DTI signs agreement to commercialize startups

THE Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) said it signed an agreement with US accelerator Plug and Play Tech Center to help prepare about 40 tech startups a year to enter commercial operations.

At a signing ceremony on Tuesday, Trade Chief Alfredo E. Pascual said that the memorandum of understanding will help to support local startups focused on key industries.

“In practical terms, we plan to achieve two cycles of acceleration per year, supporting potential pilot and commercialization efforts of over 40 tech startup companies,” Mr. Pascual said. 

He said the industries due to receive such support are those likely to aid in the growth of industries considered pillars of the economy, such as the information technology and business process outsourcing (IT-BPO) industry.

“The program will concentrate on strengthening our IT-BPO industry through artificial intelligence adoption (and) empowering manufacturing industries through industry 4.0 technologies,” he added.

He said that the program will also support the growth of agritech and financial services. It plans to identify more priority industries.

Plug and Play currently has tieups with over 600 companies and “accelerates” the commercialization of over 2,000 startups annually. It has made over 2,000 investments, including 35 so-called unicorns — startups with over $1-billion market valuation. 

The program will also provide upskilling and knowledge transfer to companies and the public sector, he said.

The DTI also signed another partnership on Tuesday with the Benita & Catalino Yap Foundation (BCYF) to support innovation and entrepreneurship among micro-, small- and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs).

Mr. Pascual said the memorandum of agreement signed with BCYF will lead to collaboration in identifying candidates for the BCYF Innovation Awards, as well as provide training and consultancy services in innovation and entrepreneurship to DTI business counselors and MSMEs. 

BCYF operates Project Commerce, a network of technology incubators based in state universities and colleges. — Justine Irish D. Tabile