Sunday July 22, 2018

New law to perk up startups

DAVAO. DICT Undersecretary for Management and Operation and Countryside Development Monchito B. Ibrahim said Senate Bill 1532 is one of the government's support to digital start ups in the country. (Macky Lim)

THE recently-passed Senate Bill 1532, also known as the StartUp Bill, is expected to institutionalize government support for early stage start-ups in the country, said a Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) official.

Late last month, the Senate approved Senate Bill 1532, the "act providing benefits and programs to strengthen, promote, and develop the Philippine Start-Up ecosystem."

Included benefits in the act are waived application fees, refund of fees for the permits and certificates, and expedited processing of permits and certificates. On top of this, a provision of P10 billion Innovative Start Up Venture Fund is also targeted to be available under the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), which qualified entrepreneurs can apply for.

During the press conference at the ICT Summit Thursday, June 21, at the SMX Convention Center, DICT Undersecretary for Management and Operation and Countryside Development Monchito B. Ibrahim said they are in full support of the Senate Bill and are just waiting for it to progress in the lower house. Ibrahim added they already have a number of congressmen authoring the House of Representatives version of the bill.

“It’s actually going to institutionalize some government support for the development of the start-up ecosystem in the Philippines. It would include facilities to fund early stage of start ups and this would involve, not just DICT, but as well as the DOST and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) working as one entity," Ibrahim said.

He added that Davao City in particular is producing good start up ideas which, on their own assessment, good schools in Manila cannot compete with. This observation is made from the annual start up challenge that DICT had been doing nationwide since the government agency had been founded. During these start up challenges, schools in Davao City such as the University of Southeastern Philippines and Ateneo de Davao University in particular has been excelling against other school representatives.

In a recent interview with ICT Davao president Samuel Matunog, he said they are hoping that with the approval of the SB 1532 digital start ups, which can compete worldwide, and not just nationwide, will be given attention.

Matunog also noted that the government's help should be sustainable as start ups have a high rate of failure at about 70 percent.

Ibrahim, on the other hand, underscored the need to "fail fast", today's buzzword meaning that failures are rectified immediately and not allowed to fester.

"Most of the start ups we know went through several stages of failure. The key here is to fail fast so that they can actually move forward," Ibrahim said.

In 2015, DICT released the Philippine Roadmap for Digital Start Up in the country. Some of the contents were crowdsourced and according to Ibrahim, the community themselves, specified the role of the government in helping the digital start ups.

"Funding is not the top priority but being the facilitator. Connecting everyone. It is through ollaboration and engagement with industry our private partners," Ibrahim said.