PRESIDENT Rodrigo R. Duterte has signed into law a measure seeking to provide tax breaks and remove barriers to the founding of start-up companies.

The measure goes into the books as Republic Act No. 11337, or the Innovative Startup Act, after it was signed on April 26. The Palace released copies of the law on Thursday.

The law qualifies for incentives “any person or registered entity in the Philippines which aims to develop an innovative product, process, or business model.”

“It is hereby declared the policy of the State to foster inclusive growth through an innovative economy by streamlining government and non-government initiatives, in both local and international spheres, to create jobs and opportunities, improve production, and advance innovation and trade in the country,” according to the law.

The law creates the Philippine Startup Development Program led by Department of Science and Technology (DoST), Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), and Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).

Under the law, incentives, benefits, and special programs will be established for start-ups and start-up enablers.

The programs, benefits, and incentives will include full or partial subsidies for business registration, application, and permit processing costs; endorsement of the host agency for the expedited or prioritized processing of applications with other government agencies; full or partial subsidy for the use of facilities, office space, equipment, and services provided by government or private institutions; full or partial subsidy in the use of repurposed government spaces and facilities of the host agency as the registered business address; and grants-in-aid for research, development, training, and expansion projects.

Asked to comment, Ramon D. Escueta, director for Energy, Power and Water of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said via e-mail: “With the signing of the President, he brings the country in step with the more developed countries as far as creating an environment for innovation and transformation of the economy for the future. It also sends a message to MSMEs (micro, small and medium enterprises) and to the whole world that the Philippines is willing to adopt a culture of innovation and devote its resources to innovation that will make it competitive in the world markets.”

He added: “It presents a tremendous opportunity for innovators, inventors, startups, incubators, accelerators, academe, and capitalists in the Philippines to develop the necessary ecosystem for development.”

The new law takes effect 15 days from its publication in the Official Gazette and in at least one newspaper of general circulation.

The DoST, DTI, and DICT, in coordination with other agencies are tasked with promulgating the law’s implementing rules and regulations within 60 days from the day of its effectivity. — Arjay L. Balinbin