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Innovative startup law awaiting Duterte’s signature

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By Charissa Luci-Atienza 

The bill seeking to provide benefits and programs to strengthen, promote, and develop the Philippine startup ecosystem is just awaiting President Duterte’s signature.

Camarines Sur Rep. Luis Raymund "LRay" Villafuerte (lrayvillafuerte.com / MANILA BULLETIN)

Camarines Sur Rep. Luis Raymund “LRay” Villafuerte
(lrayvillafuerte.com / MANILA BULLETIN)

Based on the records of the House Bills and Index Service, the bill, principally authored by Camarines Sur Rep. Luis Raymund Villafuerte and Tarlac Rep. Victor Yap, was trasmitted to Malacañang on March 27 for the President’s signature.

The proposed Innovative Startup Act of the Philippines aims to encourage the creation of innovative startup ventures desiring to enter the Philippine market.

“The measure seeks to eliminate the unnecessary constraints startup ventures need to hurdle to establish new companies and to adopt the best practices in start-up communities and tailor the same to fit the Philippine start-up ecosystem,” the authors of the bill said.

Villafuerte cited the government’s crucial role in creating a healthy environment for startups.

“A thriving start-up ecosystem requires a close collaboration between the public and private sectors,” he said.

Under the bill, innovative startup is defined as a registered business entity in the Philippines operating for not longer than 60 months from the commencement of its business operation whose core business function involves an innovative product, process, or business model.

The measure calls for the creation of an Innovative Startup Development Program which shall aim to provide innovative startups and support service providers assistance in research and development, and access to locally and internationally offered programs, international competitions and in events that aim to link them to potential investors, mentors and collaborators; and in development of policy and regulations to remove undue restrictions in the development, establishment, and growth of innovative startups by facilitating consultation with pertinent national government agencies.

The bill mandates the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) and other host agencies to develop the necessary department policies and guidelines for the implemention of the program.

These agencies shall also coordinate with the relevant government agencies for the provision of benefits and incentives for innovative startups and support service providers under the proposed Act.

Among the benefits and incentives granted to innovative startups and support service providers selected by the DOST, DTI, DICT are the following: registration benefits; grants-in-aid for research, development, and expansion projects to be provided and approved by the Secretary of the granting agency; exemption from fees and charges levied by the national government agencies for the use of equipmeny, facilities or serviced availed by the innovative start up; protection of patents and other proprietary rights of innovative startups and support service providers from infringement; and access to applicable benefits and incentives provided by the Intellectual Property of the Philippines.

The bill also provides for the creation of an Innovative Startup Visa, including the eligibility and application requirements, which exempt bearers from securing an Alien Employment Permit issued by the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE).

It also creates a Startup Philippines website that shall serve as the primary source of information on statistics, events, programs and benefits for innovative startups and related enterprises in the Philippines.

The DOST, DTI and DICT, in coordination with the pertinent government agencies, shall promulgate the necessary rules and regulations within 60 days from the effectivity of the proposed Act.

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