IdeaSpace Foundation, a non-profit startup incubator and accelerator in the Philippines, is ready to play a more regional role in the startup scene.
“The world has seen how the Southeast Asian region is becoming one of the most important startup hubs in the world, and the Philippines is well-positioned to become the region’s innovation bright spot in the years to come,” noted Earl Martin Valencia, President and Co-founder, IdeaSpace.
With the upcoming ASEAN Economic Community (AEC), the timing couldn’t be better. The ASEAN integration will involve the creation of a single trade market with the nations of Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam. Valencia believes that the AEC will create better market runway for technology startups to expand outside the Philippines and create new opportunities for unique Philippine innovations.
In fact, several IdeaSpace-funded startups have proven their innovative talent both locally and globally. TimeFree Innovations, a virtual queuing startup, has been successful in deploying its solution in the Philippines, and also Hong Kong and Malaysia. Tudlo, a disaster preparedness application, has been recently invited to the Future Innovators Summit in Austria. Lastly, SALt (Sustainable Alternative Lighting), a startup that develops saltwater powered lamps, was the only Asian startup that participated in the Top 5 Finals of the World Startup Competition. It currently has gained a lot of interest with Singapore investors.
Ideas come from everywhere
IdeaSpace believes that Philippine startups can expand to other ASEAN nations, and that the reverse also holds true. For its 2015 startup competition, for example, it has received an increase of foreign submissions coming from Singapore, Malaysia, India, Brazil, Mexico, England, Hungary, the UK and US.
“The ASEAN integration allows IdeaSpace to be open for more opportunities,” said Marthyn Cuan, Co-founder of IdeaSpace. “Our team continues to remain optimistic. IdeaSpace is not only limited to the Philippines. We’re definitely excited for our next batch of startups.”
Already with more than 600 ideas and counting, the IdeaSpace Startup Competition will continue to accept entries until January 15, 2015.
Plans for 2015
In response to the integration, IdeaSpace plans to attract more Philippine angel investors to the startup ecosystem. “There needs to be a stronger awareness in the Philippines about angel investing. There are still a lot of Filipinos who remain unaware what a startup is, let alone how to invest in them,” stated Diane Eustaquio, Executive Director, IdeaSpace. “Hopefully having this new street-level office space changes things,” she added, referring to IdeaSpace’s recent office move. “We want to have more Filipinos asking questions about what IdeaSpace is and what we do.”
IdeaSpace has also recently partnered with Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to build startup and accelerator opportunities in the Philippines for its MBA students. “We’re very fortunate to have these talented students helping our foundation out.” Eustaquio noted. The MBAs will be helping out the core team in identifying different incubator and accelerator models around the world and understanding which elements will work for the Philippine startup scene.
In terms of future investments, IdeaSpace remains consistent with its vision. “We’re always trying to find the sweet spot between social impact and technology,” stated Cuan. “We stand by our investments not because they’re scalable, but because they make a difference in people’s lives,” he concluded.