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.