The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) encourages venture capitalists to invest in local startups as the country continues to improve its global innovationindex.

On the 2015 assessment of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), the Philippines climbed 17 notches and now ranks 83rd from its 100th ranking in terms of global innovation index. DTI Industry Promotion Group (IPG) Undersecretary Nora K. Terrado sees opportunities to enhance and develop the country’s national innovation ecosystem.

“There is no better time for the Philippines than now,” said Industry Promotion Group (IPG) Undersecretary Nora K. Terrado on the current promotional initiatives for startups and innovation in the country.

Aside from the impressive climb on the global innovation index, the Philippines’ strong compliance to the intellectual property rights protection also poses a viable qualification to be the next innovation hub in Asia. On a regional scale, the country ranked 2nd for both patent protection and IPR protection in 2014.

PH aims to become the next innovation hubSalamander by H20 Technologies. Photo from H20 Technologies.

One of the country’s top Philippine innovations is the Salamander by H20 technologies, an amphibious flood faring utility vehicle. As the world’s first amphibious tricycle, H20 Salamander is a 6-seater urban flood utility tricycle that has two variants. One is electrically powered and the other powered by gasoline. Driven by the global crisis on climate change, Salamander was developed to address the call for reduced carbon emissions and flood problems in the country.

“There are stories of success in the Philippine startup scene. What we can do is to encourage these startups, link them to venture capitalists, and help them to improve their capacity to enter the global economy by creating an environment supportive of their persistence,” Terrado added.

With over 30 Filipino inventors holding 23 patents assigned to 12 foreign companies, DTI sees startups as viable catalysts to the information era. As one of its core objectives, DTI now aims to develop a new breed of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) through innovation.

“As we define the innovation economy of the Philippines, we would like to focus on coming up with new breed of SMEs. It will not just be about digital startups, but we will also explore the field of agriculture, biotechnology, electronics, e-commerce, among others,” Terrado emphasized.

According to the digital startup roadmap, the country is expecting 500 startups with a total funding of $200 million by year 2020. It can have a cumulative valuation of $2 billion. Furthermore, the development of an innovation ecosystem will also address the government’s agenda of inclusive growth through job creation. By 2020, the Philippine startup and innovation community aims to create 8,500 high skilled jobs for Filipinos.

In recent years, the Department of Science and Technology’s Information and Communications Technology Office (DOST-ICTO) has started its notable projects in capacity building of startups in the country. Since then, venture capitalists have shown great interests in Philippine tech startups and now consider the country as one of the top destinations for investments.

On April 21 to 26, DTI is set to hold SlingShot 2016 at the World Trade Center Tent. Design Innovation Talks which aims to equip, inspire and invigorate key players of the Philippine startup and innovation ecosystem will take place.

SlingShot is a program of DTI, through its Foreign Trade Service Corps, that caters to startup and innovation entrepreneurs in the country.