STARTUP ACT STEERING COMMITTEE. DTI Secretary Ramon Lopez, DOST Secretary Fortunato de la Peña, and DICT Secretary Gregorio Honasan sign the joint administrative order (JAO) to create a steering committee (SC) for the implementation of the Innovative Startup Act on Monday (March 22, 2021). The SC will provide strategic guidance and oversight in the formulation, implementation and development of the Philippine Startup Development program. (Screenshot of JAO virtual signing

MANILA – The Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), Department of Science and Technology (DOST), and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) inked a joint administrative order (JAO) on Monday afternoon, creating a steering committee for the implementation of the Innovative Startup Act and its Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR).

Signed into law in 2019, the Innovative Startup Act (RA 11337) provides benefits and programs to strengthen, promote and develop the Philippine startup ecosystem.

The committee, which shall be composed of a total of nine representatives from DICT, DOST and DTI, will provide strategic guidance and oversight in the formulation, implementation and development of the Philippine Startup Development Program.

In her speech during the JAO virtual signing, DOST Undersecretary Rowena Cristina Guevara noted that even well-thought business continuity plans were not spared from the effects of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic as the pandemic's impact cannot be projected.

"Clearly, innovation is needed (for businesses) to survive," she said.

DICT Secretary Gregorio Honasan said his agency supports the growing technology endeavors of the industry, as well as promote the startups to stakeholders, whom DOST Secretary Fortunato de la Peña refer to as startup enablers.

"We need the startup enablers because this cannot be done by the government alone," de la Peña said.

The Philippine Startup Development Program shall support startups from the formation of ideas, product development, to marketing and expansion.

The DICT, DOST and DTI are authorized to provide the following benefits and incentives to startups and startup enablers who have passed the selection and application process:

(a) Full or partial subsidy for the registration and cost in the application and processing of permits and certificates required for the business registration and operation of an enterprise with the appropriate local or national government agencies;

(b) Endorsement of the host agency for the expedited or prioritized processing of applications with other government agencies;

(c) Endorsement to the Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines or IPOPHL for appropriate assistance and expedited intellectual property registration and protection, consistent with the law and existing rules and regulations;

(d) Endorsement to the Department of Foreign Affairs for the expedited processing of appropriate travel visas;

(e) Full or partial subsidy for the use of facilities, office space, equipment, and/or services provided by government or private enterprises or institutions;

(f) Full or partial subsidy in the use of repurposed government spaces and facilities of the host agencies as the registered business address; and

(g) Grants-in-Aid or GIA for research, development, training, and expansion projects.

"Nurturing the Philippine startup ecosystem is at the forefront of the government's initiatives in creating partnerships to promote an inclusive, innovative and entrepreneurial culture in the country. Funding opportunities for innovative startups for their R&D (research and development) activities is needed to ensure a resilient and sustainable economy," Guevara said.

She added that through the JAO, the DOST will soon issue its guidelines for the GIA for the DOST Startup Grant Fund.

"Through collaborations with the DICT and DTI, we at DOST believe that startups will spur economic prosperity and introduce technological breakthroughs that can improve our capabilities in fighting the effects of the pandemic," she said. (PNA