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Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Conference to tackle slow connectivity, Internet of Things

IT seems that the new administration will not be the only proponent of change in the country.

In the fourth installment of the annual Geeks On A Beach (GOAB) conference, startup communities are urged to lead the change in making the Philippines a global technology leader.

With the theme, “Empowering startups, leading change,” GOAB 4 will be held at the Bellevue Resort in Panglao Island, Bohol from Aug. 25 to 26.

In a press conference yesterday, TechTalks.ph founder Tina Amper said GOAB is a tool for participants to foster connections to accelerate their business.

“GOAB facilitates connections between those of us here in the Philippines who are building startups, who are tech leaders, along with all the international speakers and partners that we invited to come to Philippines,” she said.

The 4th GOAB is the first startup event that will be held after the creation of the Department of Information and Communication Technology (DICT), Visayas Cluster 2 Representative Antonio Edward E. Padre said.

“DICT will be here to support. In due time, we will be establishing an incubation center here in Cebu and one also in Tacloban for startups and other industry workers to work for free.”

DICT, according to Senator Paolo Benigno “Bam” Aquino IV, will also look into the issue of slow and expensive Internet the country, which is an important resource for startups. Aquino is the chairman of the Senate committee on trade, commerce and entrepreneurship.

“One very relevant activity that we did in the 16th Congress, which I know a lot of the startups really liked, was our investigation on the slow and expensive Internet in the Philippines. I am really happy that the DICT has been formed. Of course, the ICTO group was with us during all of those hearings and now that they are there, at least we know on the executive side that there is a focus on our Internet issues,” Aquino said.

Amper, however, said that the country has been able to create startups despite the Internet problem. “It’s just a little bit harder but in that case, we (startup community) build solutions that we can use, that we need in our situation.”

During the press conference, Aquino also discussed about the bills he is pushing to be passed in the 17th congress for the government to support startups.

He said the first version of the Startup Bill, which was presented at the GOAB 3 last year, had evolved. The Startup Bill that proposed to exempt startups from taxes in its first two years, had now been expanded after consultations done with the startup community.

“We found that the support we need to give them is more than just tax reform. Now, there’s provisions on making it easier for foreigners to come in. We also have provisions on creating spaces for startups. We look at different aspects that could make the startups have an easier time,” Aquino said.

Asked how confident he is that the bill will be passed, Aquino said, “I am confident because why would you stop a bill that supports one of the most valuable communities in the Philippines? I’m almost sure we can get the support of DTI, of DOST, possibly DICT as well. If the relevant agencies will be very supportive about it, I don’t really see why we won’t be able to pass it.”

Another bill that Aquino just filed is the Small Business Tax Reform Bill, which will exempt micro and small enterprises from paying taxes for three years. After the third year, these enterprises will start paying but will be using simple computations. The bill also requires them to transact with the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) only once a year.

Aquino said the bill will give micro and small enterprises space to grow “before government starts knockiug on their door.”

“All these bills and activities will all come together to create a business environment in our country,” Aquino said.

Amper called on those interested in entrepreneurship and technology to join the event. “At the end of the day, we are doing this because we believe in the Filipino. We believe in the Filipino tech talent and its ability to cross all kinds of barriers,” she said.

Amper said GOAB 4 will include sessions like tech conferences, which will discuss topics like the Internet of Things (IoT).

“We are also going to have a business track, which will help the existing business people to use technology tools to enhance their business, and founders track are sessions that will help our startup founders strengthen their skills or sales skills and improve their connections,” she added.

GOAB 4 will also hold its second international pitching competition. It is open to startups less than three years old that are already in production.

“In terms of the networking sessions, we will focus on the core tracks that we have, so technology, design, and gaming is a new area we are looking into,” Sym.ph CEO Dave Overton added. Ianne Clarisse A. Ortiz, UP Cebu Intern

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