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DAVAO CITY, Philippines – A key official from Mindanao underscored the importance of investing in research and development to improve the competitiveness of ASEAN economies in pursuit of the objectives of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC).

At the recently concluded 5th International Conference on Public Organization (ICONPO) held at the Ateneo de Davao University, Undersecretary Janet Lopoz, executive director of the Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) said there is strong correlation between the growth and level of economic maturity of economies in ASEAN and their investments in research and development and innovation.

"Based on studies conducted by the Asian Development Bank and the Japan International Cooperation Agency, research and development play major roles in the creation of development plans that will drive the growth among ASEAN economies," said Lopoz.

She added that research and development will lead to innovations that will improve the implementation of strategies in infrastructure and investments.

"We should look into how research and our teachings can trigger more innovation so that we can increase productivity and improve economic opportunities for the larger part of the population," Lopoz added.

In a bid to boost research and development in Mindanao, MinDA established the Mindanao Knowledge, Research and Policy Center, which is a network of the pool of knowledge and information from the island's higher education institutions (HEIs), research institutions, training institutions, and service providers.

"The context is that we now have to empower the HEIs and research institutions in building their capacities to prepare human resources and bridge the gap between industry, research institutions, and academe," Lopoz added.

She said the network is established with the aim to trigger more innovative ideas and researches that will power the industries and economies of Mindanao.

Lopoz said innovation is among the three strategies – investment, infrastructure, and innovation – that is being implemented in preparing Mindanao for the AEC.

In the international level, she said the senior officials of Brunei Darussalam Indonesia Malaysia the Philippines East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA) has adopted the Socio-Cultural and Education Pillar in 2014 in their view of the recognition that innovation is a very important strategy to prepare their economies for the ASEAN Integration.

BIMP-EAGA is an economic cooperation formally created to spur development in the lagging sub-economies of the member countries by boosting intra-EAGA trade, tourism, and investments

"With the changing landscape, we hope to see empowered and synchronized higher economic, learning, and research institutions that provide innovative researches and business models designed to increase competitiveness and prepare the ASEAN economies for the much anticipated integration," said Lopoz.

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