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Philippines rolls out a roadmap for its startup ecosystem

Nurdianah Md Nur | Aug. 25, 2015
The roadmap envisions 500 local startups with a total valuation of US$2 billion by 2020.

In a bid to keep up with the global startup fever, the Philippines' government launched a framework for developing the country's startup ecosystem at the third Geeks on a Beach international conference in Boracay on 20 August 2015.

The roadmap envisions 500 local startups in the country with total funding of US$200 million and valuation of US$2 billion by 2020. It was drafted by the Philippines' Department of Science and Technology-Information and Communications Technology Office (DOST-ICTO), with the help of Kickstart Ventures, Ideaspace, entrepreneurs, startup founders, and the academe.

"This roadmap aims to develop a coherent and consistent strategic plan for the country's innovative ecosystem, engaging members of both public and private sectors," said Monchito Ibrahim, DOST-ICTO's deputy director. "Ultimately, our goal is to generate startups that drive economic growth and provide solutions to our society's most pervasive issues."

"This journey started a little over two years ago when we started asking ourselves what should be the right role for the government in the development of the startup ecosystem. We gathered members of the community and started a conversation. The community came up with a long list of things we need to do. We will work on very important strategies especially in the areas of policy and infrastructure," he added.

From the discussions with the startup community, the DOST-ICTO identified poor Internet infrastructure and the lack of enabling policies as common challenges for the ecosystem. The roadmap thus includes a review of the anti-trust bill to allow other Internet providers to enter the market to reduce the prices and improve quality of services. The government will also look at ways to reduce the time for incorporating, closing or dissolving a company, and provide tax incentives for startups operating at a loss in their first years.

"[The roadmap] is a good starting point. It's actually good to see that the government is heavily involved now [as] it's saying 'we want to be equals' and that means they have to adapt to [our/the startups'] pace," said Christian Besler, co-founder of Kickstart Ventures.

The roadmap will be the basis of a startup bill titled "An Act Exempting Startup Enterprises From Taxes Arising From the First Two Years of Operation." Authored and filed by entrepreneur and Senator Paolo "Bam" Aquino, the bill will help institutionalise the roadmap. However, it currrently focuses only on tax incentives.


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