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The firms were chosen by small business officials from Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) member-economies and industry experts out of a pool of 14 innovative start-ups from the region. They were assessed based on presentations of their O2O business models, spotlighting the potential of mobile Internet, e-commerce and payment technologies to ignite commercial development.

“Digital advances are opening up consumer access like never before,” said John Andersen, chairman of the Apec Small and Medium Enterprise Working Group. “Apec is drawing out real-world lessons to help start-ups leverage the Internet to build viable cross-border businesses.”

Andersen is also deputy assistant Secretary for the Western Hemisphere at the United States Department of Commerce.

“The digital economy has become the single most important driver of innovation, competitiveness and growth in the region,” added Mei-Hsueh Lin, deputy director general of Chinese Taipei’s Small and Medium Enterprise Administration and overseer of Apec’s O2O project work. “It is vital for new businesses to use opportunities online to stand out.”

Focus is on helping entrepreneurs understand how to take advantage of O2O applications to attract consumers and grow their operations. Examples include the deployment of e-commerce, sharing economies, industry collaboration and digital innovation, with best practices and experiences of up-and-coming start-ups offering a blueprint for implementation.

Other model start-ups participating in the O2O evaluations ranged from an installment payment service to a thriving digital media site. They hail from China, Chile, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, Chinese Taipei, the United States and Vietnam.

The program is part of a multi-year O2O business model promotion initiative, administered in collaboration with leading digital firms, such as eBay, Amazon, Alibaba and Rukuten. The Philippines, as a cosponsor of the O2O, will host the next event in this region-wide series in Boracay this November.

“Apec  is committed to optimizing the digital-innovation ecosystem to unleash the potential of O2O business,” said Jerry Clavesillas, director of the Philippines’s Bureau of Small and Medium Enterprise Development. “Our goal is to cultivate startups that can help to realize a new era of trade and inclusive growth across the region’s economies.”□

Agnes Perpetua R. Legaspi, Assistant Director, Agnes Perpetua R. Legaspi, Department of Trade and Industry

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