23 November 2020 via Recorded Message

Secretary Fortunato De La Peña;

Secretary Gregorio Honasan;

Mr. Rene “Butch” Meily;

To our Philippine startup community;

Ladies and gentlemen, magandang umaga po sa inyong lahat!

We are pleased to see that despite the COVID-19 pandemic, we can still come together—even virtually—as one community. As we navigate the “New Normal,” we hope that this week’s event featuring the best of our people’s creativity, innovation, and entrepreneurship can inspire others to dream for a “Better Normal.”

In the following days, Filipinos both here and abroad—as well as our friends from other countries—can discover opportunities, collaborate on related projects, and invest in prospective partners in the local startup scene.

More importantly, the Philippine Startup Week will showcase Filipino ingenuity powering the new, relevant, and disruptive innovations addressing the needs of our society and our people. This is especially significant, given how the world is becoming increasingly digital in the wake of COVID-19 and the coming Fourth Industrial Revolution.

Before the pandemic, the Philippines had many startups already making a name for themselves in innovation and entrepreneurship. For example, 1Export is an enterprise solutions startup that was the SoGal Global Pitch Competition 2020 winner. Cropital is a fintech startup that has deployed 1,300 loans and has over 700 farmers on their platform. Antipara Exploration is an industrial startup that has received Php1M in investment from the IdeaSpace Program.

But like the other industries, our startup industry was heavily affected by the COVID-19 pandemic with challenges like job losses, business disruptions, and cost reduction. Fortunately, it has powered through with its relevant business models and their agility and ability to innovate and move faster. In fact, in a survey conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), 21% of the respondents said that the lockdowns resulted in an increasing demand for their services and products.

As we slowly reopen our economy, we believe startup enterprises will play an instrumental role in helping our country to recover. First is through the innovation that they bring to the table by providing solutions that ease people’s burdens through technology.

Second, we believe startups can help in enabling the digital transformation of our Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs). Our traditional brick-and-mortar businesses—especially the SMEs—need to digitalize their operations in order to thrive and be competitive in the post-pandemic economy.

That’s why it is crucial to facilitate the collaboration between MSMEs and startups so as to generate more and better opportunities for employment and entrepreneurship. Furthermore, we need to sustain and enhance our efforts to support our local startups and grow our startup ecosystem to drive our country’s innovation progress.

The government has doing its part to achieve these goals. President Rodrigo Roa Duterte signed Republic Act (RA) No. 11337, or the “Innovative Startup Act,” and RA 11293, or the “Philippine Innovation Act” last year to support local startups and the startup ecosystem in the country.

And before the pandemic, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) has been establishing startup support programs. These include incubation and acceleration services, matching grants, MSME and startup linkage activities, our Startup Business One-Stop Shop, and various international and global exposure and networking events.

Of course, DTI also partnered with IdeaSpace Foundation, JP Morgan, and the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) to establish the QBO Innovation Hub, the country’s first public-private initiative for startups and co-organizer of today’s event.

That’s why as we hold the Philippine Startup Week, we look forward to your active engagement in the many different activities and community events. For example, during our Slingshot Conference on Wednesday (November 25), we will tackle collaboration opportunities and listen to experiences shared by our guests, local and international speakers.

We will also recognize highly-promising startups participating in the Online Seedstars Manila competition, which will be the culminating activity of the week this Friday (November 27). We hope that you will take advantage of these events and acquire valuable learnings and partnerships with fellow innovators and entrepreneurs.

In closing, DTI—together with QBO, DOST, the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), and the private sector partners like the PLDT group—affirm our commitment to support local startups and your community of innovators, entrepreneurs, and enablers.

Doing so will not only push the Philippines’ innovative progress and solve societal problems, but it would create more entrepreneurial opportunities in our country. This, in turn, would generate more jobs and employment for our people, which would enable them to attain a better and more comfortable quality of life for themselves.

As we participate in the Philippine Startup Week 2020, let us dream bigger and brighter so that we can build a modern, dynamic, and responsive technology entrepreneurs in a post-COVID Philippines. We hope that everyone here will help to realize that dream with us.

Maraming salamat po at mabuhay tayong lahat.♦

Date of Release: 25 November 2020