Ng: Innovation-driven economy

Wilson Ng

LAST Wednesday, I hosted a panel discussion of Department of Trade and Industry’s (DTI) “Slingshots” Conference in Marco Polo Hotel Cebu. This two-day conference attended by over 200 participants, including dozens of my friends from Manila, is a platform by DTI to spur economic growth by giving innovators, start-ups and entrepreneurs an avenue to learn and exchange ideas, as well as a discussion of recent technological changes that would affect the business environment.

This is DTI’s 2nd year of hosting this conference under the theme: “Accelerating the Innovation Economy through Digital Transformation.”

Digital transformation and innovation are buzzwords in the sense that the entire Philippines, including key cities Manila and Cebu dropped their rankings in the recent Tholons Globalization Service Index when it introduced new metrics about digital transformation and innovation.

The Philippines scored quite low, thus, sustained falls in their rankings.

The panel discussion was on the second day, and it was given the topic of “Creating the Enabling Environment for a Robust Innovation Ecosystem.” I had four speakers. One was Butch Meily, who was president of QBO Innovation Hub. This is a startup incubator done by DTI together with IdeaSpace, PLDT group of Companies and the JP Morgan Foundation. He talked about how the QBO can help innovative startups through networking and possible office hosting and funding.

Next who talk was DTI Assistant Secretary Rafaelita Aldaba who gave a good overview about Philippine’s competitiveness and position in the tech and innovations world.

Then we had a representative from the Office of Senator Bam Aquino, which is sponsoring the Innovative Startup Bill with a budget of P10 billion in order to help spur innovation. The other speaker came from the office of Senator Win Gatchalian, who is sponsoring another bill called the Philippine Innovations Act. It has a similar goal – to fund and sponsor innovative practices or innovative companies in general who will help generate employment.

It was a great discussion, and I hope it created a good impression on the audience that at least the government is putting its mouth, and also its money to become globally competitive, and to be on the pantheon of innovative nations.

Texting suicide, labor cases

Talking about mouth, it is important to note that technology has changed the definition of many laws.

A girl by the name of Michelle Carter of Massachusetts, was sentenced to two and a half year in prison for reportedly encouraging her boyfriend to kill himself through text messages. It happened three years ago, she was 17, while her boyfriend was 18.

Among dozens of text messages at that time, her boyfriend tried to commit suicide, but run out when the truck started to fill with carbon monoxide, and she encouraged him to go back and do “it.” This conviction broke legal ground because to be convicted of manslaughter charge, you have to be physically present.

Now, a virtual presence through text was enough.

On the other hand, Google just fired one of its employee who wrote that Google should respect the differences of men and women.

Many silicon valley companies are under fire, because their employees are predominantly male and white. They have been tasked to hire more minorities, like Spanish or black people, and also more women.

In the case of Google, almost 70 percent of their whole workforce are male and if you look at only the technical positions, it is almost 80 percent. It has also far fewer women in the high management ranks. The employee who was fired argued that biology prevents women from being as successful as men in the tech industry.