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DTI sets sights on P250-million venture fund for startups

DTI chief Ramon Lopez

The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) is targeting to launch a P250-million venture fund this year to finance the establishment and expansion of local startups.

The creation of the funding program is in line with the Innovative Startup Act, which was signed into law in 2019.

On Monday, the DTI, Department of Science and Technology (DOST) and Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) signed a related joint administrative order creating a steering committee tasked with harmonizing the efforts of the said departments. DTI is the inaugural chair of the said committee.

Trade Secretary Ramon M. Lopez said during a virtual presser on Monday that the money for the program was included in the budget during its meeting with the National Development Company (NDC) last week.

The venture fund also aims to support product research and development, product manufacturing, sales and marketing of startups.

“Although we were affected by the pandemic and there was a bit of difficulty in completing the process, nevertheless, it is in our agenda for this year and hopefully we will be able to launch that venture fund to be managed by NDC,” he said.

Rafaelita M. Aldaba, Trade undersecretary for competitiveness and innovation, said the number of beneficiaries of the venture fund will depend on the capital requirements of the startups.

For example, she said funding may range from P5 million to P25 million in each applicant, which means around 5 to 10 startups will be likely granted financing.

Aldaba added that the draft guidelines for the venture fund are currently being finalized. “We will be providing equity financing through the startup venture fund to qualified innovative startups that have high-growth potential,” she said.

Currently, Lopez said DTI is working with the Anti-Red Tape Authority and DICT to establish the Startup Business One-Stop Shop. This initiative aims to facilitate end-to-end registration of startups, in addition to serving as a portal keeping startup-related information.

Aldaba said the DTI is also working on a startup ecosystem mapping to “provide a comprehensive and inclusive overview of the Philippine Startup Ecosystem.” The insights generated from this initiative, she said, can help the government in crafting effective policies and programs.

“Together with DOST and DICT, DTI is always here to support our startups and foster innovation and entrepreneurship among our people,” Lopez added.

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