Tech hubs need support from school-based startups



The Manila Times


IN recent years, the Philippines has emerged as a promising player in the global tech industry, with a burgeoning ecosystem of startups and innovation hubs. However, for this momentum to be sustained, there is a need for collaboration between tech hubs and the untapped potential of school-based startups. Harnessing the energy and creativity of young minds can boost the growth of our tech sector. A fortnight ago, a consortium of technology business incubators (TBIs) from academic institutions backed by the Department of Science and Technology (DoST) called for better support mechanisms to allow school-based startup communities to thrive in the real-world business landscape. 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 the DoST that aims to elevate the status of Metro Manila in the global ranking of city startup ecosystems. “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,” the TIP said. 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. In her keynote address, DoST-NCR Regional Director 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. “We recognize that establishing an enterprise that is technology-based is another level of challenge. With the TBIs around, it eases the burden of our techno-preneurs in finding the path toward entrepreneurial success,” she said. The Philippines is ranked 59th in the 2023 Global Startup Ecosystem Index of research center StartupBlink. It has five cities in the index, with Metro Manila, which is ranked 95th globally, on top. Moreover, the DoST Philippine Council for Industry, Energy and Emerging Technology Research and Development encouraged Scale NCR to replicate its success in other regions to generate investments and revenues. Other resource persons in the summit conducted learning sessions on how to access funding and investment opportunities, as well as navigate the processes of national government agencies. Representatives from the investment offices of Quezon and Pasig cities, meanwhile, introduced summit attendees to the startup programs of their respective local government units. Other speakers addressed the prevailing challenges for entrepreneurs amid an evolving business landscape. Nonprofit organizations such as the Philippine Development and IdeaSpace foundations, alongside investors and accelerators, shared best practices to ensure the success of startup ventures in different fireside chats. How else can we unlock the potential of these ventures? One way is through mentorship programs. Experienced professionals from the tech industry can share their knowledge, guide the young entrepreneurs and help them navigate the challenges of starting a business. This exchange of expertise can bridge the gap between theoretical knowledge gained in schools and the practical skills required in the tech industry. Tech hubs can also help by giving access to essential resources. This includes co-working spaces, cutting-edge technology and networking opportunities. Such resources are often scarce for young entrepreneurs and by opening up these avenues, tech hubs can empower startups to accelerate their growth and development. Establishing collaborative initiatives between tech hubs and schools can foster a symbiotic relationship. Hackathons, workshops and joint projects can provide a platform for students to showcase their talents and for tech hubs to identify promising ventures. These events not only stimulate innovation but also create a sense of community within the tech ecosystem. Funding remains a significant hurdle for many school-based startups. Tech hubs can facilitate connections with potential investors and provide guidance on securing seed funding. By nurturing these financial connections, tech hubs contribute not only to the growth of individual startups but also to the overall expansion of the tech ecosystem. The fresh perspectives of the young in tandem with the wisdom of tech-hub mavens will result in a win-win situation for all.