Dr Rene Catan of Arthrologic

IdeaSpace Foundation looks for ‘next big idea’

When orthopedic surgeon Dr. Rene Catan introduced to his fellow doctors some years back his plan to manufacture a local joint replacement, it was dismissed as a “backyard project.” When he presented it to a group of physicians last week, they snapped up shares, even at P12,000 apiece, of the company he built to bring his idea to life.

The difference? Catan won last year a nationwide competition for startup ideas conducted by the IdeaSpace Foundation, the largest privately-backed technology incubator in the Philippines. IdeaSpace has a P500-million fund for five years, pooled together from the resources of Manuel V. Pangilinan’s group of companies.

Catan’s project was borne out of frustration — of the increasing number of people who need joint replacements every year, only about two percent get it because the process is expensive. Parts for the total knee replacement can cost up to P150,000, not counting the costs of the procedure, medicines and other related expenses. Continue reading →

Cebu hackathon

Looking ahead: 2014 in tech, startups

Over the holidays, I’d often find our youngest kid, 10-year-old Lennon, hunched on the sofa watching YouTube episodes of a cartoon series on the phone. Once in a while I’d offer to download the episodes for him so he could watch it on TV. “Naah,” he’d say. Watching on the phone was enough for him.

Look around and you’ll see people, mostly the young, starting to use phones and tablets more and more for most anything – playing games, watching videos, listening to music, reading stuff and connecting through social networks.

Will 2014 be the year of the mobile shift – when more people use portable devices rather than desktops to access the Internet – in the Philippines? It has happened in many countries abroad. But are we there yet? I think momentum is building for the shift but 2014 may be a bit too soon. Give it a year or two.

The mobile revolution will be an exciting and disruptive time that will have profound implications across industries. It is this mobile shift and how we seize the opportunities that come with it that I look forward to the most this year. Continue reading →

NEVER TOO LATE. Cebuano doctors Niño Ismael Pastor (2nd from left) and Rene Catan (3rd from left) with PLDT and Smart public affairs head Mon Isberto (left) and Smart chief wireless adviser Orlando Vea after the IdeaSpace finals. Catan, in an interview, said it’s never too late to chase your dream. (PHOTO BY MAX LIMPAG)

IdeaSpace winners show why it’s never too late to chase your dreams

When orthopedic surgeon Dr. Rene Catan proposed to create a local and cheaper total joint implant, nobody listened.

Way mutoo, way maminaw (nobody believed, nobody listened),” Catan said Friday while propping up the huge P500,000 mock check he got for being one of the 10 winners of IdeaSpace’s nationwide search for start-ups.

Catan and his teammates, epidemiologist Niño Ismael Pastor and engineer Vernie Reyes, were named winners for their entry Mirand (Metal Implants Research And Development Corp.) in the IdeaSpace nationwide finals last Friday at the First Pacific Leadership Academy in Antipolo City, Rizal.

Catan specializes in joint replacements and finds it frustrating that people who needed their knees replaced refused the procedure because of the cost. He said he had been grappling with the problem for close to 20 years. Many people, Catan said, became aware of the procedure when former president Joseph Estrada underwent it.

NEVER TOO LATE. Cebuano doctors Niño Ismael Pastor (2nd from left) and Rene Catan (3rd from left) with PLDT and Smart public affairs head Mon Isberto (left) and Smart chief wireless adviser Orlando Vea after the IdeaSpace finals. Catan, in an interview, said it’s never too late to chase your dream. (PHOTO BY MAX LIMPAG)

NEVER TOO LATE. Cebuano doctors Niño Ismael Pastor (2nd from left) and Rene Catan (3rd from left) with PLDT and Smart public affairs head Mon Isberto (left) and Smart chief wireless adviser Orlando Vea after the IdeaSpace finals. Catan, in an interview, said it’s never too late to chase your dream. (PHOTO BY MAX LIMPAG)

Continue reading →