DOST-PCHRD’s two-way approach to build start-ups and research-based health industry

The Department of Science and Technology – Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (DOST-PCHRD) looks at two ways to fast-track its technology transfer program, thus, spawn the growth of start-up companies by innovators in health technologies and the health industry, in general. One is shared investment in research by industry and the Council, like the Axis Knee System for knee replacement, in which the DOST-PCHRD co-invested with Orthopaedic International, Inc. This proved to be the quickest route to the market of a product from research.

Second, with its biomedical devices program, in particular the Institute of Biomedical Engineering and Health Technologies (IBEHT) at De La Salle University- Laguna Campus, the plan is to build a biomedical device region within the Calabarzon industrial complex in which IBEHT serves as a research and technology business incubator (TBI) hub for start-up companies. Similar set-up for other research programs in other regions are also planned.

On the other hand, social innovations in health generated by innovators working in communities, a regular inventory, documentation and exchange of best practices will be worked out with the regional consortia so that these innovations can be shared with those in similar situations. The Council’s Dr. Gelia Castillo Award for Social Innovation in Health will serve as the vehicle for this program.

On a continuing basis, the DOST-PCHRD supports capacity building program for researchers, project managers and technology transfer staff of higher education institutions and RDIs in the areas of technology assessment, intellectual property policy development and protection, licensing assistance, establishment of technology transfer processes and patent landscape report generation.

The DOST-PCHRD is a pioneer in technology transfer and commercialization. From the work of the National Integrated Research Program on Medicinal Plants, lagundi as cough remedy and sambong for kidney stones were licensed to pharmaceutical companies in the 90s.

As well, the first start-up company out of a DOST-PCHRD-supported project is the Manila HealthTek Inc., led by Dr. Raul Destura of the University of the Philippines – National Institutes of Health (UP-NIH) – home to the award-winning Biotek M dengue aqua kit. After years of clinical trials, the kit is now available in the market and is already used by some hospitals in the country at a much lower cost with sensitivity and specificity comparable to the standard test. Following this success, commercial scale prototype and testing is now underway for Biotek M Typhi Kit for typhoid fever, Biotek M Lepto Kit for leptospirosis, and Biotek M Schisto Kit for schistosomiasis.