5 Startup Accelerators and Incubators in the Philippines to Knowby Fintech News Philippines August 28, 2023
The fintech industry in the Philippines has witnessed significant growth and development in recent years, driven by a combination of factors including increasing smartphone penetration, a young and digitally-savvy population as well as supportive regulatory changes designed to promote digital payments and improve financial inclusion.
The Filipino fintech ecosystem grew by nearly 40% between 2018 and 2022, rising from just 208 companies to 289, according to a 2022 report by UOB, PwC Singapore and the Singapore Fintech Association.
As of late-2022, 91% of the consumers polled in the country were aware of embedded finance – the highest rate among Southeast Asia’s top six economies. 70% of Filipino respondents said they had used apps with built-in financial services, ahead of Singapore (55%) and Indonesia (61%).
To help young entrepreneurs and local startups tap into the fintech opportunity, a lot of accelerators and incubators have been launched over the past couple of years to provide a structured and supportive environment that helps them refine their business models, overcome challenges and accelerate their growth.
In the Philippines, several programs are contributing to the growth and development of the ecosystem by offering select startups the resources, mentorship and connections they need to thrive in the rapidly evolving technology landscape.
The following are five of the country’s biggest and most active incubation and acceleration programs targeting not only fintech companies but the broader Filipino tech startup ecosystem as well.
QBO Innovation Hub
The QBO Innovation Hub is a public-private partnership platform focusing on nurturing startups across diverse sectors, including fintech, within the Philippines.
Formed in 2016 through the collaboration of IdeaSpace, JP Morgan, the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), The hub serves as a dynamic catalyst for startups’ growth by providing critical resources, mentorship, and an extensive network to support their journey from conception to expansion.
The QBO Innovation Hub offers support to startups regardless of their size, industry, or development stage. Its array of programs and services include access to an extensive local and international network of fellow entrepreneurs, mentors, investors and potential partners, growth opportunities, mentorship, networking events, as well as an incubation program featuring customized support and guidance to accelerate the growth of startups with high potential.
AIM-Dado Banatao Incubator
The AIM-Dado Banatao Incubator, a partnership between the Asian Institute of Management (AIM) and Filipino entrepreneur Dado Banatao, is a business incubator and accelerator for innovation-driven startups located at the AIM Conference Center Manila in Makati City.
Launched in 2016, the award-winning program targets entrepreneurs whose businesses have the potential to impact all sectors of society in Asia by providing solutions to current and emerging world problems, create jobs, and distribute created wealth in a more equitable manner.
It helps select startups scale into full-fledged enterprises, providing them with mentorship from both AIM and non-AIM community-members, hands-on and customized management and training, office spaces, and more.
The AIM-Dado Banatao Incubator claims it has backed 56 startups so far, including Payruler, a comprehensive human resources (HR) management and payroll system, and InvestEd, a lending platform for student loans.
The IdeaSpace Foundation is a non-profit organization that aims to uplift the early-stage science and technology startup ecosystem, focusing on addressing emerging market challenges in the Philippines and Southeast Asia.
Founded in 2012 and based in Makati, Manila, the IdeaSpace Foundation offers a suite of founder-centric programs and initiatives designed to propel startups on a trajectory toward stable, scalable, and sustainable growth and long-term success.
The organization’s key programs include its flagship four-month acceleration program, which provides early-stage startup founders with coaching, founder and team member training and workshops to help them develop their team, scale their business, and achieve key milestones; an alumni program; the Opportunity Fund; and an external relations program, which focuses on helping startups establish impactful partnerships with government bodies, private sector entities and academic institutions.
The IdeaSpace Foundation claims that since its inception, the organization has supported over 100 startups, mentored more 300 entrepreneurs and deployed PHP 180 million (US$3.2 million) in funding for startups and ecosystem support activities in the Philippines.
Upscale Innovation Hub
Founded in 2018, Upscale Innovation Hub is a thriving hub within the University of the Philippines Diliman located in Quezon City. The hub aims to accelerate the launch of cutting-edge technologies by fostering collaboration between local and international innovation communities.
Backed by the University of the Philippines and the DOST’s Philippine Council for Industry, Energy and Emerging Technology Research and Development (DOST-PCIEERD), Upscale Innovation Hub offers three core programs:
- Ignite, a program facilitated through collaborations between academia and industries revolving around market-driven product development;
- Up Enterprise, an acceleration and incubation program nurturing pre-revenue technology startups by guiding them through stages of growth, development, and disruption within the competitive tech landscape; and
- EntreLead, a scaling up program for technology startups with initial investment and traction.
The TOMASInno Center (TIC) is the technology business incubator of the University of Santo Tomas in Manila. Established in August 2019 with the support of a grant from the DOST-PCIEERD, the TIC serves as a hub for innovation and technopreneurship within and beyond the university ecosystem.
The center offers a wide range of services to support Thomasians and non-Thomasian students, researchers, and alumni in various areas. These services encompass critical areas such as marketing, prototyping, intellectual property filing and commercialization, and are aimed at empowering individuals and teams to effectively navigate the entrepreneurial journey and transform their ideas into successful ventures.
In addition to an incubation program dedicated to nurturing startups, the TIC also takes an active role in monitoring and implementing programs related to technopreneurship at UST.
Since its establishment, the TIC says it has conducted two batches of its incubation program with the guidance of the TIC mentors from the Academe and Thomasian alumni. It claims it has supported 23 startups and incubatees.
Featured image credit: edited from Unsplash