1. A very good afternoon to Undersecretary Rafaelita Aldaba of the Department of Trade and Industry of the Philippines; Plug & Play Co-Founder Mr Jojo Flores; participants, and distinguished guests. It is my pleasure to join you this afternoon at the Global Innovation Alliance Manila Tech Showcase event.
2. It is great to see so many of you here today, and I hope that the Tech Showcase will offer new avenues for startups, investors and corporates from both sides to collaborate further.
3. Singapore and the Philippines are friends. We share longstanding and close ties, and a robust bilateral economic partnership. Our business communities also work actively with one another, and we are active investors in the Philippines. In 2019, Singapore was the top international investor in the Philippines, with over US$5 billion in stock investments. In recent years, our companies’ have also expanded their interest in the Philippines beyond the traditional sectors of consumer and infrastructure, to the fast-growing tech and innovation sectors.
4. COVID-19 has brought significant disruptions to our lives and unprecedented challenges in the last year. We fought to contain the spread of the virus while helping our businesses and people navigate the changes to the global and domestic economies. We were forced to rethink the status quo, so that we could adapt and thrive in the new normal. We have had to quickly adapt online and on to digital platforms, which has led to an exponential growth of the digital economy. And this has created new and exciting opportunities.
5. As fast-emerging startup and innovation hubs, both Singapore and the Philippines are well-poised to benefit from these opportunities. From 2018 to 2019, there was a sharp 22% growth in the value of the Philippines’ startup ecosystem. Today, the Philippines has an estimated 400 to 600 startups, and around US$378 million in funding and exit values.
6. Similarly, Singapore is home to more than 100 incubators and 1,000 fintech companies, with total startup funding reaching approximately US$5.2 billion in the first half of 2020. This rapid growth opens new opportunities for us to work even more closely together, and leverage each other’s strengths in the startup and innovation space.
7. The launch of the Global Innovation Alliance Manila, or GIA Manila, therefore comes at an exciting time. GIA Manila will facilitate partnerships between our companies, provide them with access to resources and networks within each of our innovation ecosystems, and plug our companies into our extensive GIA network that spans across 15 cities around the world. It will also offer various training and business-matching programmes, organised by Plug & Play and Launch Garage, to help Singapore and Philippine companies find their footing and grow quickly in each other’s markets.
8. Today’s Tech Showcase is the first of such programmes. We will be watching 11 Singapore startups pitch their ideas to Philippine enterprises, and explore solutions in areas of consumer finance, enterprise fintech, insurtech and digital banking. This cross-pollination of ideas does not stop here. After today, startups and corporates can continue leveraging the GIA network to work together and further develop their solutions. We also welcome you to use Singapore as a launchpad to the region – events such as the annual Singapore Fintech Festival and the Singapore Week of Innovation and Technology, also known as SWITCH, gathers participants from 160 countries, and serves as a platform for the global startup and innovation community to explore opportunities & frontiers together.
9. GIA Manila reflects our readiness to explore this new frontier together, and advance the economic partnership between Singapore and the Philippines. I look forward to continue working closely with our counterparts and industry partners in the Philippines to create new avenues for collaboration. We can build a stronger regional innovation network together, so our startups can jointly benefit from the growing opportunities in Southeast Asia and beyond.
10. Finally, congratulations to Plug & Play and Enterprise Singapore for organising this webinar, and a big thank you to our industry partners in both Singapore and the Philippines for your continuous support.
11. I wish you all a fruitful session. Thank you.