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Philippines Puts Up ‘QBO Innovation Hub’, Which is Its Version of Silicon Valley

This announcement gives Philippines a hope for a better ranking in the Digital Evolution Index.

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In 2012, IdeaSpace was established to provide support in the technological entrepreneurship in the Philippines by providing an incubator and accelerator program. Its president and co-founder Earl Martin Valencia tells that putting up IdeaSpace came with a vision of a Philippines having its own version of Silicon Valley.

“When we founded IdeaSpace in 2012, we wanted to find the next big innovative idea and create a startup ecosystem that embodies the Silicon Valley-mindset of using technology and science to create massive change in the world,” he tells.

Roughly four years later, this vision made a big jump in being turned into a reality: a national innovation center called QBO Innovation Hub is announced to be put up in collaboration of the government, the private sector, and the academe.

 Earl Valencia. Source: Smart
Earl Valencia. Source: Smart

“Now, we realize the dream to create Philippines’ own innovation hub with our initial collaboration with the government and the academe where startups and high-potential research can get the support they need in order to grow and thrive,” Valencia adds.

The Department of Science and Technology (DOST), the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), and the JP Morgan Foundation collaborated with IdeaSpace for this effort.

Capital for the innovation hub was shared between the government, giving an initial funding of PHP 30 million (US$665,000); and the private sector and academe, providing a counterpart funding of PHP 15 million (US$332,000).

Source: Idea Space Foundation
Source: Idea Space Foundation

The QBO Innovation Hub, which is expected convene all entities in the tech sector, will have two locations, both of which are strategically located near the country’s premier universities.

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Valencia shares that the strategic site should imbibe the spirit of innovative and entrepreneurial thinking among students, to tap into a wellspring of engineering and technology talent from these universities, as well as to address the growing interest of students in founding their own startups.

Following the innovation hubs of nearby countries like the Block 71 in Singapore and the MaGIC in Malaysia, the QBO Innovation Hub will focus on fostering the technology advancement and startup ecosystem growth. It aims to reach startups with viable business propositions and urge more micro, small and medium entrepreneurs (MSMEs) to collaborate and explore opportunities.

The hub will also serve provide a home for government agencies and academic institutions to exchange ideas and products while establishing connections within the investment community.

“It has always been DOST’s thrust to support technology transfer of R&D output, either through commercialization or deployment for public good,” DOST undersecretary Rowena Cristina Guevara says. “The innovation center, we believe, will be a critical and effective agent in delivering R&D results to the people.”

DTI undersecretary Nora Terrado agrees and underscores that their institution is supportive with the entrepreneurship and innovation in the Philippines to realize economic growth that is truly inclusive.

“Tech startups present a growing spectrum of opportunities for Filipinos to compete in the international stage as they create new solutions to pressing social and environmental problems. In the process, this will spur economic activities resulting from the value and employment generated,” she adds.

QBO Innovation Hub is named after “kubo”, which reflects the modern re-imagination of the traditional Filipino home and community space.

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We’ve previously posted three Filipino-founded tech firms that could be the pillars of the Philippine innovation hub. But it’s hard to admit that the country is far from reaching the status of the Silicon Valley, which is why Valencia calls for more partners to push this initiative forward.

This announcement gives hope for a better ranking in the Digital Evolution Index (DEI), which ranks countries in terms of their readiness for the quickly expanding digital economy.

Nonetheless, a DEI research by the US-based Fletcher School at Tufts University revealed that the Philippine is among the “rapidly advancing countries” in the global digital topography, together with China, Malaysia, Thailand, and Vietnam.

Sources: Tech in Asia | Enterprise Innovation

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