By Jenina P. Ibañez

QBO Innovation Hub plans to take on board nearly 150 new start-ups in 2020 to address a shortage in the number of job-generating innovators, an official of the start-up incubator said.

“We noticed that there’s just not enough start-ups in the ecosystem,” QBO Operations Head Natasha Dawn S. Bautista told BusinessWorld on the sidelines of a media event on Wednesday.

Ms. Bautista said the current quantity and quality of start-ups are not enough to sufficiently make an impact, including spurring a significant rise in job creation in addition to developing convenient services.

“Imagine if we had a Grab [ride-hailing app] that’s Philippine made, and the impact to our economy, to job creation, to helping improve the lives of our Filipino families — so I think that’s what we’re looking for,” she said.

At present, there is no database that sufficiently counts the number of start-ups in the country, she said. Public-private initiative QBO currently works with 367.

“We hope by the end of the year we have 500… It’s a mix of both creating start-ups and looking for [existing] start-ups,” Ms. Bautista said.

Out of each hundred start-ups QBO works with, five to 10 are estimated to have been created through their programs, she said.

Many of the start-ups the company works with are in education, agricultural, and logistics technology.

Funding for QBO’s programs comes from an ongoing two-year P33-million grant from the Department of Science and Technology, along with private sector partnerships.

This year, QBO is working on several programs to attract more start-ups, including roadshows, start-up incubation programs, and corporate partnerships.

“I noticed that corporates here in the Philippines, they have their own little bubble… and they still have this thinking of ‘there’s a solution out there, or there’s competition out there, I’m gonna build it myself’ — but that’s not the thinking anymore,” she said.

Ms. Bautista said the quality of start-ups is improving, but developing experience will take time.

“Developing our start-ups, that’s what we’re trying to do — to have them at par with the rest of the world when it comes to their skillset,” she said.