Benjamin Lewis Co and Stephanie Tower on CG Backstage

Benjamin Lewis Co showcases Bataan’s efforts in molding region into investment, startup hub

The Philippine province of Bataan is shaping up to become a key investment hub in the country, partnering with public and private institutions to achieve the goal. Local official
Benjamin Lewis Co talked to CoinGeek Backstage about the newly minted Public-Private Partnership and Investment Center (PPP) and the critical role of startups in this massive transformation.

Considered to be the first of its kind at the provincial level, the PPP serves as an institution that handles public and private partnership projects and investment initiatives for Bataan, according to Co.

Co is the division chief of the Local Economic Development and Investment Promotion Office (LEDIPO), which reports directly to Bataan Governor Joet Garcia on matters related to investments and the region’s economic growth.

One of the major programs that the PPP and Investment Center is trying to work on is an incubator program for local startups, which is being crafted in partnership with state universities and private sectors.

The accelerator program was mulled following a startup innovation event in 2021, where the province identified a need for more support from the public sector for fledgling companies.

During Block Dojo Philippines’ bootcamp in Bataan early in January, Co had the opportunity to meet the cohorts participating in the venture-building program and heard their short business pitches.

Finding them unique, Co said Bataan would be an ideal region for the cohorts to begin their operations in the province.

“We have the Freeport Area of Bataan, which has the legal framework to support and give incentives to blockchain technology, fintech, and artificial intelligence programs,” he said.

While Block Dojo Philippines’ first batch of cohorts has yet to conclude their stint, Co hopes the venture-building initiative will be part of Bataan’s regular programming to support startups and drive economic growth.

On the education side, Bataan is working with the Bataan Peninsula State University (BPSU) to support undergraduates in developing their startups under the SIKAT program.

Co said the province is looking to partner with nChain and Block Dojo Philippines in the future to develop Bataan’s homegrown incubation program.

“What we envision is actually partnering with programs like nChain and Block Dojo to help us incubate and develop the startup scene here in the province,” Co told CoinGeek.

Backing Bataan’s digital transformation

nChain, which plays a pivotal role in bringing Block Dojo to the Philippines, has doubled down on its commitment to aid Bataan in its digital transformation, with Business Development Lead Stephanie Tower saying that all support needed is being provided for the growth of the local startup community, beginning with the Dojo.

“We want to expand that relationship and truly use the promise and inspiration [that] Bataan brings to the Philippines,” said Tower.

nChain, through Block Dojo Philippines, spearheads the use of emerging technologies in the region and their integration with new and existing services.

“Part of our mandate as a company is to really empower these ideas—whether it has evolved into a product or solution—by different people,” added Tower.

Apart from monetary support, nChain and Block Dojo Philippines boast a lineup of experts in the tech space who are serving as guidance to the founders in establishing their businesses.

What makes the venture-building program more exciting is the hunger of the founders to learn more about blockchain and other emerging technologies, said Tower.

“I love the fact that they’re very enthusiastic to understand some concepts that they have not fully come across before and they are very much willing to engage and ask questions,” she quipped.

Tower hopes that Block Dojo Philippines will become a stepping stone for young Filipino entrepreneurs to come out of their shells and craft ideas that could solve real-world problems.

Watch: Block Dojo Philippines Bootcamp—Filipino entrepreneurs embrace blockchain

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