A Joint Administrative Order (JAO) on the implementation of Republic Act No. 11337 or the Innovative Startup Act of 2019, and the management of the Philippine Startup Development Program (PSDP) was virtually signed on March 22, 2021. The JAO aims to support Philippine startups and empower entrepreneurs for a stronger and more resilient economy.

Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) Secretary Gregorio B. Honasan II joined hands with Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Secretary Fortunato T. dela Peña and Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Ramon M. Lopez as signatories for the multi-agency initiative.

“With the passage of Innovative Startup Act, DICT’s programs and projects—along with the initiatives of DOST, DTI and other government agencies—were institutionalized, making all our efforts more coordinated, effective and efficient, thus, further fostering the growth of startups in the Philippines,” Secretary Honasan said.

The signing of the JAO formalizes the commitment of the three agencies to provide programs, benefits, and incentives for startups in pursuit of the objectives laid down in RA 11337. The law aims to encourage the growth of the innovative startup community to help revitalize the socioeconomic landscape of the country.

The JAO provides for the creation of a Steering Committee (SC) that will provide strategic guidance and oversight in the formulation, implementation, and development of the program. It shall be composed of three (3) permanent members, with the three agencies to each designate an Undersecretary or Assistant Secretary to fulfill the role.

Additionally, two (2) regular members from each agency shall be designated by each permanent member, for a total of nine (9) representatives composing the SC.

The SC shall lead the development, implementation, and updating of the Philippine Startup Development Program. It shall likewise monitor and expand the program’s benefits and incentives in line with the objectives of RA 11337, among other undertakings.

The DICT, as one of the lead agencies in the implementation of the Innovative Startup Act, shall focus on its Digital Startup Development and Acceleration Program in supporting ICT-related budding technology entrepreneurs with ground-breaking innovations and transform these into successful businesses.

Undersecretary Emmanuel Rey Caintic provided a brief rundown of the program as well as the DICT’s other initiatives to support PH startups.

Undersecretary Caintic mentioned that the program involves the development of the Startup Philippines Website, a centralized portal for users to find pertinent information; and the provision of a Startup Grant Fund (SGF) to provide initial and supplemental Grants-in-Aid (GIA) for startups and startup enablers that have passed the selection and application process.

The Digital Startup Development and Acceleration Program aims to meet the increasing and fast-changing demands of the startup ecosystem by providing an avenue for high-potential individuals to venture into startups; identifying key people in target communities to serve as innovative leaders; and capacitating identified people to be effective connectors in their startup ecosystem through trainings and exposures.

In doing so, the program aims to decentralize opportunities through an inclusive approach in order to empower local leaders in remote regions.

“Moving forward, it is a shared purpose of your DICT and its partners to further undertake initiatives that will empower and enable our startups, with the overall intent of achieving a strong Philippine Startup Ecosystem composed of great founders, compelling business solutions, strong community builders and relevant institutional supporters,” Honasan asserted.

Under the JAO, the SC is set to conduct regular meetings every quarter, and special meetings as necessary to ensure that the respective agencies are fulfilling their responsibilities in the implementing the program.