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Tech Hubs Seek Better Support For School-Based Startups

Tech Hubs Seek Better Support For School-Based Startups

A consortium of technology business incubators (TBI) from different academic institutions backed by the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) has called for better support mechanisms that would enable school-based startup communities to thrive in the real-world business landscape.

This is reflected in the memorandum of understanding (MOU) and manifesto of support signed by the Strategic and Collaborative Alliance for Leveraging the Ecosystem of Startups in the National Capital Region (SCALE NCR) and its partners following a two-day summit at Novotel Manila in Cubao, Quezon City last Oct. 4 and 5.

The move comes as many startup companies in the country keep attracting investments from venture capitalists, according to a recent press statement from the Technological Institute of the Philippines (TIP), one of SCALE NCR’s founding members and lead convenor of the summit.

SCALE NCR is an organization of TBIs funded by DOST, which aims to elevate the status of Metro Manila in the global ranking of city startup ecosystems, among other ambitious goals in the areas of research and development, technopreneurship, and innovation.

“The manifesto outlined several commitments among 30 signatories, including fostering a culture of innovation, knowledge sharing between the stakeholders, granting access to funds and resources for startups, and creating educational programs that encourage entrepreneurship,” TIP reported.

Members of the consortium also agreed to work together to streamline regulatory processes for startups, develop frameworks for evaluating the impact of their collaboration, explore opportunities for international cooperation, and promote an inclusive and diverse ecosystem.

“By nurturing innovation, sharing knowledge, and providing the necessary resources, we aim to drive economic growth, create jobs, and solve pressing global challenges,” an excerpt from the SCALE NCR manifesto read.

The two-day TBI summit gathered ranking officials from SCALE NCR-member schools and their collaborators from other higher education institutions (HEIs), public and private sector organizations, and representatives from local government units (LGUs).

In her keynote address, DOST-NCR Regional Director Engr. Romelen Tresvalles acknowledged the critical role that educators play in raising socially responsible individuals, especially those who aspire to build their own economically viable and problem-solving startups in the future.

“We recognize that establishing an enterprise that is technology-based is another level of challenge, and with the TBIs around, it eases the burden of our technopreneurs to find the path towards entrepreneurial success,” she said.

The Philippines is currently ranked at 59th in the 2023 Global Startup Ecosystem Index of research center StartupBlink. It has five cities in the index with Metro Manila on top–ranked 95th globally–buoyed by its thriving financial technology sector.

With this development, the DOST Philippine Council for Industry, Energy and Emerging Technology Research and Development (PCIEERD) encouraged SCALE NCR to replicate its success in other regions as well in terms of drawing investments and generating revenues.

 “There is an urgent need for all of us to reinforce startup developments in the region. That is our job as part of the ecosystem,” said DOST-PCIEERD Research Information and Technology Transfer Division Chief Russell Pili.

Other resource persons in the summit conducted learning sessions on how to access funding and investment opportunities, as well as navigate the intricate policies and processes of national government agencies, when it comes to establishing startup businesses.

Representatives from the investment offices of Quezon and Pasig cities, meanwhile, introduced summit attendees to the startup programs of their respective LGUs. Other speakers addressed the prevailing challenges for entrepreneurs amid an evolving business landscape.

Non-profit organizations such as Philippine Development (PhilDev) and IdeaSpace Foundations, alongside investors and accelerators, shared their pieces of advice and winning strategies to ensure the success of startup ventures in different fireside chats.

The summit also featured different startup founders in the spotlight, pitching their enterprises to all interested investors, including DALA Smart Lockbox of TIP Manila assistant professor and engineer Jennalyn Mindoro. 

TIP Quezon City Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Cynthia Llanes signed the SCALE NCR MOU together with dignitaries from other participating HEIs and TBIs including Adamson University (AdU), Mapua University, University of the Philippines-Diliman (UPD), University of Santo Tomas (UST), Miriam College (MC), De La Salle University (DLSU) Animo Labs Foundation, Inc., and IdeaSpace Foundation, Inc.

“We are here to be a force of unity, innovation, and growth... Together, we can help SCALE NCR be a beacon for startups and create a fertile ground for new ideas and solutions,” said engineer Shearyl Arenas of the TIP Nurture Innovation Technology Revolution Office (NITRO).

SCALE NCR involves the following DOST-funded TBIs: T.I.P. NITRO, DLSU Animo Labs Foundation, Inc., UST TOMASInno Center, Mapua Think and Tinker Laboratory, AdU Neo Science and Technology Incubation Center (NEST), UPD UPSCALE Innovation Hub, MC Technology Business Incubator, and QBO Innovation Hub.