15 PH-Japanese startups pitch innovative solutions

Fifteen Philippine and Japanese startups pitched their innovative solutions that seek to address technological challenges faced by local government units (LGUs) in disaster risk management, education, healthcare, and agriculture, among others.

The startups made their pitch at the Philippines-Japan Startup Pitch: Empowering Local Communities through Innovation, business to government (B2G) matching activity organized by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) in partnership with the Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry (METI) of Japan, and the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Manila last Nov. 22, at the Makati Diamond Residences. This is part of the Philippine Startup Week 2023 celebration.

It could be recalled that DTI conducted a Social Challenges Survey in various LGUs across Regions I, II, III, IV-A, CAR, and NCR from August to September 2023 to identify urgent social issues, and selected 15 startups to provide solutions.

These include five Philippine startups, namely, Mylo; Lycan Motorcycles; Fish-i Analytics; Agro-DigitalPH; and Dali Innovations; and 10 Japanese startups, namely, Spectee; Aster; Aerosense; Mamoru; LearningBOX; Any-Edge; Instalimb; Zip Infrastructure; OceanEyes; and Sagri.

The 15 startups actively pitched their innovative solutions for critical areas such as disaster risk management, education, healthcare, traffic and urban mobility, fishery resource development, and agriculture.

A total of 140 participants coming from LGUs, government agencies, and private organizations were engaged in a networking zone for an in-depth discussion among the startups to foster partnerships, developments, and investments for both the Philippines and Japan.

Speaking at the event, DTI Competitiveness Bureau Director Lilian G. Salonga expressed her hope for the great impact that the event will bring in fostering the growth of the startup ecosystem within the region.

“Witnessing game-changing technologies that will shape our future, we hope to leverage their potential and discover solutions that will not only address local issues but also contribute to solving global challenges,” she said.  

For his part, METI Japan Trade Policy Bureau Deputy Director-General Yoshikawa Tetsushi elaborated on burgeoning Philippines-Japan economic relations, highlighting the potential of the Philippines to achieve high economic growth.

“The Philippines has the second largest population in the ASEAN region, with over 100 million people, and the second youngest median age in ASEAN at 24.5 years, making it home to a wealth of talented human resource,” he said.

Sharing their concept of “co-creation,” which is the root of this initiative, Tetsushi shared their belief that one form of co-creation is to create innovation in collaboration with startups, as innovation is the key to growth, and startups are the driving force behind innovation.

Based on the Gobi-Core Philippines’ report launched last Nov. 20, some of the major challenges in the country’s startup ecosystem, according to the surveyed founders, include lack of funding opportunities, particularly government support; difficulty in overcoming regulatory hurdles; and lack of educational opportunities.

However, the report revealed that entrepreneurs in the Philippines are leveraging challenges to develop creativity and fundraising strategies, with many choosing to incorporate outside the country for regulatory ease and investor confidence.

Meanwhile, DTI Competitive and Innovation Undersecretary Rafaelita Aldaba said that the government is focusing its efforts on addressing the issues and accelerating the growth of the country’s startup ecosystem.

These efforts include forming a larger, coordinated ecosystem, stronger corporate sector linkages, and promotion of technology entrepreneurship; increased early-stage funding; improved startup quality; and global connectivity through investment and knowledge exchange programs.

With all these plans, Aldaba said that the government is seeing an impressive startup ecosystem growth valued at $10 billion for the next five years.