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Makati City Poised to be the Philippine’s Silicon Valley

In an initiative called Innovative Cities, the Department of Trade and Industry, Board of Investments (DTI-BOI) has partnered with the private sector to tech up one Philippine city at a time. It plans to link the local government units, the academe, and the private sector in creating multiple centres of excellence. At the onset, the City of Makati was chosen as the program’s pilot in the collaboration setting the premier city up to be the country’s homegrown version of Silicon Valley — the global centre of high technology and innovation in Northern California.

Specifically, DTI-BOI has partnered with Makati City’s Resilience Innovation Sustainability and Entrepreneurship (RISE) Certification Program and a public sector for technology movement to form the Innovative Cities Initiative. The Public-Private Partnership (PPP) aims to raise the Philippines’ innovation and technology quotient to strengthen local economies and grow their industries while focusing on making the country relevant in digitalisation and Web 3.0 conversation.

For Makati City, long a centre for the country’s biggest businesses, the move is in response to Metro Manila’s low ranking in the latest Global Startup Ecosystem Index (GSEI) which ranks startup ecosystems across 1000 cities and 100 countries around the world. Moreover, the global research highlighted the need for business-related education for sustainability and growth for start-up founders.

Makati’s local government launched the RISE Challenge, an incubator program offering cash grants 12-week entrepreneurship training, and a chance to pitch to qualified investors. The program should find greater success by involving itself in the Innovative Cities Initiative. On the other hand, the initiative should make a huge example of Makati for the whole country to follow.

Makati Mayor Mar-Len Abigail “Abby” S. Binay welcomes the new development. Her administration is notable for its progressive public-private partnership (PPP)-led initiatives on digital transformation making Makati a good role model for an ideal startup ecosystem.

I would like to invite all creative Filipinos to bring their businesses to Makati. Here, we provide a competitive environment, fantastic co-working spaces, tax breaks, business registration assistance, and a reliable mentoring program. Makati will even take it further by giving you an equity-free grant of PHP 500,000.

 – Abby S. Binay, Mayor, Makati

The PPP Initiative is eyeing to tech up the 31 cities identified by the Digital Cities Program of the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), the lead national agency in the country’s digital transformation.

DTI Undersecretary Rafelita Aldaba detailed how innovation and technology also support the country’s industrial policy. New technologies are drivers to achieve inclusive, resilient and sustainable industrial development using new technologies. She then enumerated some of the newest technologies worth looking into which could take part in the Innovative Cities Initiative:

  • AI
  • Augmented/virtual reality reality
  • Robotics
  • Advanced manufacturing
  • Internet of Things
  • Blockchain
  • Industrial biotech
  • Cloud computing
  • Advanced materials
  • Micro and nanoelectronics
  • Satellite
  • Cognitive technologies

Driving digital transformation into key cities should jumpstart the digital transformation of the Philippines. What is even more advantageous is the collaboration of the public sector and the private sector in the Innovative Cities Initiative. Things are looking good in the country.

Certainly, the country of over 7,000 islands has been constantly pivoting itself towards a more digital economy making sure it can make the most of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (Industry 4.0), albeit not as fast as everyone may hope. But the direction is there.

Good development is how the country’s central bank, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), is starting to look into a Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC), as reported on OpenGov Asia. The Philippines may not be the first Asia economy to do so but it’s sure is getting there.

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