25 November 2020 via Attendify

Ladies and gentlemen, magandang umaga po sa inyong lahat.

We are pleased to be with you today, even virtually, as we showcase Filipino creativity, innovativeness, and entrepreneurship during the Philippine Startup Week 2020. 

This year has been quite a disruptive one life because of COVID-19. But while many of us remain and work from home as much as possible, we recognize that our lives need to move forward in one way or another. The same goes for our country’s enterprises, whether long-established or just starting up. Business and livelihood must continue, adapt, and aim to thrive under the “New Normal” even as we find ways to survive, recover, and prepare for a brighter tomorrow.

It is in this context that the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) wishes to express its optimism and confidence in our country’s startups. This is because not only can they power up the “New Normal,” they can also create a “Better Normal” through disruptive technologies and solutions that can address the problems troubling our country.

PH as an Emerging Global Startup Ecosystem

Recent global reports recognize the positive developments in our country. Manila’s startup ecosystem has once again been featured in the annual Global Startup Ecosystem Report (GSER) by Startup Genome. In its inaugural ranking of the world’s top 100 emerging ecosystems, Manila is ranked 36th globally.

The GSER 2020 puts the value of Manila’s startup ecosystem at US$1.6B, with a total early-stage funding of US$102M over the last two and a half years. It is among the startup ecosystems in their activation phase, together with Busan in Korea, Calgary in Canada, Frankfurt in Germany, and Taipei in Taiwan.

Apart from our existing strengths in fintech, the GSER also recognized the Philippines as a dynamic e-commerce hub, which is an emerging sub-sector strength of our startup ecosystem. With domestic consumption driving our economy, the Philippines will be a key market for e-commerce, which is growing at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 26.4%. This is one of the fastest growth rates in Southeast Asia.

Another report by the European Center for Digital Competitiveness, the Digital Riser Report 2020, recognizes the Philippines as the top Digital Riser in East Asia and the Pacific. This report, which analyzes and ranks the changes in digital competitiveness of nations in the last three years, cited the Philippines for their initiatives expected to have a positive impact on their startup community.

As our startup community keeps on growing with more incubators, accelerators, venture funders, and other key enablers aiding aspiring entrepreneurs and innovators, we are on the road to becoming among the world’s top startup ecosystems in the years ahead.

DTI Startup Development Programs

On DTI’s part, we are lining up a number of new development programs that we are preparing to carry out in the coming months. These programs will complement those of the Departments of Science and Technology (DOST) and Information and Communications Technology (or DICT) as we collaborate on implementing Republic Act (RA) No. 11337, or the “Innovative Startup Act.”

First, as we will witness after these remarks, we are launching the Strategic MSMLE and Startups (SMART) Link Program. This program will connect Micro, Small, Medium, and Large Enterprises (MSMLEs) with startups or digital enterprises that can provide digital solutions for their operations. Second, we will roll out the Startup Acceleration and Incubation with DTI (StartupAID) Program, which will provide startups with customized development programs.

Third, we are preparing the International and Local Exposure Assistance Program (ILEAP), which will assist startups and startup enablers in participating in local and international startup events and expos. Fourth, we are also working to implement a Global Acceleration Program (GAP), which will immerse our startups in the global ecosystem to enable them to pursue global business development, fundraising, and other strategic opportunities.

Fifth, in coordination with the National Development Company (NDC), a DTI attached agency, we will start providing equity financing to qualified innovative startups with high-growth potential through the Startup Venture Fund (SVF). The funding is intended to support the startups’ expansion, plant and/or facilities establishment or improvement, as well as product manufacturing, sales, and marketing. The SVF will prioritize startups promoting MSME digitalization and enterprise digital transformation, including mitigating the impact of COVID-19.

Lastly, we will be establishing—in coordination with the Anti-Red Tape Authority (ARTA)—the Startup Business One Stop Shop (SBOSS), where end-to-end registration of startups can be facilitated. This will be contain all information on the legal and regulatory processes involved for a startup in accordance with RA No. 11032, or the “Ease of Doing Business and Efficient Government Service Delivery Act,” as well as other related laws.

