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PHL-based IdeaSpace bets the next big idea will be from Southeast Asia


Silicon Valley may be the leading hub for innovation in the US, but local technology incubator IdeaSpace believes emerging markets like the Philippines have particular needs that only home-grown innovation can address.
 
“How we think about it really solves the biggest needs in the emerging market: Healthcare, education, efficiency... These are the things that the emerging market needs and this is something that somebody from another country, especially in Silicon Valley cannot think of,” Earl Martin Valencia, president of the non-profit foundation, said Thursday.
 
Dubbed the “largest privately-backed technology incubator in the country”, IdeaSpace picked in 2012, 10 local startup ideas to develop. Two of them are at their revenue stage, three are launching, and five are releasing prototypes.
 
Among the companies is Arthrologic, which provides affordable joint replacement prosthetics for senior citizens with osteoarthritis.

Arthrologic says on the IdeaSpace website that aside from being too expensive for many senior citizens, implants that are currently available "are larger than their actual knees."
 
Another IdeaSpace startup, PortfolioMNL, is meant as an online portal to the Philippine creative industry.
 
"Battling brain drain, it allows Filipino creatives to help ignite economic growth, improve living standards and attract and build a worldwide market for Philippine creative services, while allowing them to remain in the country," IdeaSpace said.
 
Meanwhile, TimeFree, an SMS-based virtual queueing system that alerts customers when their number is coming up, would probably book $100,000 in revenue this year, Valencia said.
 
“They just got a contract to deploy with a large financial services company in Hong Kong by January,” he said. This makes TimeFree a two-country company. TimeFree was developed by a group from Zamboanga.
 
PinoyTravel, an app and SMS-based bus reservation and tracking system, is now being used by Victory Liner, Genesis, and Five Star.
 
Three patents have already been filed this year, two of which were invention patents. Three or four more will be filed by the end of the year, Valencia said.
 
The process
 
Applicants will be screened through three rounds of judging to find 20 teams for incubation.

These teams will undergo a three-day bootcamp, followed by a six-week program from late March to early May that will help enhance their entrepreneurial, business and marketing skills, as well as build team dynamics.

The teams will also get grants of P50,000 each.

Of all the applicants--there were 690 last year--10 candidates will come from the Philippines, meaning half of the 2014 class will be taken locally.

“But all of them will come in using the same application form. Because we take out names (and) affiliations. We look at ideas,” Valencia said.
 
After this, the teams will present their prototype and business model before a set of judges. Up to 10 start-ups will be chosen to advance to the next phase of the program.
 
Startup teams that get chosen will receive P500,000 as seed investment. They will also receive mentoring and training, assistance with intellectual property protection, incorporation of all government-related permits, and an office space.
 
Aside from the seed investment, candidates will also receive a separate grant worth at least another P500,000 inclusive of business management classes, marketing and financial consulting, intellectual property consulting, and incorporation and business registration costs.

After that, IdeaSpace may provide additional investments of up to P5 million to graduating startups that it feels deserve increased funding.

The deadline for submissions is January 15, 2014. — JDS/ELR/TJD, GMA News
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