Gov’t to help PH startups get started, thanks to new law

Pia Ranada
Gov’t to help PH startups get started, thanks to new law
The Innovative Startup Act creates a source of funding for promising startups and makes it easier for foreigners investing in Philippine startups to enter the country

MANILA, Philippines – Those with innovative startup ideas can now expect some help from the government after President Rodrigo Duterte signed the Innovative Startup Act.

Also known as Republic Act No 11337, the law, signed on April 26, creates a Philippine Startup Development Program that provides benefits and incentives for startups and “startup enablers.”

Among these benefits is access to startup development programs (capacity building, exchange programs, training), linking startups to potential investors, mentors, collaborators, and customers both locally and abroad, and remove restrictions that hamper the establishment and growth of startups.

It will be the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), and Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) that will be primarily responsible for the program.

These 3 agencies are ordered to maintain a Startup Grant Fund to provide funding for selected startups and startup enablers.

Ecozones, visas

Other specific ways the law wants to help startups is through the creation of Philippine Startup Ecozones and the provision of special visas for foreigners who want to help or collaborate with Philippine startups.

The ecozones are supposed to provide a space for startups to grow and develop minus government regulations one would normally find outside ecozones. These ecozones can be initiated by local government units, the private sector, or the national government.

Three kinds of “startup visas,” meanwhile, are designed to encourage foreign investment and collaboration into and with Philippine startups by making it easier for them to enter the country.

The visas, to be issued by the Department of Foreign Affairs are as follows:

Startup owner visa – For prospective or current foreign owners of startups or startup enablers registered in the Philippines

Startup employee visa – For foreign employees of a startup or startup enabler

Startup investor visa- For prospective or current foreign investors of a startup or startup enabler

To get things started, the DFA is to issue “multiple-entry interim startup visas” valid for 6 months to one year which shall be issued for free to prospective startup owners, investors, or enablers. For this visa, they need the endorsement of DTI, DOST, or DICT. –


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Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada is a senior reporter for Rappler covering Philippine politics and environmental issues. For tips and story suggestions, email her at