PLDT, Metro Pacific setting up incubation, angel investment facility

The Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. (PLDT) and the Metro Pacific Investments Corp. are currently setting up a program that aims to support technological entrepreneurship in the country, officials said last week.

“If you look at the companies in the group, we are all heavy users and developers of technology. We all benefit from technology,” said Smart and PLDT public affairs head Ramon Isberto.

Isberto said the program is aimed at developing “technopreneurship” and was decided in a management conference a month ago. The program is “one of the projects with very high-level backing,” said Isberto.

He said companies in the group are setting up a fund for the “angel investor” component of the project.

“Can we build products in the Philippines, pilot it in the Philippines and scale it to the world?” said Earl Martin Valencia, head of strategic business development at Smart.

Valencia said the project goes beyond “angel investing” and provides incubation and acceleration. “We incubate within this entity and provide some startup funding so that they can produce prototype and accelerate it within companies in the group,” Valencia said in an interview during the Smart Wireless Engineering Education Program (Sweep) Innovation and Excellence Awards last week.

“You might have a water idea that you can scale through Maynilad, you might have a mobile idea that you can scale through Smart, you might have an electricity idea that you can scale through Meralco and touch the millions of households and consumers from each of our company,” Valencia said.

Valencia said the program, which will be launched in the next six months, will enable startups to commercialize their businesses and partner with any of the companies in the group.

Sweep will be one of the channels, he said. A key component of the Sweep program of Smart is the holding of an annual contest to build engineering projects.

“We’ve seen some good prototypes but for these to really be launched in the market, there need to be some tweaking and the doing of a business case. It has to be both to be sustainable,” Valencia said.

He said, however, that the program will be nationwide and would eventually go beyond schools.

Isberto said the move for innovation and the fostering of a culture of technopreneurship would go beyond commercial programs but would include the companies’ corporate social responsibility projects.

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