The Philippine delegation to Singapore showcased the capability of home-grown startups championing Science, Technology, and Innovation (STI) during the Singapore Week of Innovation and Technology Conference 2022 (SWITCH) at the Resorts World Sentosa Convention Centre on 25-27 October 2022.
In its third year of participation to SWITCH, the Department of Trade and Industry through the Competitiveness Bureau (CB) and Philippine Trade and Investment Center (PTIC) – Singapore led eight (8) Philippine startups that exhibited their respective innovative solutions at the Philippine Pavilion:
- 1Export, an AI-enabled platform for cross-border trade and logistics in Southeast Asia;
- Agro-Digital PH, a business model providing farmers an avenue to raise their income through end-to-end sustainable value chain solutions;
- Ask Lex PH Academy, a startup that intends to make lifelong learning accessible and sustainable for Filipino learners;
- MedHyve, an e-commerce platform where medical institutions can shop for medical supplies, equipment, and pharmaceuticals directly from top-level distributors and importers;
- PetBox, an e-commerce application with an in-house delivery system that provides its consumers with top pet brands while prioritizing efficiency and safety;
- Race Ya!, a digital platform where any individual can connect and engage with the community; as they gain access to events, and the marketplace, and track their athletic performance while getting rewards;
- Splitmo, a business model offering shoppers a more intuitive and flexible way to leverage the hard-earned credit on their existing credit cards to spread payments out over time; and
- Tier One Entertainment, a gaming entertainment company that operates at the intersection of media properties, esports, and creators.
The Philippines’ participation in SWITCH serves as a gateway to leverage the startups’ exposure to the overseas competitive market. The DTI, through its Startup Pilipinas Program, continuously supports Philippine startups to unravel their global market potential, gain insight by meeting other startups from around the globe, establish connections, seal business opportunities with foreign clients for expansion, funding, collaboration, or partnership, and become part of the Global-Asia Innovation Ecosystem.
Two startup delegates were given a chance to step on one of the event’s prestigious stages “SWITCH Global Stage”, a sharing session featuring innovation opportunities in Asia and industry trends attributed to, accelerated, and bloomed during the global pandemic. Tier One and Race Ya!, with their topic, “Sports and Entertainment: Industry Redefined”, aims to give insights to investors or anyone interested to pursue this industry about the potential of the Philippines for this market.
Ms. Carla Grepo, commercial counselor from the Embassy of the Philippines in Singapore and serves as the government’s representative in the event, opened the session by promoting the Philippines’ young emerging startup ecosystems and the government’s actions and efforts to sustain its growth.
“In terms of the ecosystem life cycle of startups, the Philippines is still in the activation phase relative to other ecosystems in the world, so there is a lot of room for growth and scale as we increase our resources and support for the industry to reach the next stage”, Ms. Grepo said.
Discovering opportunity amid the pandemic, Ms. Christine Ferrera, CEO and founder of Race Ya! stressed that, “It was a time to pivot, it was a time to accept this [the] challenge.” Ms. Ferrera also gave encouragement to the startup viewers of the program, saying that “we move towards allowing vendors and event organizers to use the platform to be able to connect wherever they are (users/sports enthusiast) in the world.”
On discussing their business model’s future on the loosening restrictions and the world’s eventual recovery from the pandemic, Ms. Ferrera answered that, “there’s a huge growth in digitization, people got used to using their smartphones, hence use it in registering or to join events, and/or find sporting things that they (users) need.” She added that, “It is good for the industry because automating the process makes things efficient for all the stakeholders”.
Expounding on above mentioned subject matter, Mr. John Gonzales, Director of Ventures and New Business of Tier One Entertainment remarked, “the pandemic is good for our business, [entertainment and online gaming] it is a way for people to exercise their mental health – working individuals, working professionals who tried their best to exercise in their homes, also tried to find ways to exercise their minds. We saw a massive reallocation for advertising and multimedia money come our way.”
With Tier One Entertainment gaining popularity in esports aside from content creation, Mr. Gonzales added, “in the Philippines, we launched the first-ever management course for the business side of esports (owning a team, operating a team, being an agent, being a manager, or game publisher)”.
Aside from the SWITCH Global Stage, various networking sessions were held during Conference wherein the PH delegates had the opportunity to meet counterparts from other countries including Brazil, Qatar, Malaysia, Canada, Korea, Spain, Japan, and China. Technology leader companies such as AWS, Seagate, DataStax, Meta, EDB, and venture capitalists were also present during the networking sessions.
The DTI, together with Brainsparks, TechShake, and QBO Innovation Hub, also arranged business-to-business (B2B) meetings, networking and pitch sessions with potential investors and partners to further maximize the opportunity for the startups.
Approximately one-hundred fifty (150) attendees from various business sectors met with the startups in the Philippine pavilion throughout the conference and around eighty (80) meetings were held between the startups and potential partners, incubators/accelerators and investors during the five-day delegation trip.