines” venture, the Department of Science & Technology’s fully integrated developmental program that leverages “smart technologies” and innovation. Through the infusion of science, technology and innovation, it aimed to promote development in the areas of governance, jobs creation, industries, micro-small and medium enterprises, farming, healthcare, scientists and engineers and climate change adaptations.

The flagship program for MSMEs called the Small Enterprise Technology Upgrading Program (SETUP) is a nationwide strategy that encourages and assists MSMEs in adopting technological innovations in order to improve their operations, thus boosting their productivity and competitiveness.

However, local governments must start moving from being mere enablers of private sector innovation, and become serious co-contributors, participants, trailblazers, and protectors of innovation. They must aim to become an innovation-driven government.

By this, I mean that innovation must become an organizational necessity for the LGU itself, instead of making innovation an exclusive domain of the private sector that it influences remotely.

To become an innovation-driven LGU, we need to embark on the following:

Partnership, commitment, engagement 

A collaborative outlook with non-government partners must be a major facet. By joining forces and engaging with the private sector, this local government can open innovation boundaries, using its own distinctive challenges as material for more innovative approaches. It must continue to explore new ways and structures of public-private collaboration. To effect the desired change, this LGU needs to remove barriers between various departments and bring them together in the service of a cooperative effort towards the benefit of its constituents.

Culture, people, talent

We must train and encourage our employees to become creative problem-solvers, working in an environment that allows them to experiment and innovate. Creating an innovative culture means putting in place enticements and performance structures that compensate experimentation.

This LGU can also drive innovative thinking in the workforce by increasing diversity, and allow more interaction with pioneering groups through ‘brain circulation’ initiatives such as learning programs, training seminars and sabbaticals. At the core level, the local education system should support public sector innovation, by providing lessons and training on critical thinking and creativity to public servants.

Ventures in digital innovation 

Instead of just using digital technologies to take its government services online, this LGU should identify new public sector uses of emergent technologies. For example, the so-called blockchain technology is now being used in cross-border trade transactions, voting, corporate registration and shareholder listing, while artificial intelligence is being used to deal with several challenges, including transportation. By espousing innovative technologies, this LGU can provide confidence to the private sector to “gamble” into areas where the market is still vague and regulation is still being crafted.


The LGU is the largest purchaser of goods and services. We should not just procure — we have to establish a need and challenge the private sector to facilitate procurement in a novel manner. This LGU, should therefore become a launching client which offers the private sector the inducements to commit R&D efforts or increase investment in an area that necessitates the kind of scale that only public contracts can provide.

Outside of conventional procurement, this LGU must also enter into corporate ventures with inventive organizations and innovative establishments in the pursuit of a “rethinking” of public-private collaborations.

As this LGU develops these four components, it shifts from incentivizing and encouraging innovation in the private sector, to being a primary contributor/participant that drives and shapes the city’s innovation ecosystem. The success and efficiency in driving innovation is the direct result of being an innovation-driven LGU in itself.


Author’s email: [email protected]

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