22 November 2019, Crowne Plaza Manila Galleria, Ortigas, Pasig City

As delivered



Ladies and Gentlemen, Good morning!

I am pleased to see the members of our country’s startup community showcasing Filipino creativity, innovativeness, and entrepreneurship to the world this week. 

It is also inspiring to see how we Filipinos, both here and from abroad, and our friends from other countries have come together to collaborate and move our startup ecosystem forward.

Just to paint a picture of our ecosystem: currently, we have counted over 600 startups in the country; around 50 incubators and accelerators; and about 45 funders.

In its latest report, Startup Genome ranks Manila among the top Activation Phase Ecosystems in the world, together with Taipei, Busan, Calgary, and Frankfurt.  It is also Top 10 in the global ecosystem for Bang for Buck,

Top 5 in the Activation Ecosystem for Connectedness, Top 5 in Exit Growth Index, Top 6 in Output Growth Index, and Top 9 in Funding Growth Index.

Though still relatively small, and Manila only valued at $378 million, we are seeing so much talent, value, and potential for growth among our young and dynamic Filipino startups! And we can see many of them in the other room.


This year marks the 5th year of the Department of Trade and Industry’s (DTI) SLINGSHOT Conference. Allow me to briefly recall the highlights of previous years.

When it began, SLINGSHOT paved the way for the formulation of DTI’s Startup Ecosystem Development Program (SEDP). This program aims to increase both the number of registered business startups annually and the percentage of startup survival and success rate in the country through a five-point agenda.

These five points are: (1) Fostering a culture of entrepreneurship and collaboration; (2) Addressing legal and regulatory barriers; (3) Bolstering government support through services, access to capital, and resources; (4) Strengthening existing institutions supporting the ecosystem; and (5) Establishing a Philippine innovation economic zone.

Over the succeeding years, the SEDP guided the initiatives and activities we implemented to support our local startups.

Of course, a major endeavor we have undertaken—in collaboration with our partners from Ideaspace Foundation, the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), and JP Morgan—is the QBO Innovation Hub. QBO has become a strong enabler of our startups, an active participant of our ecosystem, and a key partner in mounting this first-ever Philippine Startup Week. Maraming Salamat po, QBO! Some of the successful startups supported by QBO include AdMov1, Kumu[i], Senti AI[ii], and Chatbot[iii].

In 2017, SLINGSHOT went international by gathering startups from the 10 ASEAN Member countries. It’s called SLINGSHOT ASEANIt became the largest international startup event in the Philippines. It brought together young minds with big ideas, innovators in constant pursuit of new solutions, supportive investors and venture capitalists, and policymakers from across the Southeast Asian region.

It showcased 60 Philippine startups and 10 incubators/accelerators; it also featured 240 investor matching sessions. In addition, through the ASEAN Startup Alley attended by over 50 local and foreign startups, a Filipino startup—STORM Technologies—bagged the first regional title of the Startup World Cup. This startup went on to represent the Philippines in the global round of the competition.

Last year, driven by our shared desire to further strengthen our startup ecosystem, DTI and DOST, together with the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). This MOU would have the three agencies work together to provide support to our startups and transform the Philippines into a thriving and innovative startup nation.

I think last week October 31 we also conducted the Impact Hackathon tried attempt to beat the world record. We had about I think 3,000 participants join in by several cities from around the country. So that was again another attempt and of course in pursuing the vision of building a more vibrant startup community in our country and DTI was one of these supporters. It is organized by the Impact Hub.

I would also like to reiterate that the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte is committed to support startup communities. We see technology and innovation as inclusive tools to promote income and job opportunities for our country.

And of course, my personal preference for startup business model system there are always challenge to find solutions to problems. This is how we want to promote Micro SMEs sector in the country. It has to deal with innovation, new ideas and really find these solutions to either end the problems and more importantly solutions to some social problem that we have in the country. 

