INDUSTRY stakeholders welcomed the senate’s approval of the Innovative Start-up Bill, saying this would push the country’s position in the innovation front and produce a new breed of enterprises fitting this tech-driven economy.
Senate Bill No. 1532, or the “Act Providing Benefits and Programs to Strengthen, Promote, and Develop the Philippine Startup Ecosystem,” was approved with 18 affirmative votes, no negative vote, and zero abstention in the Senate last Wednesday.
Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Cebu Director Ma. Elena Arbon said they are excited the bill will finally become a law as it would “provide the needed support to move forward current initiatives to push innovation in the country and to develop a new breed of enterprises ready for the 21st century and industry 4.0.”
Authored by Sen. Paolo Benigno Aquino IV, the measure seeks to support innovative startups through financial subsidies like tax breaks and grants, easier business registration procedures and technical assistance and training programs.
Aquino welcomed the passage of the measure in the Senate as it would “empower Filipino innovators and entrepreneurs with a heart for nation-building.” Arbon said the industry needs a lot of government and private sector support to push digital transformation in business processes and models, especially for brick and mortar businesses.
“The startup bill will provide the necessary ‘oxygen’ to allow our budding startup ecosystem to breathe and hopefully generate commercially viable startups if not unicorns,” said Arbon.
“It sets us in the right direction and also sends a strong message that the government is aware and is doing something about it,” she added.
Cebu is positioning itself as an innovation island in the digital space.
Arbon added the bill will strengthen the startup ecosystem in Cebu and attract the big startup funders into the country.
Cebuano techno-preneur Vince Loremia said the Senate’s approval of the bill is a welcome development for the industry, which has long been clamoring for incentives and other tax perks.
“We’ve been discussing this with some other stakeholders on different events and occasions such as Geeks On A Beach. We are just so glad that finally, little by little, our efforts came into fruition,” said Loremia.
He identified government incentives and grants, talents and mentors as among the crucial elements to make the country’s startup industry flourish.
“With this bill, we are tackling and solving the first major obstacles of having innovative startups,” he said.
Under the bill, the benefits and incentives will be provided by the Department of Science and Technology, Department of Information and Communications Technology, and/or the Department of Trade and Industry under the program.
Benefits will include waived application fees, refund of fees for the permits and certificates, and expedited processing of permits and certificates.
The measure also includes a provision for a P10-billion Innovative Startup Venture Fund, to be administered by the DOST, that entrepreneurs can apply for.