Trade dep’t encourages more investments in startups

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The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) is encouraging more investments in local startups as the Philippines continues to improve its ranking in the global innovation index.

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In the 2015 Global Innovation Index, the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) noted that the Philippines climbed 17 notches to 83rd place from 100 a year earlier.

DTI Undersecretary Nora Terrado said there are opportunities to enhance and develop the country’s national innovation ecosystem that will make it easier for startups to operate.

“There is no better time for the Philippines than now,” Terrado said.

At present, the DTI is in the middle of crafting the Startup Ecosystem Development Plan as a guidebook on how to make the startup ecosystem more conducive to new and existing players.

The development plan is different from the existing Philippine Digital Startup Roadmap that lists the startup industry’s targets and visions.

The plan will identify the legislation needed for the startup ecosystem, blocks to starting a business, specific developmental programs which will be crafted with the DOST, ways for easier capital or financing access to banks, as well as the DTI’s role in promoting startups.

Terrado earlier said the Startup Ecosystem Development Plan is expected to be completed by June.

The DTI official also noted how the country improved in compliance terms under the intellectual property rights protection – a viable qualification to be the next innovation hub in Asia.

The country ranked second in most improved patent protection and IPR protection in the region in 2014.

One of the country’s top Philippine innovations is the Salamander by H20 Technologies, which is a six-seater tricycle that can operate even through floods. The tricycles are environment-friendly and are available in two variants: one powered by electricity, the other by gasoline.

“There are stories of success in the Philippine startup scene. What we can do is to encourage these startups, link them to venture capitalists, and help them to improve their capacity to enter the global economy by creating an environment supportive of their persistence,” Terrado said.

There are about 30 Filipino inventors holding 23 patents assigned to 12 foreign companies. DTI sees these startups as inspiration to develop a new breed of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) that will help various industries and sectors through innovation.

“As we define the innovation economy of the Philippines, we would like to focus on coming up with new breed of SMEs. It will not just be about digital startups, but we will also explore the field of agriculture, biotechnology, electronics, e-commerce, among others,” Terrado said.

According to the Philippine Digital Startup Roadmap, the country expects 500 startups with a $200 million funding by year 2020. The industry is expected to be valued at $2 billion by then.

The DTI said that by 2020, the Philippine startup and innovation community aims to create 8,500 high-skilled jobs for Filipinos.

On April 21 to 26, the trade agency is set to hold SlingShot 2016 which aims to equip, inspire and invigorate key players of the Philippine startup and innovation ecosystem.

SlingShot is a DTI program through its Foreign Trade Service Corps that caters to startup and innovation entrepreneurs in the country.

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