18 August 2018

Sara Grace C. Fojas | Writer, DTI-Knowledge Management and Information Servies (KMIS)

Published also in Business Mirror

THE Department of Trade and Industry recently conducted the Innovation Circle Startup 101 Info Session to increase the awareness of DTI officials and employees on the start-up industry.

Organized through the Export Marketing Bureau (EMB), the session was held at the QBO Innovation Hub located at the Ground Floor, DTI International Building, 375 Sen. Gil J. Puyat Avenue, Makati City.

Sessions during the event discussed the elements of a start-up and how to start one, its ecosystem in the Philippines, as well as its difference from micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs). It was held in partnership with QBO, JP Morgan and IdeaSpace.

“We want to create more startups. We in the EMB and the whole department want to support start-ups and push them to go global or probably expand their market reach. We are looking at start-ups who already passed certain stages and have the willingness to go beyond where they are,” EMB Assistant Director Agnes R. Legaspi said.

Under the Philippine Export Development Plan (PEDP), which provides the business environment support in trade, growth and innovation, the DTI developed the five-point Startup Ecosystem Development Program (SEDP) to foster inter-enterprise linkages among MSMEs and strengthen collaborative works. With this program, the government aims to create high-growth and high-impact start-ups that will nurture innovation, sustain economic growth and generate large-scale employment opportunities.

The five-point program is divided across the following areas of development: increase culture and collaboration; address legal and regulatory barriers;  support through government services, capital and resources; create a national start-up business council; and establish a Philippine start-up economic zone.

During the event, participants were quizzed about the state of the start-ups in the Philippines during the QLITAN with QBO. Together, they learned that some start-ups are thriving and can be successful here in the Philippines as exemplified, for instance, by the fintech company Lendo, the EdTech start-up Edukasyon.ph, Consumer start-up Zap and the HealthTech start-up Medix.

“The Philippines is a cradle for what’s going to happen next. The rest of the region like Indonesia and Singapore already have their billion- dollar companies. In the Philippines, people solve problems that they know. The Philippine ecosystem is relatively young but it is also growing pretty quickly. There’s no reason we can’t have it but I hope we are optimistic. There are no guarantees with start-ups but it’s worth a shot,” QBO Director Katrina R. Chan said.

Chan said Philippine start-ups have a competitive advantage in creating tech solutions to address emerging market needs. They create solutions for issues that affect a large majority of the global population and have the potential to create hundreds of jobs and impact even more lives.

“The call is really for our country to gear up and we see that it is important that we create start-ups and provide innovative solutions. We believe that ICT is the way to go, that’s why we want to continuously improve our online database ecosystem. We have to embrace it and challenge traditional solutions,” Legaspi said.

Participants also learned about the Startup Ecosystem Outlook. There were discussions about the relevance of startups, overview of the PH ecosystem, industry impact, DTI’s efforts and initiatives, and how to support startups vs traditional SMEs. It was followed by the Startup, Scaleup! where stories of PH startups and their impact were introduced.

Startups introduced during the event were Admov, OneWatt, PushKart, and Qwikwire.

AdMov is an AdTech startup that uses location data with facial recognition to identify the passenger’s age, and gender to generate and deliver personalized advertising content in various Transport Network Vehicle Service (TNVS), raising effectiveness, and cost-efficiency of advertising campaigns.

Another startup is the OneWatt, a company that develops handy acoustic sensors that can be easily installed in a factory to listen for signs of machine defect or damage. This prevents unplanned downtime in industrial facilities that is commonly the cause of company loss.

PushKart, on the other hand, is an e-commerce grocery service that delivers the products that consumers bought on the same day. It connects businesses to consumers while reducing food costs and generating savings.

Finally, Qwikwire is a FinTech company wherein they process cross border payments into the Philippines. It allows companies to collect payments from anywhere in the world through a system they developed specifically for accepting and processing payments.

“There is nothing wrong with promoting a culture where people are willing to put forward their ideas and try it out. There are no guarantees with startups but it’s at least worth a shot. Pinoys have a lot of good ideas that can solve real problems. We still need to help them out and we should. There are people that want to help like DTI. Let’s come up with programs together that can support our startup. Filipino startup changing the world, that’s our vision,” Chan said.