Thursday, June 24, 2021

DOST giving away P20 million in funds for startups

TO support local startups, the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) is alloting P20 million in grants this year.

Under the DOST Startup Research Grant, Russel M. Pili, chief science research specialist, said startups may get funding through the i2tech (Idea to Tech) and iscale (innovate and scale) programs.

i2tech is a pre-incubation grant for startups with early-stage prototypes or those that require assistance in product improvement, market testing, data gathering, and business modeling.

Meanwhile, iscale is for “more mature” startups in need of matching funds and require assistance in scaling up operations, testing of products for certifications and rolling out of services.

Pili said DOST has not placed a cap on how much in funding a startup can get. Minimum requirements include that the startup has been registered as a legal entity with the Department of Trade (DTI) or Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), in operation for at least one year, has a viable product and prototype as well as a proposal.

The Startup Research Grant was launched this year, but DOST is accepting proposals only until Aug. 31. This gives DOST time to screen the startup applicants who will receive funding from the agency.

“This is a grant. There’s no need to pay it back,” said Pili, adding that this is DOST’s way of complementing the startup programs of DTI and Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT).

Meanwhile, DOST is also slated to expand the presence of technology business incubators (TBI) in private and state colleges and universities all over the country for a budget of P10 millioneach year. Over the next three years, Pili said 20 more schools will host a TBI.

Under DOST Higher Educational Institution Readiness for Innovation and Technopreneurship (HEIRIT), the program equips academic institutions to plan, implement, and build their TBIs, which serve as a home to tech startups, with access to trainings and facilities at minimal rental rates, or a training ground for students who want to pursue technopreneurship as a career path.

Since it was first launched eight years ago, there are 14 TBIs all over the country. In Cebu, the University of the Philippines Cebu (UP Cebu) hosts a TBI that has been home to local tech startups.
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