by Jose Ramon Albert and Ramonette Serafica

New and emerging technologies across the world that are already being adopted by Philippine industries, albeit in varying degrees of diffusion, coupled with the interplay of various fields are powering up the Fourth Industrial Revolution (FIRe) and its radical consequences. While opportunities are being created to increase wealth and prosperity, as well as to improve various aspects of daily living including food, nutrition and health, the disruptions the FIRe brings may also present risks of heightened gaps across society, especially between those who can adapt to the revolution, and those who cannot. Government’s role in the innovation ecosystem is extremely critical. Government should be like a gardener preparing the ground, i.e., working with the private sector to improve human capacities for the labor market and increase systematically the science and technology (S&T) workforce. Further, government should be watering the ground and nurturing the soil, i.e., increasing support for S&T, but considering also absorptive capacities of R&D institutions. Finally, government also needs to remove pests and weeds, i.e., adapting its policies and regulatory environment in the wake of the impending revolutionary changes to be brought about by the FIRe. A critical but challenging task of government is to reduce regulatory barriers to innovation and burdens to doing business, improve regulatory quality, and utilize adaptive regulatory frameworks including regulatory sandboxes to ultimately ensure that no Filipino will be left behind in enjoying the benefits of the FIRe.