By Matt Jerome Casequin

Capping off their showcase on the international stage of innovation, delegates from the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) secured awards at the 49th International Exhibition of Inventions Geneva (IEIG).  Considered one of the largest invention exhibits in the world devoted to showcasing and highlighting more than 1,000 innovations and inventions across over 40 organizations and universities.  In patronage and collaboration with the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), The International Exhibition of Inventions Geneva receives exceptional support, highlighting its unparalleled quality and global recognition as the leading inventions exhibition.  The Inventions Exhibition honors inventions that respond to a global problem, contribute to the advancement of innovation on a global scale, or contribute to the economic and technological development of a country. 

The Filipino delegation who competed in the IEIG is composed of the DOST Research and Development Institutes (RDIs) and winners of the National Invention Contests and Exhibits (NICE).  The inventions and technologies that were featured were from the Industrial Technology Development Institute (ITDI), the Philippine Textile Research Institute (PTRI), and the Philippine Nuclear Research Institute (PNRI) – which addresses different fields from healthcare and agriculture, to food and water, to sustainable fashion.

Industrial Technology Development Institute

The Flavored Salt and Food Seasoning presented by Ms. Maricar Carandang from ITDI won a Bronze award.  Inspired with a desire to add value to locally-produced salts, she and her team set out to infuse traditional salts with bursts of flavors, a concept that emerged in 2015 during a stakeholders meeting with local salt producers.  Drawing on indigenous ingredients, they crafted a blend that not only tantalizes taste buds but also boasts of a lower sodium content and wealth of added minerals, without preservatives. 

(“Sana hindi lang kami ‘yung makarating dito, kasi marami tayong technology na capable na makarating din dito, hindi lang kami… Hopefully sa mga susunod na mga taon makapag-join especially ang mga iba pang technology especially mga DOST Technologies.”)

“I hope that we are not only the ones to be here, because we have so many good technologies that are deserving to being here, not just us.  Hopefully, in the coming years, other technologies will be featured, especially DOST-funded technologies,” said Ms. Carandang in an interview after the pitching event. 

DOST-ITDI’s flavored salt emphasizes the potential for collaboration and innovation by establishing partnerships with salt producers, flavor companies, and culinary experts.

Another technology from the ITDI was the SafeWaTrS Mobile Water Disinfection System presented by Engr. Prima Joy Margarito, which won a Silver award as a transformative solution ensuring access to clean and safe drinking water.  Tackling head-on the pressing issue of water scarcity during disasters and in rural areas plagued by contamination or disruptions in supply, providing access to safe drinking water, the invention also runs on solar energy, making it eco-friendly and able to operate even in areas without electricity.

(“Noong third day na, medyo nandoon pa rin ang kaba, pero nasa akin pa rin yung saya na binigyan ako ng opportunity or kami ang aming institute through the TAPI na ma-exhibit ang aming invention…”)

“On the third day, I still felt nervous, yet am happy that I have been given an opportunity, our institute was given an opportunity through TAPI to exhibit our invention…”, Engr. Margarito answered when asked about how she felt after her pitching. 

Engaging in applied research and development, ITDI focuses on cultivating novel insights, technologies, and advancements within industrial manufacturing, mineral processing, and energy sectors. They actively facilitate knowledge translation, technology transfer, and commercialization.  ITDI cultivates expertise in pioneering technology and product innovation, establishing itself as a trusted ally for both industry and government, driving forward growth and development initiatives within the country.

Philippine Nuclear Research Institute

The New Hemostat Technology presented by Ms, Charito Aranilla of the PNRI won the Silver Award. This technology has filled a crucial gap in the healthcare, emergency response, and defense sectors, providing sustainable, accessible, and affordable biomedical devices for emergency health intervention. 

When asked about the importance of joining these kinds of international competitions, Ms. Aranilla said (“Para ma-recognize at ma-showcase ang innovative culture ng Pilipinas”) "To recognize and showcase the innovative culture we have in the Philippines.”  The New Hemostat Tech was also a Likha Award NICE Winner for Outstanding Creative Research in 2022. 

Another Silver Award was bagged by the PNRI for their Carboxymethyl Hyaluronic Acid (CMHA) Hydrogels, presented by Ms. Lorna Relleve, for its versatility and wide-ranging applications in various industries including healthcare and agriculture. CMHA Hydrogels offer a safe, biocompatible alternative to conventional products, free from toxic residues.

PNRI’s Super Water Absorbent (SWA) Gels received a Bronze Award for their promise to revolutionize irrigation methods, enhance crop productivity, and mitigate the adverse effects of drought.  The pitching was presented by Ms. Relleve and Ms. Aranilla. 

“(Minsan ‘yung research natin hindi nagwo-work) Sometimes if our researcher doesn’t work, just do not give up easily, just keep on trying until you get it right.”, Ms. Relleve answered when asked about her advice to starting inventors.

The PNRI spearheads the research and development initiatives, and regulates authority to ensure compliance with established safety protocols, safeguarding the well-being of radiation workers and the public at large.  Functioning as a pivotal arm of the DOST, PNRI conducts extensive research on radiation and nuclear techniques, materials, and processes.  They also facilitate the dissemination of research outcomes to end-users through technical extension and training services.

Philippine Textile Research Institute

Another win for the Filipinos was from the PTRI, a Bronze Award given to the Spinnable Lignocellulosic Bamboo Textile, an eco-friendly bamboo-based fabric, offering softness, breathability, and moisture-wicking properties ideal for various clothing applications offering a sustainable alternative that aligns with regulatory frameworks and consumer expectations. 

“The experience here in Geneva brought us up to speed with the developments in the field.”, said Director Leano on his experience with the 49th IEIG.  “When we arrived, we are able to see the opportunities that we have, not just for the technology but also to further improve it and make it actually even more relevant,” he added.

Also from the textile research institute, the Lyocell and Natural Fiber-Blended Yarns secured a Bronze Award for its superior quality and durability while being environmentally friendly, serving as a shining example of the immense potential that sustainable textiles hold in today's fashion industry.

During an interview regarding her experience, Ms. Evangeline Manalang, who presented the Lyocell with Natural Fiber Blended Yarn, stated that the journey was very exciting, they had to prepare the technology, package it, and pitch it.

“When we arrived in Geneva, we saw more than a thousand inventions, all the inventions are very impressive but you know, Filipino inventions are worth showing on the global stage,” she added.  

The PTRI conducts applied research and development for the textile sector, transfers research findings to end-users, and provides technical services and training.  To adapt to industry changes, PTRI regulates an integrative approach by aligning critical roadmaps, engaging stakeholders, fostering growth through development centers and modern facilities, advancing technology, and connecting Filipino products to global markets.

The Lyocell with Natural Fiber-Blended Yarns and the Super Water Absorbent Technology, together with the Pili Seal have won special awards from the King Khalid University Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, an institution that empowers individuals to transform innovative ideas into successful ventures.

Aside from the DOST-RDIs, two other NICE winners that participated in the 49th IEIG have won awards namely – the Multi-Fuel Dryer invented by Prof. Zaldy Fernandez of the Mariano Marcos State University (Silver Award; and the Pili Seal by Engr, Mark Kennedy Bantugon (Bronze). 

This global event serves not only as a competition but more importantly as an opportunity to showcase Filipino technologies into international platforms, giving them limitless possibilities to engage with international adapters. 

DOST Secretary Renato U. Solidum, Jr. stated that the IEIG and other international competitions will serve as a challenge to the DOST System to strive more in producing and in sending capable technologies that can be showcased on the global stage. A recognition to the participating inventors was conducted after the flag ceremony on Monday morning, April 29, 2024.