The bicameral conference committees of the Senate and House of Representatives have reconciled the versions of the proposed landmark Philippine Innovation Act and Innovative Startup Act.
Once ratified by both Houses, the twin bills will be sent to Malacanang for President Duterte's signature.
"These bills do not only intend to promote a culture of innovation in the Philippines, they aim to improve ease of doing business and to provide MSMEs and startups with a platform to flourish and create more jobs. Innovation is key to sustainable and inclusive growth in the country," said Rep. Victor A. Yap (2nd Distric, Tarlac), author of both bills.
The Philippine Innovation Act seeks to provide MSMEs greater access to finance, market and technology.
Under the bill, a National Innovation Council, to be chaired by the President, will be created to develop the country's innovation goals, priorities, and long-term national strategy.
Moreover, the proposed measure provides for a comprehensive support program, from incorporation to internationalization, for MSMEs. The program shall include coaching and mentoring in the areas of design; technology extension services; standard business practices in contracting, accounting and project management; quality control; standard-setting; business services such as commercialization and management; patents; among others.
Through a startup MSME innovation development program, the government shall mobilize its various agencies to work hand in hand with private organizations to provide technical and financial support for the development training of entrepreneurs.
"Regional innovation that will harness the competitive advantages, as well as existing and potentials strengths of regions and provinces shall also be promoted," Yap said.
A P1-billion Innovation Fund will be established to strengthen entrepreneurship and enterprises engaged in developing innovative solutions benefitting the poorest of the poor.
An Innovation Development Credit and Financing Program shall be developed for MSMEs to avail of loans and other financing activities. All banking institutions shall set aside at least four percent of their total liable funds for innovation development credit.
Meanwhile, the Innovative Startup Act aims to provide startups with benefits and incentives which include: 1) subsidy for the application and processing of permits and certificates required for business registration; 2) expedited or prioritized processing of applications; 3) subsidy for the use of facilities, office space, equipment, and services provided by government or private institutions; and, 4) grants-in-aid for research, development, training and expansion projects.
A Startup Grant Fund and Startup Venture Fund shall be created to provide grants-in aid and to match investments be selected investors in startups based in the country.
Under the bill, the Department of Education, the Commission on Higher Education, and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority are directed to develop and integrate in their respective curricula entrepreneurial program that shall foster an environment conducive to innovation.