All eyes on PH startups in mega event for APEC

Chris Schnabel
All eyes on PH startups in mega event for APEC
The SlingshotMNL 2-day conference will be the official startup event for APEC, which the country is hosting this year

MANILA, Philippines – Tech startups have been steadily gaining traction in the Philippine economy these past few years. They are set to be highlighted as a prominent part of the country’s run-up to the Asia-Pacific Economic Conference (APEC) 2015, which the country is hosting.

The event on July 6-7 is designed to show and celebrate local innovation to the Philippine public and to the world.

The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) has adopted a policy of supporting small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and it sees startups as an integral component in developing them.

Proof of this is that startups were included, for the first time, in the 2014-2016 Investment Priorities Plan (IPP).

Startups, especially in the fields of software, animation, and game development are now eligible of Board of Investment (BOI) incentives such as income tax holidays and duty free importation of equipment.  

Lighting up traditional SMEs

Startup’s defining features, the mindset of constant innovation and recognition of the transformative power of technology, is the key to this, DTI officials explained.

“The government has recognized the high level of innovation and the use of science and technology which are amazing enablers for business,” said DTI Foreign Trade Service Officer Michael Ignacio at a media briefing annoucing the July startup event, SlingshotMNL, on Thursday, June 18.

Startups are themselves SMEs – the only difference is the former’s inclination to innovation and use of technology, Ignacio shared.

They also help traditional SMEs reach more markets through leveraging the Internet and smartphones to reach a global audience, he added.

This was supported by Foreign Trade Service Head Raymond Batac, who said that SlingshotMNL is aimed to jumpstart the flow of technology use toward traditional enterprises. 

“We hope that this event will become the spark to light up innovation. We would like to support traditional SMEs through technology because we know it’s something that they need, maybe this will start it off for everyone,” he said.


To underline this, the DTI partnered with the Philippine startup community to organize SlingshotMNL to be the largest event of its kind, featuring top local and international figures in the field.

It is also positioned as the official startup event of APEC 2015.

The two-day conference from July 6 to 7 at the Philippine International Convention Center will feature discussions and workshops, with leading figures in the international startup community like Startup Chile founder Nicolas Shea; Hugh Mason from leading Asian accelerator JFDI Asia; and Professor Richard Dasher from Stanford’s Graduate School of Business.

Heads of industry are also slated to attend, alongside startup incubators, business accelerators, and investment and venture capital firms from the United States, Latin America, and Asia.

Successful startup businesses such as Uber, GrabTaxi, Rags2Riches, AirBnb, and mClinica, and global entrepreneur support networks Endeavor and Ashoka will also be present.

The event will also serve as an exhibition for local startups to display their products and services. Apart from plenary sessions, workshops, and casual discussions, it will also feature a pitching competition.

FORWARD THINKING. DTI officials and members of the startup community debate tech startups' current and future role in the economy ahead of the big event. Photo by Chris Schnabel / Rappler

Year to shine

The discussions planned for the conference will cover a variety of topics to help startups engage meaningfully in international trade.

Topics include understanding hubs of innovation; opportunities in tech startup investing; redefining scale in the global market place; impact entrepreneurship; startup ecosystem support; and the role of universities in the startup community

The display of local innovation will be magnified with the world’s eyes to be trained on the Philippines later this year, said Earl Valencia of IdeaSpace, a prominent member of the startup community.

“This is our year to shine, APEC is here and everyone is asking one question: ‘what is our innovation strategy?’ This is when we can showcase who we are and how the world should know us in terms of innovation,” he said.

Registration for SlingshotMNL is free, although slots are limited and priority is given to startups and relevant stakeholders. 

Those interested may register at SlingshotMNL’s website. Updates will be posted on their Twitter account. –


Slingshot image from Shutterstock

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