A virtual signing of the Memorandum of Agreement on the Project Match took place on February 16, 2022 between DTI and Start Up Village, a one-stop company serving as an incubator and accelerator that enables startup companies to bring their unique ideas and business concepts to reality.

As presented by Start Up Village president and co-founder Carlo Calimon, Project Match is a marketplace and resource platform that helps in the digitization of MSMEs by linking them to startup companies that provide the much-needed digital solutions and technology, and thus bring about support for the MSMEs towards digital transformation.  “We need to bounce back faster after being affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The startup ecosystem in the Philippines is young but vibrantly growing fast and full of opportunities,” he said.

DTI-CAR Director Juliet Lucas affirmed DTI’s support, saying, “this is an innovative strategy of linking the startup companies to our local micro, small, and medium enterprises for the much-needed digital solutions, technology, and resources.  DTI shall give its unwavering support to our MSMEs because they are our major drivers of economic growth.  We commit our people and other resources to pursue many significant activities under the three pillars of the Project Match.”  The three pillars are access to digital solutions and technology, learning materials, and finance. More specifically, DTI will assist in developing and marketing the products.  In the long run, DTI hopes to bring the MSMEs to other regions and developed countries to benchmark best practices on start-up operations.

As one of the witnesses, DICT-CAR Director Rey Parnacio committed to provide improved public access to internet-related programs such as free wi-fi and trainings.  Accordingly, DICT will soon come up with a cybersecurity plan that would minimize national security risks that may affect the operations of the MSMEs and startups. 

DOST-CAR Director Nancy Bantog cited RA 11337 or the Innovative Start Up Act which provides benefits and programs to strengthen, promote, and develop the Philippine Startup Ecosystem, with DTI, DOST, and DICT as the primary members of the steering committee, to join hands with other stakeholders and firm up the national and regional startup ecosystem.  In line with this, DOST implements the One Store Project to expand the markets and the Small Enterprises Technology Upgrading Program (SET-UP) which contains technological assistance, training, laboratory analysis, consultancy, and research to improve MSME operations and boost their productivity.  Director Bantog said that DOST gives importance to innovation as a factor of economic growth.  With innovation, there would be more jobs, goods, and services.

As part of the Regional Inclusive Innovation Center (RIIC) and Project Match, Dr. Thelma Palaoag, KTTO Officer of the University of the Cordilleras (UC) and project officer of the Taraki Cordillera, invited the MSMEs to visit the research and innovation center at the UC.  She committed that Taraki center is there to provide professional, technological, and managerial mentoring.  The center has an established pool of mentors and is currently populating the database of MSMEs and startups to increase their reach and collaborative interaction with them.

The Project Match is one of the programs under the RIIC, which was established on December 9, 2021 by virtue of RDC-CAR Resolution No. 94, s. 2021.  The RIIC aims to upgrade and develop the region’s new industries by removing obstacles to growth, attracting investments, strengthening domestic supply chains, and increasing the region’s participation in the global/regional value chains.

The RIIC is lodged under the RRDIC, a support committee of the Regional Development Council chaired by DOST-CAR Director Nancy Bantog and co-chaired by UB’s research and development director, Dr. Isagani Paddit.  NEDA-CAR Director Susan Sumbeling serves as the vice-chairperson of the RRDIC, ensuring that all activities are aligned with the updated Philippine Development Plan and Cordillera Regional Development Plan 2017-2022.