This year, Manila Economic and Cultural Office (MECO) through its commercial affairs section, The Philippine Trade and Investment Center (PTIC) in Taipei, organized the first ever delegation composed of Philippine tech startups at Innovex, the startup component event of Taiwan’s giant Computex technology trade fair taking place from June 4-8, 2018 in Taipei. The Slingshot Philippines Pavilion at Innovex was officially opened by MECO Chairman and Resident Representative Angelito T. Banayo, in a simple ribbon-cutting photo opportunity along with all the startup representatives.
The Philippine contingent is represented under the banner of Slingshot Philippines, DTI’s flagship annual national startup event initiative aimed at supporting the rapid development of the country’s startup community.
MECO and PTIC Taipei worked closely with QBo, a public-private partnership incubator between DTI and Ideaspace Foundation to co-organize the delegation and come up with an excellent selection of successful startups that are ready for international market expansion. QBO is the Philippines’ first public-private initiative for startups with a mission to create a globally competitive startup ecosystem in the Philippines. It operates an innovation hub and platform for the Philippine startup community to collaborate, learn, develop talent, and grow.
In 2016, COMPUTEX TAIPEI, dubbed as the largest B2B ICT tradeshow in Asia, established a new exhibit area called InnoVEX, to serve as the event’s platform for tech startups to network with global buyers, investors, and manufacturers. This exhibit has attracted over 10,000 visitors at its first show. Taiwan's technology innovations, adding to over a 1,000 ICT manufacturers and 40,000 overseas buyers at COMPUTEX makes InnoVEX a one-of-a- kind startup event which aims to accelerate the commercialization process, while also providing effective matchmaking for capital and manufacturing capabilities.
The Philippine Trade and Investment Center in Taipei, MECO’s commercial affairs section and the representative office of the Department of Trade and Industry in Taiwan has 4 major objectives in organizing a stellar Philippine delegation to Innovex: First, to encourage successful Philippine startups to expand to greater international markets, such as Taiwan; secondly, to encourage Taiwanese Startups to Invest and put up operations in the Philippines as their gateway to the 650 Million ASEAN Market; third, to promote closer strategic partnerships, for innovation, technology, product development & business collaboration between Philippine and Taiwanese Startups and lastly, to promote Taiwanese VCs and Angel Funds to invest in Philippine Startups.
Last October 2017, PTIC Taipei’s current Trade Representative and MECO Director for Commercial Affairs, Michael Alfred Ignacio, proposed a Philippine business delegation and participation at Innovex in 2017 and convinced the MECO board to support a Philippine contingent to Innovex this year. Mr. Ignacio, who was the lead organizer of the very first Slingshot held in Manila during the Philippine hosting of APEC said that “startups are in themselves, MSMEs, albeit characterized by their high levels of innovation, technology advantages and potential to commercialize. In addition, startups have a role to play in supporting traditional MSMEs in reaching their markets faster and leading the way for an innovation-led business mindset” said Mr. Ignacio.
“Taiwan is a global hotbed of high tech, leading-edge innovation and a global production hub for ICT and we deem it very important for the Philippine startup community to be well-represented at Innovex and Computex in Taiwan this year. MECO fully supports our tech entrepreneurs and our startup community and will continue to organize a series of sustainable events that will be valuable for development and market success” said Angelito T. Banayo, MECO Chairman and Resident Representative.
Since its first edition held during the Philippine hosting of APEC in 2015, DTI has organized Slingshot Philippines as its flagship startup event on an annual basis, with last year’s event being the startup highlight during the Philippine hosting of ASEAN. Fast forward to 2018, the Philippine startup community has grown in leaps and bounds with many of its startups having won international pitch competitions, and securing funding from global Venture Capital and Angel Funds among others. The country also gained its first-ever unicorn – a startup with a valuation of at least US$1 Billion -- in Revolution Precrafted, a revolutionary pre-fabricated housing startup, founded by Robbie Antonio.
The delegation’s startups are an excellent representation of strategically selected companies with a certain level of maturity and success in their business models employing state of the art technologies ranging from Artificial Intelligence (AI), IoT, internet of things, facial recognition and chatbots embedded into smart equipment and hardware with vast commercialization potentials.
Leading the Slingshot Philippines startups joining Innovex this year, is OneWatt, which has been shortlisted by the organizers as a semi-finalist (as of press time) at Innovex’s pitching competition with over US$300,000 of prizes at stake. OneWatt employs intuitive AI and detection of soundwaves to come up with an ingenious diagnostics solution that fits in the palm of your hand.
