As Philippine startup scene heats up, agencies eye roadmap

The Philippine startup ecosystem is heating up, prompting the government to set up a five-year roadmap.

Metro Manila skyline photo by JC Gellidon on Unsplash

Three government line agencies in the Philippines have bonded together to lay the ground for the formulation of a five-year roadmap that seeks to boost the startups community in the country amidst a burgeoning Filipino startup ecosystem.

The Department of Science and Technology (DOST), Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to develop a five-year roadmap to identify how the government could better support the technology business incubators (TBIs) and startups.

“The Parties commit to coming up with projects, events, and/or endeavors by way of tie-ups, joint program activities, or cost matching to be reflected in their future memorandums of understanding to succeeding activities and events that will promote and assist Philippine startups,” the MOU reads.

Among the activities that have already been lined up for next year are caravans and information campaigns that seek to educate startups on matters such as legal help and where to get resources, among others.

According to a PwC study, the Philippine startup ecosystem continues to grow as more startups were launched in recent years. Its findings show that 54% of founders that participated in the PwC study said they launched their startups between 2016 and 2017.

The study, which profiles the Philippine start-up ecosystem, found that there are more than 300 startups in the country and over 200 of them are actively operating.

The three agencies already have their own different programs to support the startups but the roadmap will ensure that these new tech firms will get the best support from the government, according to DOST Undersecretary Rowena Cristina Guevara.

For instance, the DICT launched in 2016 its own roadmap for Internet-related technology innovation with the goal of generating innovative startups that will spur economic growth and push internet-related innovation.

On the other hand, DTI, through the Startup Ecosystem Development, provides means for startups to scale up by giving them opportunities to participate in outbound business missions and international pitching competitions.

The DOST also provides financial assistance to startups through the Philippine Council for Industry, Energy, and Emerging Technology Research and Development. The agency has been incubating startup companies in its numerous TBIs, all of whom specialize in ICT/Technology.

Guevara told reporters during the recent 2nd National Technology Business Incubator Summit in Manila that the three agencies have identified four strategic ways to help TBIs and startups – collaboration, policy, promotion, and education.

As the Philippine startup space heats up, a number of incubators have also emerged. Among the key startup incubators in the Philippines is IdeaSpace Foundation Inc, which has received a total of 4,386 entries for its annual startup incubation program since its establishment in 2012. A total of 50 startups have undergone the program.

SingTel-backed Kickstart has also been investing in tech startups in the Philippines in different funding series. Its portfolio of investees is now composed of 24 companies, including Kalibrr, coins.ph, and Zalora.

Editor: Ben Jiang