Let me now proceed with opening today’s Conference by talking about the scaling up of DTI’s efforts to promote innovation, foster entrepreneurship, and develop startups.

i3S, RIICs, and Startup Ecosystem Development

Our Inclusive Innovation Industrial Strategy (i3S) aims to grow globally innovative and competitive manufacturing, agribusiness, and services industries. We can achieve this by building the country’s innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem, removing obstacles to industry growth, and strengthening industry linkages domestically and in global value chains.

The i3S stands on 6 major pillars: (1) Embracing Industry 4.0; (2) Innovation and entrepreneurship; (3) Capacity-building and human resource development; (4) Building new industries and industry clusters; (5) Growth and development of Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) and startups; and (6) Ease of doing business and investment environment.

At its core, our industrial strategy recognizes the valuable role that startup development plays in advancing innovation – through new products, new services, and new business models – that lead to more and better employment and entrepreneurship opportunities for our people. This inclusive impact that startups can bring is what makes startup ecosystem development essential to our plans and programs.

To help with this strategy, we are building Regional Inclusive Innovation Centers (RIICs) in partnership with DOST, DICT, and other national government agencies and regional stakeholders. Through the RIICs, we will connect startups in the regions with the various agents in the regional innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem. These stakeholders include corporates, funders, accelerators, incubators, innovation hubs, as well as government, universities, and service providers.

These RIICs will serve as platforms linking the innovation and startup programs and activities of the government, academe, and industry with a strong focus on solving community and industry problems in the regions. The RIICs are being piloted in Bicol, Cebu, Cagayan de Oro and Davao.

The Innovative Startup Act

Now, with respect to the innovative startup this is a new law passed last year. Government support for the startup community will definitely be enhanced by the passage of the Innovative Startup Act. The law will focus on providing benefits and removing constraints to encourage the establishment and operation of innovative new enterprises and businesses crucial to their growth and expansion. We are optimistic that we will see more and more internet platforms and innovative business models emerging from all over the country.

The Philippine Startup Development Program will be at the center of the law’s implementation. DTI, DOST, and DICT, as lead host agencies, will closely coordinate in reviewing our existing programs and other forms of support for startups and startup enablers.

DTI, in coordination with our attached agency, the National Development Company (NDC), will also administer and manage the Startup Venture Fund (SVF) that is part of the other law which is the Innovative Startup Act. This fund will be used to match investments by selected investors in startups based in the Philippines. We look forward to co-investing with interested parties both from here and abroad. We want to really support all those innovative startups that will really solve a lot of problems in the country.

In addition, DTI, in coordination with the Board of Investments (BOI), will develop a Startup Investment Development Plan (SIDP). This plan will cover and spur investment to promote the growth and development of startups and startup enablers in the country.


Currently, our startup development program STARTUP PILIPINAS aims to usher in a new breed of businesses that will thrive in the digital economy. It will also create an enabling environment conducive to the sustainable growth of Philippine startups.

Under the program and together with QBO and other partners, we have produced a mapping of the ecosystems of various cities in the country, including Manila, Cebu, Bohol, Naga, and Legazpi. These maps identify the stakeholders in these cities and help aspiring entrepreneurs and young innovators connect with potential mentors, funders, and collaborators.


DTI also facilitated the country’s participation in Startup Genome, a data-driven assessment of the startup ecosystems of regions and cities all over the world. We will hear more on this in a while from our speaker from Startup Genome.


To enhance the participation of women, we are also implementing Startup Pinay, a focused program for women-founded and women-led technology startups. This program was developed to respond to the need of providing more opportunities for women entrepreneurs and helping improve women representation in the startup industry. Through this program, 81 unique tech-startups were promoted by the DTI internationally.


A delegation of these Pinay-led startups just came back recently from their participation in the Singapore Week of Innovation and Technology (SWITCH), two of whom we will hear from in the panel discussion this morning.


Aside from Singapore, we have enabled the participation of our startups in 17 international events this year, including in Taiwan, Korea, Hong Kong, Canada, and Germany.