OneWatt’s devices are designed to be attached to industrial machinery and equipment as an effective diagnostics tool to predict breakdowns, and effectively have a preventive maintenance program designed to save factories significant amounts in repair and replacement costs. Futuristic Aviation and Maritime Enterprise Systems (FAME) develops general aviation and maritime transponders and gateways using smart but affordable communications technologies such as LoRa for use on small aircraft and maritime vessels. One commercial application with huge commercial application is in the Fishing Industry. The EU has a regulation on the global Fishing
Industry (Illegal Unreported and Undocumented Fishing) that requires all fishing vessels of companies that export fish and seafood products to the European Union, to have compliant tracking systems. The Philippines is one of the world’s major exporters of tuna.
Admov TNVS Advertising is a smart advertising platform and solution that employs the use of Artificial Intelligence-enabled Facial recognition. Designed to be used in TNVS (Transportation Network Vehicular Service) providers such as Uber and Grab, Admov captures facial and visual data of passengers via their own devices mounted in tnvs vehicles which accurately identify each passenger’s gender, age, and preferred clothing brands style to generate and deliver personalized advertising content, raising effectiveness and cost-efficiency of advertising campaigns.
Other startups have highly innovative solutions for eCommerce and retail:
Innovantage, employs the use of intelligent chatbots as plug-ins in the existing web presence of its customers. Their solution enables businesses to automate processes and service clientele by combining artificial and natural intelligence, creativity and process automation.
Pushkart is an online grocery delivery service that aims to ensure fast, convenient and safe directto-your-door delivery of groceries.
Exora, on the other hand is a smart online matching bidding platform for enterprises and industry players to connect with retail electricity suppliers, alternative energy resources and off-grid power suppliers to secure the optimal service provider contracts for its clients in terms of cost, and efficiency.
The startups not only developed strong business and market leads, but also generated a wealth of contacts ranging from possible funders to potential technology collaborators. OneWatt and FAME for example are now in discussions with potential product development, prototyping and production providers from Taiwan, whom they met at Innovex to help improve and streamline their respective hardware, technologies and product packaging at very competitive costs. For example, one startup currently spends an average of US$200 to prototype and produce their products, with providers from the Philippines with high minimum quantities as a requirement. The potential suppliers from Taiwan, are offering unit costs of only US$20 to provide the same service at minimum quantities of only 20 pieces per production run.
“If the business is technology-based they can compete in their country, let’s say in the Philippines, or in the United States, or any country. They can compete worldwide, they can compete with the big companies. Filipino entrepreneurs involved in startups can count on the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) which sees technology as a great equalizer.” said Secretary Ramon Lopez of the DTI at the last Slingshot press conference in November as part of the ASEAN hosting activities organized by the Philippines.♦
Date of release: 11 June 2018
Taiwanese investors remain bullish on Philippine business and investment opportunities particularly in the Mindanao region as representatives from the Taiwan External Trade Development Council (TAITRA) were recently in the country for a Business Opportunity Research Study Mission.
The Philippine BOI Extension Office in Davao, with Mindanao Development Authority (MINDA), Department of Agriculture, Department of Trade and Industry, Local Economic and Investments Promotion Officers of Davao Region met with the TAIRA representatives led by its Manager Dr. Albert Fan on January 19, 2018.
Dr. Fan informed the Davao stakeholders that TAITRA is looking for business partners in agriculture and aquaculture, two of Taiwan’s key sectors.
Trade Undersecretary and BOI Managing Ceferino Rodolfo said the shared optimism and confidence of Taiwanese investors in making their businesses grow in the Philippines particularly in Mindanao is a pronounced manifestation of the country’s inherent and competitive advantages.
He said that this positive development is a testament to the country’s sound economic fundamentals and sustained investor confidence that bodes well with the BOI’s thrust to further strengthen the country’s position as a preferred global investment destination.
Undersecretary Rodolfo also said that investment prospects in Mindanao remain rosy given the Php29.35 Billion significant investment projects registered with the BOI from January to December 2017. Of this investment value, Php15.25 Billion were from Region 12 (SOCCSKSARGEN), Php7.23 Billion from Region 10 (Northern Mindanao), Php5.43 Billion from Region 11 (Davao Region), and Php1.44 Billion from Region 13 (CARAGA).
The visit was in preparation for a planned Taiwan Trade Mission to Davao on March 2018 where TAITRA targets to bring in around 20 to 25 Taiwanese companies in the production and marketing of food processing and packaging machineries, green industry products and medical devices industries.
Aside from the trade mission, TAITRA and the Taiwanese Investors also plan to hold a Trade Exposition to showcase Taiwan’s State-of-the-Art agricultural equipment in Davao City tentatively scheduled for September 2018.
TAITRA is also interested in showcasing Taiwan’s premier, international and professional business-to-business (B2B) trading platform which focuses on the State-of-the-Art technologies for the field of agriculture in Asia.
TAITRA is Taiwan's foremost nonprofit trade promotion organization. The council is sponsored by the government and industry organizations, providing business consultation service and connect international firms with Taiwanese partners.♦