DTI: ‘Ecosystem’ devt plan to help startups

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THE Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) is in the middle of crafting a development plan that will serve as a guidebook to make the startup ecosystem more conducive to new and existing players.

The DTI is currently gathering inputs from various Filipino and US startups as well as the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) to further improve the startup environment in the Philippines, Trade Undersecretary Nora Terrado said on Thursday following a high-level dialogue on startup and innovation.

“We should come up with the Startup Ecosystem Development Plan by June. It is very pragmatic. [It will] identify the blockers, strengths, and weaknesses [of the current startup environment in the country],” Terrado said.

Having the current Philippine Digital Startup Roadmap that lists the industry’s targets and visions, Terrado said it is important to have a development plan for the startup ecosystem that will help new and existing startups thrive and achieve their goals.


“What we don’t have is a startup ecosystem development plan. You have different startups that are run by businesses. But what we should focus on [is]the ecosystem, or the environment that will make those businesses thrive,” Terrado said.

The plan will identify the needed legislation for the startup ecosystem, the blockers that make it hard to start a business, specific developmental programs which will be crafted with the DOST, ways for easier capital or financing access, and the DTI’s role in the promotion of the startups.

Sen. Paulo Benigno “Bam” Aquino, chairman of the Senate Committee on Trade, Commerce and Entrepreneurship, cited three key points that were discussed during the closed-door dialogue.

He said these three points were a) the ease of starting and closing a business, b) the openness for failure, c) and the role of government in supporting startups, especially in financing.

The Startup Business Bill or Senate Bill 2217, if passed, will allow startups to operate for two years tax-free to enable them to get organized and establish business operations and market base.

Terrado explained that startups are different from small and medium enterprises (SMEs) because of the “vision to have a quick win and to grow exponentially,” thus being more innovative, disruptive, but more exposed to the risk of failure.

She cited AirBNB, Grab, and Uber as some of the most successful startups at present which provide a platform that efficiently meet the people’s needs.

Aquino also cited the need for the right amount of government support to help startups break out and be successful.

“The government needs to be supportive . . . [it]should be there to help you move forward. But if you’re over-regulated, then there’s a problem with your policy. Maybe the industry is over-regulated,” Aquino said.

“We’re in the middle of crafting the Startup Bill, which we’ll file with the 17th Congress. We’re still getting inputs from the startup communities and inputs from the US startup community. We plan to file that as soon as we commence the 17th Congress,” the senator added.

Under the Digital Startup Roadmap, the Philippines is expected to grow the number of startups to 500 with total funding of at least $200 million. As of 2015, about 100 startups already exist under the ICT Office, not yet including the private startups.

Among the well-known internet startups today are those that are in ecommerce (ebay, Amazon), communication (Facebook, Viber, Skype), Internet of Things (Nest, Pebble Watch, Android Watch), gaming (Makerbot, Autodesk), media and entertainment (YouTube, Vimeo, Snapchat), food technology, and travel among others.

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