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Thursday, November 30, 2023

Tomorrow’s tech titans to set stage at PLDT Enterprise, Smart’s 2023 Startup Innovation Challenge

As part of their commitment to drive technological innovation in the Philippines, PLDT Enterprise, the business-to-business arm of PLDT Inc. and Smart Communications, Inc. (Smart) have announced the official launch of the 2023 Start-up Innovation Challenge.   

The Startup Innovation Challenge is an open innovation program that involves “a problem-solving hackathon where startups will work on real-life challenges, redesign existing solutions, and ensure development of prototypes using identified technologies and other emerging tech.”   

Launched in 2021, the event provides tech startups guidance through co-creation, co-innovation, and collaboration with PLDT Enterprise and Smart, as well as special access to PLDT’s Innolab, a world-class facility where innovative products and business solutions are tested and developed.  

Building on the success of its inaugural virtual program, this year’s Challenge is set to be the first in-person event, marking a significant shift from its previous format.   

“Our goal has always been to accelerate the enterprise solution innovation process. Through this challenge, we offer participants the unique opportunity to validate their technology and business models with direct feedback from stakeholders and potential clients,” said Melvin Jeffrey Chan, Vice President and Head of PLDT Enterprise Innovations, Business Development, Consulting, and Presales.  

Another first, the PLDT and Smart Startup Innovation Challenge will be an integral feature of the Philippine Digital Convention 2023 (PH Digicon 2023), thus amplifying its participants’ reach and impact.  

“This year, we’re taking things up a notch by integrating the challenge with PH Digicon 2023, offering startups an even grander stage to showcase their innovations. The enthusiasm we’ve seen from startups across the country is truly inspiring,” said Mitch Locsin, First Vice President and Head of Enterprise and International Business Groups at PLDT and Smart. 

Startups with a proprietary solution, legally registered in the Philippines, operating for over a year, and with at least one paid client are encouraged to participate.  

The focus areas for this year’s challenge include innovations on ESG (environmental, social, and governance), Smart City, AI (artificial intelligence), AR (augmented reality), MR (mixed reality), XR (extended reality), Metaverse, 5G, and the Internet of Things (IoT).  

“Our partnership with PLDT and Smart has always been about pushing boundaries. This challenge is a testament to our shared vision of fostering a vibrant tech ecosystem in the Philippines,” said Butch Meily, President of IdeaSpace and QBO, in sharing his excitement about the collaboration.  

Call for entries for the challenge is open from August 24th until September 22nd. The top 10 start-ups will be announced on September 27th, followed by a period of mentorship and prototyping from October 2nd to 11th. The culmination will be the Pitching Competition and Demo Day on October 13th at the Philippine Digital Convention 2023 to be held in Marriot Grand Ballroom.    

Winners will benefit not only from cash prizes but also significant exposure, as they will be given a showcase area at Innolab for a year and will have the opportunity to present and exhibit their innovations to C-levels, business leaders, and tech innovators and partners. 

In the spirit of collaboration and innovation, PLDT Enterprise invites all eligible startups to join them in their quest for emerging technologies.   

“Let’s co-create, co-innovate, and collaborate. Together, we can drive technology and innovation forward in the Philippines,” concluded Chan.  

PLDT and Smart’s push to provide communication and connectivity for all to benefit startups and local businesses, underscores the Group’s commitment to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UNSDG), particularly UNSDG #8: Decent Work and Economic Growth and contributes to the Group’s endeavors to provide connectivity to all, and to anchor initiatives on the UNSDG #9: Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure. 

PLDT, through its business arm, PLDT Enterprise and ICT subsidiary, ePLDT, is blazing the trail for innovative Multi-Cloud and Data Center solutions for enterprises, enabling the development of digital services in the country. ePLDT maintains ten VITRO Data Centers across the country, with an 11th underway and more in the pipeline, to fill the IT outsourcing demands of businesses. Once completed, VITRO Sta. Rosa in Laguna will be the country’s largest, most advanced, and first true hyperscale-ready data center with a total power capacity of 50MW.  

This also highlights the PLDT Group’s support for the government’s Go Digital Pilipinas Movement as a founding member of the Digital Infrastructure pillar of the Private Sector Advisory Council (PSAC), which aims to uplift the lives of Filipinos through adoption of digital services.

For more information and updates, please follow the PLDT Enterprise official Facebook page, or visit Start-up Innovation Challenge 2023 (

If your startup meets the criteria and is ready to take on this challenge, please submit your application at Start-up Innovation Challenge 2023 – Application form (

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