Makati — “The Innovative Startup Act is part of President Rodrigo Duterte’s vision of a comfortable life for all Filipinos. DTI commits to implement the law to foster an environment conducive to smarter entrepreneurs,” remarked Department of Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon Lopez.
The recently signed Republic Act 11337 or Innovative Startup Act hopes to fuel startups and startup enablers by providing incentives such as travel grants, access to a Startup Venture Fund, and assistance in getting visas and business permits.
In addition to the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) and the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) are the host agencies to implement the Philippine Startup Development Program, largely composed of programs, benefits and incentives for the startup community.
“There is so much entrepreneurial potential, talent, motivation, and optimism of our young population. With the current strong momentum for collaboration between and among government, academe, and industry and the comprehensive fiscal and non–fiscal support of RA 11337, we will be able to grow and develop our startup ecosystem and catch up with our neighbors especially in creating billion-dollar startups,” said DTI Undersecretary for Competitiveness and Innovation Rafaelita Aldaba.
To avail of these incentives, startups and startup enablers have to pass an application and selection process to be determined in the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR). The first meeting to craft the IRR was held on 22 July at the University of the Philippines Diliman. Present at the meeting were DTI Undersecretary Rafaelita Aldaba, DOST Undersecretary Rowena Guevara and DICT Dir. Emmy Lou Delfin, as well as other officials and representatives from each agency.
Business registration assistance
Selected startups and enablers will get subsidies for business registration fees. The host agencies will also endorse their applications to be prioritized or expedited. The three agencies will also provide subsidies for use of office spaces, facilities, equipment, services, and repurposed government spaces.
Travel assistance, startup visas
For startups and enablers participating in local and international events, DTI, DOST, and DICT can help expedite travel documents and provide subsidies for airfare, baggage, per diem allowance, and other travel expenses.
The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) will create startup visas for owners, employees, and investors valid for five years and renewed with three-year validity. Startup visa holders will be exempted from getting an Alien Employment Permit issued by the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE)
Meanwhile, Filipino startup executives will be eligible to apply for an APEC Business Travel Card which streamlines the entry process for APEC-member countries for short business trips.
The host agencies will set up a startup grant fund to provide grants-in-aid for research and development, training, and expansion plans. DTI and the National Development Company (NDC) will also create a Startup Venture Fund to invest in startups based in the Philippines.
Startup Philippines website, education programs
The DICT will launch a Startup Philippines website, where beneficiaries can inquire about the progress of all incentives awarded under the law. The website will also contain a database of startups and enablers as well as relevant statistics, reports, and studies.
Under the new law, the Department of Education (DepEd), Commission on Higher Education (CHED), and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) are also directed to integrate entrepreneurship in their curricula and provide grants and incentives to academic institutions.