The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) on Monday said it will seek P200 to P300 million in initial budget under the Philippine Innovation Act.

Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez, on the sidelines of this year’s Inclusive Innovation Conference at the Sofitel Philippine Plaza, said the amount will be on top of the agency’s proposed budget for next year.

Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez

“The Philippine Innovation Act declares innovation as a vital component of national development and sustainable economic growth. It recognizes the importance of an effective and efficient innovation ecosystem, which requires a whole-of-government approach. It also emphasizes the crucial role of collaboration between and among government, industry, and academe,” said Lopez.

The law also calls for the formulation of a National Innovation Agenda and Strategy Document (NIASD). This will establish the country’s vision and long-term goals for innovation.

“It will provide a roadmap and strategies for improving innovation governance through clear-cut delineation and complementation of innovation efforts across agencies,” said Lopez.

“More importantly, the law creates an Innovation Fund, which is a revolving grant fund of P1 billion sourced from the General Appropriations Act (GAA). This fund will be administered by the NIC (National Innovation Council),” he added.

Lopez said the P200 to P300 million will be part of the P1 billion annual fund.

“The innovation fund is supposed to be P1 billion but in Congress, as we discuss and deliberate the budget, we try P200 to P300 million next year so that we can start [the initiatives.] We are making an appeal to Congress as we deliberate, to include this part so that we can start next year,” said Lopez.

Under the Philippine Innovation Act, an innovation development credit and financing as well as credit quota programs, to provide funding for innovation initiatives will also be put in place.

Lopez said the government is also finalizing incentives that could be given to startups.

“Right now we are looking at ecozones for startups. Not the usual Peza (Philippine Economic Zone Authority) ecozone. We will give them the support that they need to create an environment for startups. This is included in the law,” he said.

Among the key provisions of the Innovative Startup Act which was also passed earlier this year, include the creation of the Philippine Startup Development program, which will be composed of programs, benefits, and incentives for startups and startup enablers.

These include subsidies, grants-in-aid, and expedited processing of applications.

The law calls upon DTI, Department of Science and Technology, and Department of Information and Communication Technology as lead host agencies to promulgate appropriate policies and guidelines for the coordinated implementation of the program.

“The law further creates under each lead host agency a Startup Grant Fund to provide initial and supplemental Grants-in-Aid for startups/ startup enablers. It also calls for the creation of Startup Visas and the establishment of Startup Ecozones,” said Lopez.

The DTI chief said they are looking at providing co-working space, giving support for digital infrastructure, internet and lowering cost of operations.