MANILA, Philippines – 25 Filipino tech startups showcased their innovations to investors on June 15 and 22 to culminate the IDEA and ADVanCE programs of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and PhilDev Foundation.
The Incubation, Development, and Entrepreneurial Assistance (IDEA) and Accelerating Development, Valuation, and Corporate Entrepreneurship (ADVanCE) are 2 of DTI’s pilot programs for startup capacity development launched to continuously strengthen the startup ecosystem in the country and foster an innovation-driven economy.
In his message, DTI Secretary Ramon Lopez reaffirmed the government’s commitment “to boosting more opportunities and advantages for Filipino startups through [their] programs for Trabaho, Negosyo, and Kabuhayan.” This includes fulfilling the mandates of the Innovative Startup Act enacted in 2019 according to Lopez.
The latest Global Startup Ecosystem Report revealed that Manila’s startup ecosystem continues to prosper. Its value increased from USD 584 million to USD 2.1 billion, reflecting the steady growth of the ecosystem amidst challenges like the pandemic.
“[The report] shows that our startups and tech-inclined MSMEs continue to pursue their innovation ventures in line with DTI’s startup programs and initiatives to empower and boost the potential of innovative enterprises,” DTI – Competitiveness and Innovation Group Undersecretary Rafaelita Aldaba shared.
DTI and PhilDev welcomed the first cohorts of the programs beginning this year to improve their market and investment readiness. The programs provided each startup access to learning sessions, mentorship from experts and business leaders, financial and legal support services, and networking opportunities with key players in the ecosystem.
In a testimonial, Anihan Technologies (AniTech) Co-Founder and CEO Gillian Santos spoke of how the program enabled her and the cohort to become better entrepreneurs, “Through programs like [IDEA] that actually help equip us with the fundamental skills and concepts, I now know that we have a better chance of surpassing the [valley of death] and creating a positive impact not just to the market we’re serving but to the Philippines as a whole,” Santos shared.
Cebu-based startup Hinulawanlab.com also commended the program for the mentorship they received. They were matched with Guita Gopalan, General Manager and Chief Revenue Officer of Vivanti Advantage, for the mentorship benefits of the program.
“Our learnings went through the roof! From marketing strategies, financial management, human resources, [Guita] was very knowledgeable and understanding. Through her, we were able to connect the dots – the dots that were scattered all over before,” Atty. Giovanni Gil, CEO of Hinulawanlab.com, described.
Joining AniTech and Hinulawanlab.com in the IDEA incubator program are 17 more early-stage startups from various industry verticals: Avodah Philippines, Bantay Chatbot, Basky, Bookuna, Britana Global Solutions, CarSurvey PH, Cleenvent, Dali Innovations, DigitizePH, Forent, Green Impact Global, iBoard Marketplace, Lifeprentice, Rafflexchange, SafeTravelPH, Sureplus, and Sociov.
On the other hand, the ADVanCE accelerator program supported 6 growth-stage startups with products and services aligned with the Philippine Development Plan’s strategic priorities: health, food security, digital transformation, education, and regional development. The cohort comprises Edukasyon.ph, Empath, InsightSCS, Magwai, Nanotronics, and TakeFive Outdoors.
In an interview, Rach Viray, Empath’s Special Projects and Partnerships Manager, expressed that the ADVanCE program helped them set a clearer path in terms of investment readiness, “Steph has been bootstrapping since the start of the business. Now she’s more open to talking to investors, but the direction is more strategic.” Viray further shared that they are interested in talking to angel and impact investors to grow and sustain their enterprise.
PhilDev Chairman Dr. Francisco “Paco” Sandejas congratulated the startups that completed the programs. He also urged the demo day attendees to continue working together, “After the Demo Day, we want to see more collaborations and more growth opportunities for the ecosystem to thrive. Let’s make it happen.”
The demo days mark the culmination of the IDEA and ADVanCE programs, and the startups are seeking funding and partnerships to upgrade their technologies, increase market reach, and scale their businesses. PhilDev and DTI jointly encourage their investor partners to invest in these startups to enhance industries and sectors such as the agriculture supply chain, energy, health care, and environment, contributing to inclusive economic growth in the country.