DTI mulls incentives for startups

By Catherine Talavera

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PHL EXPLORES TRADE WITH CUBA: Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez (left) recently met with Cuban Ambassador to the Philippines Ibete Fernandez Hernandez to discuss possible cooperation between the Philippines and Cuba, exploring mutually beneficial points between two countries. As Cuba’s universal health care system is globally recognized for its excellence and efficiency, Lopez discussed with Hernandez the possible collaboration of two countries in the field of healthcare and service.

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) is studying the grant of incentives to startup companies and investors in line with efforts to create startup ecosystem.

In a press briefing for the Slingshot ASEAN: Startup and Innovation Summit, Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said the first step in growing the Philippine startup ecosystem is to create ways to gather the local startup community.

“These are activities that will really gather everyone, that will really be a springboard for many ideas. Meet-ups with the entire community, that to me is a good incentive,” he said.

Lopez identified the slingshot summit as one of these activities, as it brings together startups, innovators and investors from across the ASEAN member states.

In line with further growing the country’s startup industry, Lopez said the DTI will study possible incentives to be given to startup firms and investors.

“Hopefully, we can look into incentives that probably can add even fiscal incentives in investing in these  kinds of activities, either an actual income tax holiday or probably doing it in the IPP (Investment Priorities Plan),” Lopez said.

Having certain incentives may be a way of attracting more investors into the startup industry.

“So we’ll probably study this, study the guidelines on which type of startup business can be given the right support,” Lopez said.

Asked if the trade department is looking at creating a public fund allotted for startup companies, Lopez said this is something the department may consider.

“For us to be able to help accelerate the local startup businesses in the country, especially encouraging innovative Filipino startup developers, then that would be a good program to consider,” the trade chief said.

Lopez said at present, funding for the startup industry is initiated by the private sector.

On the sidelines of the press conference, Lopez emphasized that public sector funding for startup firms is least of the priorities of the ecosystem since there are a lot of private companies willing to invest in these firms.

Trade Undersecretary Nora Terrado said to be able to create a public venture fund in the Philippines,there is a need first to build an ecosystem.

“...there is a need to identify that the startup community is about 500 to 1,000 to build an ecosystem,” Terrado said.

“When we reach the right time, we think the next step in the building of an ecosystem is  a venture fund,” Terrado added.

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