This, from yesterday's BusinessWorld Online*

RP positions as region’s innovation hub

THE PHILIPPINES is positioning itself as Asia’s innovation hub that can be competitive with the rest of the world, by institutionalizing a culture of innovation across multiple sectors.

The country’s positioning strategy is embodied in an 18-page document summarizing the country’s National Innovation Strategy which was launched yesterday at the country’s first National Innovation Summit, a product of months of collaboration among government, business, academe and civil society.

The document, entitled "Filipinnovation," was presented by summit organizers yesterday to President Gloria M. Arroyo, who symbolically launched the strategy with a 3D presentation similar to popular game Second Life. "Filipinnovation" is also the brand for the country as it aims to compete with Asian neighbors and other regions.

(note: "3D presentation similar to popular game Second Life" -really?)

"‘Filipinnovation’ brings forward a distinct brand for the Philippines as an Asian innovation hub, different [from] — yet as competitive as — its Asian neighbors and striving to be at part with leading innovation regions such as North America and Europe," the document read.

At least you've got to hand it to the proponents for innovating a monicker. "Filipinnovation" -takes a while to get it to roll off your tongue.

There is a "four-point national innovation strategy " that focuses on
  • strengthening human capital, from primary to advanced learning;
  • supporting business incubation and acceleration efforts;
  • regenerating the innovation environment mainly through policy; and
  • promoting a culture of innovation by upgrading the Filipino mindset
So what do I think is missing? Anyone, anyone? (Hint: I talk about it a lot in this blog.)

CITIES! You cannot be a "hub" without thinking of the physical. Place is important to culture and to innovation.

The data is clear on this: cities are centers of innovation. So if you want to promote a "culture of innovation, " you've got to work on your cities.

Here's a pdf (52 kb) copy of a report by Forman, Goldfarb and Greenstein on why innovation happens better in cities. They show that:
"establishments located in large urban areas innovate as if they face fewer constraints and have lower costs. We also find a symmetric role for internal capabilities: establishments that are in firms with a greater number of IT personnel invested in WEI technology more frequently, as did those with prior experience with related non-Internet applications. Overall, we conclude that the marginal contribution of internal capabilities to investment and co-invention in a process innovation is lower for establishments in cities than for establishments elsewhere."
Cities also increase productivity. CEOsforCities cites this article in Psychology Today that says:

For every doubling in city size, there's a 14 to 27 percent increase in productivity per worker, and psychologists and others are trying to explain why. They believe the gains "can be linked to having more and different people to meet, and more meeting places—parks, coffee shops, parties, or simply the sidewalk...

"City dwellers have more places to hang out, and they tend to know more people. Meredith Rolfe, a political sociologist at Oxford, studies social networks through large-sample surveys. While there are only small variations in the numbers of close friends people report having, she's found that 'acquaintance networks'—the so-called 'weak ties' that are most helpful in finding a job or stock tip—range wildly in size, from 500 to 10,000, depending in part on methodology and in part on whether a person lives in a city."

Promoting a culture of innovation is the right goal, but to think it's all about "changing culture" is mistaken. Culture arises from place and interaction. The culture of innovation grows best in the city.

Pay attention to place first, create the scene -and then the magic happens.

(Also check out this excellent presentation from Joseph Cortright on why cities should focus on innovation as a driver for growth.)

* -Btw, BW's finally seen the light and their online content is available for free!

Image credit: "Just full of ideas" by Cayusa


Peter said...

I was reading this article this morning and thinking: spin hehe.

Urbano dela Cruz said...


are you saying our government agencies create high sounding programs that are more public relations than actual action agendas?

I'm shocked! Shocked, I say!

Marky said...

the lower and lower middle class are unable to be more innovative because they are too busy about surviving city infrastructure like transportation unlike the wealthy guys who drives and even have drivers. Three or more hours daily is wasted... too much energy is drained just in transporting oneself to work or school. if transportation is better, we have a bigger pool of possible innovators. in fairness to the well-to-do, i think some are willing to use public transport IF there are good alternatives.

so the axe falls on the government once more. :-)

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