QBO Innovation Hub (QBO), a local innovation program for startups, concluded its fourth anniversary celebration in August. It is the country’s first public-private initiative for startups created through a partnership among IdeaSpace Foundation, an incubator and accelerator program; international financial services company J.P. Morgan; the Department of Science and Technology (DOST); and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).
DOST Secretary Fortunato dela Peña said during QBO’s internal virtual anniversary celebration that with the government, the program will continue to push the boundaries of technology despite the challenges brought by the pandemic. He believes that QBO Innovation will help push “the Philippines to be the top in the region for having the best and the biggest number of startups.”
Since COVID-19, QBO has been helping startups by moderating the free online platform #SupportStartups, among others. Started by venture capital firms 500 Startups, Cocoon, and Openspace Ventures, it houses information on startups’ promos and discounts to encourage support from consumers and businesses.
QBO has also launched other initiatives such as the Resque: Startups vs. COVID-19 Competition in July; the training program Bootqamp: From Idea to Fruition, to kick off in September; and its flagship incubation program Inqbation: The Take Off, which is accepting applicants.
Aside from promoting local entrepreneurship, startups provide innovative solutions to problems because they are anchored in technology. In order to fully scale and grow, startups often turn to incubators, accelerators, and other startup enablers to access different kinds of resources.
QBO supports 7,700 members and 421 startups through free programs and services such as introductory classes, workshops, and mentorship opportunities. It has also provided over P167 million in funding assistance.
Successful incubatees include Kumu, a live-streaming social app; Cropital, a crowdfunding platform for local farmers; and MAD Travel, a social tourism platform that launched a farm-to-table online delivery service in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In the past four years, the program has organized large-scale events such as the Tectonic Summit, a technology conference, and the first-ever Philippine Startup Week. The latter notably concluded with the signing of the Innovative Startup Act, which provides benefits to startups and startup enablers while removing constraints to the ecosystem’s growth and development.
QBO was also selected to lead DOST’s Technology Business Incubator (TBI) 4.0, which aims to elevate and upgrade university-based incubators through capacity-building activities such as training and workshops. Partner institutions include UPSCALE Innovation Hub of the University of the Philippines, Green Technology Business Incubation of West Visayas State University, and Ideya of Mindanao State University – Iligan Institute of Technology. — Mariel Alison L. Aguinaldo