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PARIS—Secretary Fortunato T. de la Peña of the Philippine Department of Science and Technology (DOST) and Minister Frédérique Vidal of the French Ministry of Higher Education, Research and Innovation signed on 23 May 2019 a Program of Cooperation (POC) in Science, Technology, and Innovation which will update the implementation of the 1978 Philippines-France Agreement on Scientific and Technical Cooperation.

Under the POC, the Philippines and France will cooperate on mutually beneficial scientific technological, and innovative activities on various areas, including nuclear applications in the health sector, biological sciences, researches on genomics and personalized medicines, agri-tech, industry, energy, and other emerging technology, among others. The POC details the commitments by the two sides to facilitate and encourage collaborative activities that will deepen the Philippines-France relations on science, technology, and innovation.

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Secretary Fortunato De La Peña (left) and Minister Frédérique Vidal (right) sign the Program of Cooperation in Science, Technology, and Innovation at Ministry of Higher Education, Research, and Innovation.

Prior to the signing of the Program of Cooperation, Secretary de la Peña and Minister Vidal exchanged views on how to further promote and expand the Philippines-France bilateral engagements. In particular, Secretary de La Peña conveyed the plan to send more Filipino scholars and scientists to France to undertake post-graduate studies and research. He also expressed hope for more French scholars and scientists to go the Philippines. Minister Vidal said that both countries can build on this collaboration for the long-term.

Secretary de la Peña also raised closer bilateral cooperation in health and agri-technology. He also sought closer links with France in space development as the Philippines is in the process of establishing its own Philippine Space Agency. Minister Vidal said that she will ask the concerned French agencies to contact their Philippine counterparts.

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Minister Vidal and Secretary De La Peña exchanged a hearty discussion on the future of the Philippines-France relations on science and technology, in particular, on space and health technological applications.

During his three-day official visit, Secretary De La Peña visited facilities such as Institut de la Vision, one of the most prominent eye diseases research centers in Europe; Institut Imagine, a research and innovative healthcare institution that gathers under one roof researchers, doctors and patients with the objective of treating genetic diseases; and Station F, the biggest start-up campus in France.

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Secretary de La Peña (center), accompanied by Ambassador Ma. Theresa P. Lazaro (fourth from left), visited Institut de la Vision’s motion-sensor equipped “street lab”, which simulates activities on public roads to undertake visual rehabilitation research.

Included as well in his three-day itinerary were meetings with UniLaSalle President Philippe Choquet where discussions focused on possible partnerships between UniLaSalle and Philippine colleges and universities specifically in the field of agri-technology, Filipino scholars in Paris, and Ms. Claire Giry, Vice CEO of the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research (INSERM), who reaffirmed INSERM’s commitment to continue discussions on holding a joint scientific seminar with DOST.

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Secretary De La Peña and Ambassador Lazaro in one of the common areas of Institut Imagine with its Director Stanislas Lyonnet (center).

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The Philippine delegation, headed by Secretary De La Peña, at a meeting in Station F with Kat Borlongan, Director of La FrenchTech (to the immediate left of Secretary de la Peña), and French Foreign Ministry on opportunities for collaboration between Filipino and French startups.

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Ambassador Lazaro accompanied the members of the Philippine delegation to their meeting with UniLaSalle President Philippe Choquet (second from right).

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Secretary de La Peña and the Filipino scientists and scholars had an interactive discussion on the future of science and technology in the Philippines, and the opportunities awaiting the scholars upon their return.

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Ambassador Lazaro accompanied the members of the Philippine delegation to their meeting with INSERM’s Deputy Director General Claire Giry (fourth from right), where the parties discussed how to concretize previous plans for cooperation.

Secretary de la Peña was joined by Dr. Rowena Christina L. Guevara, DOST Undersecretary for Research and Development and Dr. Jaime C. Montoya, Executive Director of the DOST-Philippine Council for Health Research and Development. END