Creation of Innovation Zones mulled
Ehda Dagooc (The Freeman) - April 2, 2014 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines -  The creation of “Innovation Zones” in the Philippines is being pushed to encourage local technology developers to start with their business while enjoying tax perks and other similar benefits given to companies operating in special economic zones.

Winston Damarillo, a successful venture capitalist and owner of several technology companies that are now providing technology solutions around the world, such as Morph Labs and Exist Software Labs, said that if the Philippines is able to give benefits to big companies that locate in the special economic zones, a creation of “innovation hub” would be able to provide the same advantage.

He said the Philippine Economic Zone Authority  accredited zones are only giving incentives and tax-leeway to big companies, an “innovation zone” on the other hand, will accommodate start-up technology companies, or the micro entrepreneurs.

Although this concept would require the government’s support through a creation of a law, this can be done if the government and private sector will work together and set the motion to accelerate this idea.

With the rich technology brains in the Philippines, the country or Cebu in particular is looking at emulating the footprint of the “Silicon Valley” in California, USA. Although observers have said that it is far from reality, Damarillo said the Philippines should start something by capitalizing on the rich technology innovators here.

Designed for start-ups and entrepreneurs working on high risk, high reward ventures, Innovation Zones will build on best practices and encourage innovation, said Damarillo.

The Innovation Zone he said will nurture the great ideas, novelty concept that are of good commercial value and encourage these great minds to develop more innovations in the zones, such as technology innovation in healthcare, software, energy, among others.

The private sector could start to accommodate this idea, but with the strong support and collaboration from the government.

Further discussions on this idea will be done taking into consideration the advice of experts, and looking at successful models, such as the “Silicon Valley”, among others.

In the software development for instance, Damarillo said earlier that the Philippines has to maximize its strength in this area, not just providing multinational companies with our talents, but turning the talents into entrepreneurs.

He believes that the Philippines will be able to well compete with other software development hubs in the world like India, on eCommerce applications, games, mobile applications, among others.

“We will build our own HP, Lexmark, Intel, IBM, and others,” said Damarillo adding that the Philippines’ abundant of talents could be its great advantage.

In an earlier interview he said that Filipino parents should also realize that great opportunities for engineers in the long term period, and they have to see the success of the Filipino (technology) engineers in business.

Damarillo,  a mere employee of a multinational technology company few years back, realized his potential to start his own technology “empire” starting with raising capital of US$5 million to US$15 million to start off the Morphlabs company, now the company reaps return of investments at US$100 million to US$400 million.  (FREEMAN)

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