In 2017, the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) through the Philippine Council for Industry, Energy and Emerging Technology Research and Development (PCIEERD) launched a funding opportunity for startups to translate their early stage technologies into market ready products through research and development (R&D) activities.
The Startup Research Grant Program was established to help startups overcome R&D roadblocks, strengthen intellectual property, establish initial market traction and refine their business model.
Among the different government agencies that provide research and development grants to academic and R&D institutions, the DOST is first to open its doors to startups. The fund covers prototype improvement, field and validation tests, product market fit studies, certification procedures, provision of experts beyond the startup team and acquiring new customers.
During its first call for applications, the PCIEERD received a total of 65 startup applicants from various disciplines/sectors but 15 out of the 65 applicants qualified and received the funding after a series of evaluation and assessment.
The first batch of DOST Startup grantees are:
- MachiBox: Developed an easy-build, easy-to-program and cost effective robotics kits called MachiBot which aims to increase interest in programming and robotics among students/beginners
- Rurok Industries: A team of diverse individuals united by a common passion of riding bikes and the dream to do it by themselves. The team developed a performance bikes suspension technology that has the features of “antisquat” and “antirise”.
- Easybus PH: A startup company that provides a total digital booking platform (single, centralized and synchronized system application) adaptable for all types of buses to address the inefficiencies brought about by the manual system of booking.
- Retailgate: An AI Technology-based Retail Analytics and Market Research firm that provides tech-based consumer behavior tracking services.
- Grayscale: Developed the Smart VISION system which is an artificial intelligence-guided system for the blind that provides information on physical objects around at any distance, allowing the user to perform things that most people do (texting, email, etc.).
- Tactiles: A team of Filipino engineers and designers who developed the IQUBE, an app-powered educational toy that teaches kids about electricity. The IQUBE has been sold to thirty (30) different countries around the world.
- EduSuite: Created a next generation campus management system that saves time and prevents costly mistakes by using Artificial Intelligence to co manage the campus.
- Futuristic Aviation and Maritime Enterprise (FAME): Has developed small-scale vessel trackers and monitors that also serve as communication devices, enabling small-scale fishers to participate in electronic Catch Documentation Traceability (eCDT) and establishing increased communication and safety at-sea.
- Wela School Systems: Provides a cloud based grading platform for students, which includes a mobile application for parents and can also inform parents of the student’s attendance and other school updates.
- Kinovett Scientific Solutions: Developed biotechnology kits that teaches students basic scientific principles and at the same time provides the students the opportunity to learn through hands on activities. It also aims to build the capacity of STEM educators in the country and enhance scientific literacy of students in biotechnology through inquiry-based STEM kits.
- Senti Techlabs: Provide social media monitoring services that is focused on understanding Filipino. To process social media posts better, they have developed a machine learning -based language classifier that automatically detect the language of any document. The product will allow the clients to view the market behavior on social media as well as the real time conversations about their brands.
- Farmwatch Solutions: Offers a suite of remote monitoring system that connects farms to farmers and help them by providing information necessary to make informed decisions. Their goal is to uplift the level of agriculture technology by developing products that assists farmers by making farm work and management lighter.
- Nanotronics: Pioneered the production of cellulose nanocrystal (CNC) derived from indigenous crop for use in different industries in the Philippines. Their main product is Emtex and Emtex TP which are bio-based nanotechnology polymers that enhance the material properties of polymer matrices to which they are blended into.
- Restograph: Developed a restaurant management software that connects directly with POS systems to provide real time sales analytics and granular views of daily operations, with elements descriptive, predictive, and prescriptive data analytics.
- Smartfox Data Solutions: A silicon IP and design services provider founded by experienced IC and embedded systems design engineers. They offer digital IC design services from RTL design and logic synthesis to physical implementation and specializes in hardware design.
Aside from the research grant, the startups also received support and assistance from the DOST-funded Technology Business Incubators (TBIs) through their services and programs.
“We are happy with the milestones of the first batch of startup grantees and with the passing of the Innovative Startup Act, we see more Filipino startups getting government support,” said Russell Pili, chief of the Technology Transfer Division of PCIEERD.