DTI, IdeaSpace launch the QBO Innovation Hub
Business Mirror
August 9, 2016

The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), through its Export Marketing Bureau (EMB) and IdeaSpace Foundation, the leading early-stage technology incubator and accelerator in the Philippines, on Monday signed a memorandum of understanding for the establishment and launch of the QBO Innovation Hub at the DTI International Building, Sen. Gil J. Puyat Avenue, Makati City, for start-ups and innovation entrepreneurs.

The hub aims to link innovators, explorers, investors, academic institutions, start-up mentors, funders and enablers, as well as a broad spectrum of partners and stakeholders from both public and private sectors, to convene in constructive interaction, and is the DTI’s support to the start-up community, particularly targeting start-ups with viable business propositions.

“This initiative is DTI-EMB’s way of providing relational form of assistance that boosts the climate of collaboration within the start-up community, private sector, academe and the government,” DTI-EMB Director Senen M. Perlada said.

In line with the Strategy No. 8 of the 2015-2017 Philippine Export Development Plan (PEDP), which states the enhancement of the innovative capacity of the export sector through an efficient system of national innovation, QBO Innovation Hub will also serve as an avenue to urge more micro, small and medium entrepreneurs (MSMEs) to collaborate and explore opportunities that disruptive technologies can offer.

“We hope to open more opportunities for market access and capital, and mentorship for our start-ups, especially the growing number of young entrepreneurs,” Perlada added.

The QBO Innovation Hub is under the Negosyo Center Plus operating model, although it will be more selective and focus on more mature start-ups. As a flagship initiative of DTI to encourage entrepreneurship in the country, the over 250 Negosyo Centers across the country are equipped with materials and resource supports that will assist entrepreneurs and would-be entrepreneurs. As the agency adds more services catering to the needs of the start-up community, more centers under the Negosyo Center Plus model will start assisting those in the start-up and innovation sector.

“We hope that this is just the beginning of a larger initiative from public-private collaboration that will enhance our local entrepreneurs’ ability to network, to exchange ideas and to create and innovate products and services that could bring our Filipino brands in the global market,” Perlada urged.

“As a strong supporter of the start-up ecosystem in this country since we launched IdeaSpace a few years back, we are glad that many other players have emerged to help build and grow such start-ups.  As the old saying goes, it takes a village to raise a child.  We note with appreciation that the government has shown a keen interest in collaborating with private-sector partners to help raise the Philippine start-up scene to global standards through the QBO Innovation Hub,” said Manuel V. Pangilinan, head of IdeaSpace, PLDT and First Pacific.

“Our hope is that the hub will help spur the Philippine start-up ecosystem and trigger the spirit of innovation, risk-taking and creativity that will give birth to new companies, new jobs and wealth for entrepreneurs, their partners and their employees.  We aim to be as inclusive as possible and to collaborate with both local and international business groups and funders to produce game-changing breakthroughs to rival businesses around the world,” said Rene  Meily, who will be leading the QBO Innovation Hub.  Katrina R. Chan of IdeaSpace will serve as executive director of QBO. Meily also heads the Philippine Disaster Resilience Foundation (PDRF), a private-sector vehicle for disaster management that has become a role model for the United Nations’s Connecting Business Initiative and includes many of the country’s major corporations.

Aside from the DTI and IdeaSpace, the innovation hub was made possible with the support from the Department of Science and Technology and JP Morgan Foundation. It takes its cue from the rise of innovation districts around the world—the likes of Silicon Valley in the United States, Block 71 in Singapore and Tel Aviv, the center of “Start-up Nation” in Israel.

QBO Innovation Hub is a natural progression in the efforts of IdeaSpace to help promote start-up technopreneurship in the country, aside from providing equity-free funding, incubation and acceleration through its national start-up competition held annually since 2012.

A nonprofit foundation, IdeaSpace is supported by the following companies: First Pacific, Metro Pacific Investments Corp., PLDT, Smart Communications, Meralco, Indofood, Philex Mining, Maynilad, MediaQuest and TV5.

During the event, the DTI also announced its plan of establishing a food innovation hub at the Philippine Trade Training Center later this year to strengthen its advocacy of advancing the innovation and entrepreneurship agenda.  The DTI noted that initiatives like this would support the realization of the Philippines’s ambition to be known as Asia’s trendsetter in export products and services.

For the past six months, the DTI had been active in tapping the private sector and academe to further enhance the innovative capacity of Filipino entrepreneurs and to encourage more investors in the start-up, innovation and creative-services sector. Several events such as SlingShot Philippines, carried out a series of dialogues to accelerate the development of the start-up and innovation ecosystem in the country.

Named after the iconic kubo, as it reflects the modern reimagination of the traditional Filipino home and community space, and developed, in partnership with the BBDO, creative agency, the DTI hopes that the QBO Innovation Hub will usher in a new breed of start-ups that will thrive in the innovation economy.□

Kathleen Joyce Bondoc, Department of Trade and Industry

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