Public-Private Sector Collaboration for Startup Development

Our efforts to grow and develop our startup ecosystem has been a product of the fruitful collaboration between the government and our partners in the private sector. We have always recognized that it is only by working together—in the Filipino spirit of Bayanihan—that we should provide support to our startup enterprises.

Foremost of this manifestation is the public-private partnership of the QBO Innovation Hub, which is our collaboration with IdeaSpace Foundation, JP Morgan, and DOST. QBO is among our country’s leading startup incubators and a key partner in nurturing our ecosystem. Among notable startups that were supported by QBO include 1Export, Admov, Antipara Exploration, Container Living, Cropital, ECFulfill, Kumu, OneWatt, Rumarocket, and Vesl. These are the startups that are bringing innovative progress to the Philippines and solving societal problems.

We wish to thank QBO for once again co-organizing the Philippine Startup Week with DTI, DOST, and DICT and coordinating the various community events this week. QBO is also supporting various startup activities in our regions, including DTI region 7’s StartupIslandPH.

Another key partnership we have is with the Philippine Exporters Confederation (PhilExport). They have been actively supporting our Startup Pinay Program, which is a focused track for women-founded and women-led technology startups and encourages more women representation in our startup ecosystem. Since launching in 2017, Startup Pinay has promoted 26 female-led startups internationally through outbound business missions and international events. One of these is 1Export, which won the SoGal 2020 International Pitching Competition.

We also wish to commend the various efforts that our local startup enablers have been doing despite the challenges of our current market environment. Among these enablers are IdeaSpace Foundation, Kickstart Ventures, Startup Village, Launchgarage, Brainsparks, Manila Angel Investors Network, and the Dado Banatao Incubator at the Asian Institute of Management (AIM).

In the coming months, we look forward to partnering with global enablers Plug and Play Tech Center and 500 Startups. We also welcome forging collaboration activities with other countries’ ecosystem enablers, such as the Taipei Computer Association and Enterprise Singapore. These partnerships with ecosystem enablers overseas are facilitated by DTI’s global network of commercial counsellors, foreign trade service officers, and Philippine Trade and Investment Centers (PTICs).

During the previous months, a number of virtual activities and events were organized by our foreign posts aimed at featuring our local startups.

Among these were Startup Asia Berlin, which is an annual startup event that brings together government officials, private firms, startups, and enablers from both the Philippine and Berlin startup ecosystems. Our PTIC in Berlin, Germany organized a panel discussion featuring Filipino professionals in the German Scale-ups, a pitching competition. This was later won by Plentina, a fintech startup led by IdeaSpace co-founder Earl Valencia.

Meanwhile, our PTIC in Sydney, Australia—in collaboration with the ASEAN Committee in Canberra—hosted a webinar to pursue a stronger engagement with Australia and ASEAN business communities.

Together with our PTIC in Shanghai and Hong Kong, we also participated in the China International Fair for Investments and Trade (CIFIT), where we promoted opportunities for investments in the country and collaboration in our startup ecosystem.

Lastly, our PTIC in Silicon Valley has been very active in pushing for collaboration with global enablers that can work with us in supporting the growth of our startups and the development of our country’s ecosystem. The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) we will be signing later is a result of these efforts.

Way Forward

As we look forward to the coming months, let us continue working together and build upon our key advantages in fintech, e-commerce, manufacturing, and digital services. As we deal with the challenges faced by our nation, our creativity, ingenuity, and entrepreneurial spirit will remain as our strongest resource.

The need for increased adoption of digital technologies will also be our means to sustain our economic growth and competitiveness, especially in the post-COVID years. The digital products and services offered by startups will be the vital bloodlines and channels in transitioning our enterprises, especially our MSMEs, towards a smart, sustainable, and resilient economy.

Let us also remember that supporting startups and innovation will provide jobs and employment for our people and attract more investments for our country. These will help our people and realize the promise of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte to give them a better and more comfortable quality of life.

We call on everyone to keep working as one Filipino creative community of innovators, entrepreneurs, and enablers. We also hope that today’s startups will inspire and empower our people to come up with the disruptive and innovative technologies that will power our future. Together, let us build a nation that is forward-looking, sustainable, and inclusive.

Maraming salamat po at mabuhay tayong lahat!

Date of Release: 27 November 2020