MANILA, Philippines - A slew of challenges at the regulatory end continue to hound the development of startups in the country which the government plans to address soon in line with its goal of making the Philippines the next innovation hub in Asia, Trade Secretary Adrian Cristobal Jr. said

At the opening of Slingshot Philippines yesterday, Cristobal identified key factors needed to establish a favorable business environment for startups in the country – a number of which includes policy reforms.

“We may have to overhaul many of our policies, from the simple things like you cannot register your corporation unless you got five incorporators. That has to be changed. You must be able to register a corporation even if you are just a single person or innovator,” Cristobal said.

Aside from having responsive government policies, Cristobal said right infrastructure, adequate logistics, and strong educational and research institutions are also needed to support the development of local startups.

“These are the kind of changes we need and for most of these, government plays a big role,” the country’s trade and investment chief said.

“Government’s role is clear. To support the innovation economy by removing obstacles that constrain its growth and to provide an enabling environment that will encourage and nurture new startups and innovators,” he added.

The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) is currently developing a startup development plan that would identify the weaknesses and strengths the Philippine startup ecosystem.

The agency organized Slingshot Philippines to serve as a platform in bringing together innovators, investors (venture capitalists) and policymakers to create an enabling business environment for an innovation economy that has been rising in other parts of the world.

Slingshot Philippines 2016 stemmed from the official startup event of the 2015 APEC Philippines hosting when the DTI’s Foreign Trade Service Corps.

DTI said there are at least 150 startups in the country to date with varying needs that ranges from funding to how to bring his/her brainchild to life.

“Filipinos startups are on the rise. The next big technology startup may come from the Philippines with entrepreneurs there seeking to address everyday challenges of people. We want to make sure that that next big tech startup will come from the Philippines,” Cristobal said.