Various initiatives are also being carried out by our foreign commercial posts across the globe. For example, our post in San Francisco initiated the Bridging the Philippines and Silicon Valley Innovation Ecosystems program, which provides gateways for Philippine startups to connect and partner with founders, mentors, enablers, and VCs.


Another initiative, SPARK447, a co-working space at the Philippine Center in San Francisco was launched in October 2019 to provide Philippine Startups access to a virtual address and physical space. Meanwhile, KALA Works, a 10,659-square feet co-working space founded by Fil-Am investors will be operational by the 2nd quarter of 2020. This will be the first Fil-Am managed co-working space in San Francisco with the goal of helping startups scale up by providing a state-of-the-art facility and best possible mentorship. 


Our post in Canada organized Slingshot Goes to Canada for the first time this year to internationalize and bring to fore the Philippine startup ecosystem in Canada. Likewise, QBO and HYBRAIN attended ELEVATE Toronto, a leading tech and innovation festival.


Meanwhile, Slingshot Philippines was organized in PTIC-Taipei and they took part at the InnoVEX in Taiwan. This event brought two community builders/ accelerators and 11 start-ups offering cutting-edge innovation in the fields of Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Geospatial Mapping, Innovative Housing Solutions, Cyber Security, Smart Advertising, FinTech, Logistics, and Data Science-enabled Market Research. Likewise, around US$1.7M in investments were accessed by the startups through these meetings. Antipara Exploration emerged as the winner over 12 global startups at the InnoVEX MatchMaking Event.


Through our Berlin post, we participated in the Asia Pacific Week (APW) Berlin with a 14-man delegation from Manila, as well as with the StartUp Asia Berlin (SUAB) network. This aimed to create mutual interest and awareness, connect hubs, and enable cooperation and professionalization among startups in Berlin and Asian cities.


Moving Forward


As we look forward to 2020 and the coming years, we are preparing new programs that will focus on the growth and scaling up of startups. Together with the RIICs, through which we would be able to reach out to startups in the regions, we would also be implementing the following:

  • Entrepreneurial Management Services – With operations accounting for a huge percentage of the financial burden of startups, this program aims to augment their business operations needs by providing finance and accounting services, HR talent acquisition, and marketing/networking services. The objective is that at the end of the program, the startup should be able to properly manage, sustain, and grow its business operations.

Of course, there are the other items:

  • Mentorship
  • Market Studies and Validation
  • Product Development Grant
  • Spin-Off Activities and;
  • Startup Internationalization Program

Moreover, these programs will be supplemented by DTI’s existing capabilities, particularly our global network of commercial counsellors, foreign trade service officers, and Philippine Trade and Investment Centers.


The presence here of our foreign friends2 from Singapore, Thailand, Japan, Canada, Germany, Israel, and Taiwan is a testament to the strong interest and willingness from abroad to support the development of our startup ecosystem.


Final Word


To conclude, we need to remember three important words: COLLABORATE.  SCALE-UP.  GLOBALIZE.


In order to create the innovative and robust startup ecosystem in our country,

we need to collaborate with one another – across regions, between industry and academe, and among the private and public sectors; our startups need to scale up – grow, expand its team, sustain its operations, reach more markets, and generate jobs and more income; and our ecosystem must globalize – link up with the startups and enablers of other countries, interact with them, and connect with collaborators across borders. 


In all of these, our creativity, ingenuity and entrepreneurial spirit will remain as our strongest resource—unique, unlimited and ubiquitous.


Let us all remember that supporting startups and innovation will provide jobs and employment and attract more investments in the country. These will then help uplift the lives of our people and realize the vision of President Duterte towards better quality of life for all Filipinos.


Thus, we must keep working as one Filipino creative community of innovators, entrepreneurs, and enablers. Together, let us build a nation that is forward-looking, sustainable, and inclusive.


Magandang umaga po sa inyong lahat!