IdeaSpace calls for PH ‘Silicon Valley’


IDEASPACE Foundation (IdeaSpace) is calling for a collaboration between the government and the private sector to establish the Philippines version of California’s Silicon Valley.

Taking its cue from the rise of innovation districts around the world – Silicon Valley in the United States, Block 71 in Singapore, and MaGIC in Malaysia – the Philippine hub aims to foster the advancement of technology and innovation with critical support from the government, the academe, and the private sector, according to IdeaSpace.

“When we founded IdeaSpace in 2012, we wanted to find the next big innovative idea that will change the world, and to create a startup ecosystem that embodies the Silicon Valley-mindset of using technology and science to create massive change in the world,” Earl Martin Valencia, president and co-founder of IdeaSpace, said.

If ever this collaboration matures into fruition, it will represent the first-ever public-private partnership (PPP) in the country that is focused on growing the local innovation ecosystem to improve the chances of the Philippine positioning in the emerging global digital economy.

“Today we realize the dream to create the Philippines’ own innovation hub with our initial collaboration with the government and the academe where startups and high-potential research can get the support they need in order to grow and thrive,” Valencia noted.

The announcement was made on the sidelines of SlingshotMNL on Monday, the official startup event of APEC Philippines 2015, where venture capitalists, investors, startups, and industry stakeholders from the Philippines and around the world converged for the two-day event to discuss innovation prospects and chart the future of startup ecosystems in the region.

The call was made along with the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), Department of Science and Technology (DOST), and the Information and Communications Technology Office (ICTO),

Entrepreneurial spirit
Aside from the five DOST-supported Technology Business Incubators (TBI), the Innovation Hub adds to DOST’s continuing program of encouraging innovative and entrepreneurial spirit among academic institutions, in partnership with the private sector, DOST Undersecretary for Scientific and Technological Services Rowena Cristina L. Guevara said.

“It has always been DOST’s thrust to support technology transfer of R&D output, either through commercialization or deployment for public good. The Innovation Hub, we believe, will be a critical and effective agent in delivering R&D results to the people,” Guevara noted.

Aside from policy and operational support, the DOST allocated a P35-million grant for equipment and operating expenses of the two Innovation Hubs in Intramuros and UP Diliman over the next two years.

“The DTI strongly supports entrepreneurship and innovation in the Philippines to realize economic growth that is truly inclusive,” Trade Undersecretary Nora K. Terrado said.

“Tech startups present a growing spectrum of opportunities for Filipinos to compete in the international stage as they create new solutions to pressing social and environmental problems. In the process, this will spur economic activities resulting from the value and employment it would generate. Innovation hubs are essential elements in building an innovation culture for the present and future generation,” Terrado added.

The ICTO is now working on the Philippine Startup Roadmap 2020 in collaboration with the Philippine Startup Roundtable, which will be launched during the 2015 “Geeks on a Beach” event in Boracay next month.

“We can’t do it alone, so we’re calling on more partners in the industry, the government, and the academe that believe in the Filipino innovator’s potential to help us push this initiative forward,” Valencia said.

Academic institutions
It is critical to locate the innovation hubs near key academic institutions to imbibe the spirit of innovative and entrepreneurial thinking among students, he said.

The idea is to tap into a wellspring of engineering and technology talent from these universities, as well as address the growing interest of students in founding their own startups the way the likes of Stanford University has fostered the same environment for notable startups in Silicon Valley, he added.

IdeaSpace, DOST, DTI, and ICTO has laid out the groundwork for establishing innovation hubs in strategic locations including Intramuros in Manila, which is within the vicinity of the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila (PLM), Colegio de San Juan de Letran (CSL), the Lyceum of the Philippines and the Mapua Institute of Technology. Other key areas are the University belt in Manila, Diliman in Quezon City where the University of the Philippines and Ateneo de Manila University are situated.

The creation of innovation hubs is a critical component in the drive to boost the Philippine ranking in the Digital Evolution Index (DEI), which ranks countries in terms of readiness for the fast expanding digital economy.

The Philippines is one of the so-called “break-out” nations in the recent global DEI study conducted by the US-based Fletcher School at Tufts University, using data from 2008 to 2013, together with China, Malaysia, Thailand, and Vietnam.

IdeaSpace and the PLDT Group earlier called on private and public industry players to push for the country’s DEI rankings through key strategic digital initiatives and infrastructure investments that will help more Filipinos participate in the growing digital economy.

IdeaSpace has invested in 38 local startups as part of a P500-million five-year commitment toward growing the local startup ecosystem. Seven of the startups have received follow-on funding from IdeaSpace and other investors.

A non-profit foundation, IdeaSpace is supported by First Pacific Co. Ltd., First Pacific Leadership Academy, Metro Pacific Investments Corporation, Metro Pacific Tollways Corporation, MPIC hospital group, PLDT, Meralco, Smart Communications, Digitel Mobile Philippines Inc. and its mobile brand Sun Cellular, SPI Global, ePLDT, Indofood, Philex Mining Corp., Maynilad, MediaQuest, and TV5.


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