Many startups in the Philippines lack the preparedness to overcome innovation-related challenges
Startups and micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) are poised to be major drivers of the Philippines’ economic growth for decades to come. The Asian Development Bank sees startups in particular to play a crucial role in the economic recovery of the country after the Covid-19 pandemic and in achieving the government’s goal of transforming the Philippines into a high-income economy by 2040. Thus, the Philippine government has supported and developed the local startup ecosystem through programs and initiatives under the Innovative Startup Act.
One flagship program is the Startup Grant Fund, spearheaded by the Department of Science and Technology (DOST). It is a program that aims to help startups overcome research and development roadblocks, strengthen their intellectual property and establish initial market traction by providing them with funding support.
However, data from four cycles of the program revealed low applicant turnout rates and a low 25% funding approval rate. DOST attributed the problem to the startups’ low readiness for the program – particularly in preparing and defending their business proposals to the program committee.
To address this challenge, DOST’s Philippine Council for Industry, Energy, and Emerging Technology (PCIEERD) partnered with the Embiggen Innovation Institute to prepare prospective Startup Grant Fund applicants for the program.
DOST and Embiggen determined that the best way to equip prospective applicants with the skills and resources they need to successfully apply for the Startup Grant Fund program is through a comprehensive innovation bootcamp.
Embiggen led twelve 6-hour in-person innovation bootcamps, four each in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao, plus an additional four 3-hour virtual bootcamp sessions. The bootcamps tackled the following topics:
- Value proposition development
- Innovation frameworks & business models
- Business plan and implementation strategy development
- Business case development
- Presentation & pitching business cases
Over 100 startup founders, representing 37 startups nationwide joined the innovation bootcamp. These startups were involved in various industries including e-commerce, agri-tech, fintech, education, telecommunications, and logistics.
A key component of the program was the assessment of the startups’ business cases by Embiggen’s innovation experts. This feedback allows the startup founders to improve their business cases before submitting their pitch to the next round of applications for DOST’s Startup Grant Fund program.
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A stronger and more prepared startup ecosystem
Embiggen’s innovation bootcamps have helped participants strengthen their applications for DOST’s Startup Grant Fund – giving them a higher chance of acceptance into the program.
Even if the startups aren’t accepted into the program, the skills, resources, and feedback the participants gained from the bootcamp will allow them to grow their businesses in the long run.
Around 45 startups applied for the Startup Grant Fund application cycle immediately following bootcamp – more than the average of 38 applicants in previous cycles. However, the data on the success rate of the current program cycle is available yet as applicants are still being evaluated by DOST.
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