A higher aim on innovation

46th Philippine Business Conference & Expo continues conversation about innovation in business

By Adrian Paul B. Conoza, Special Features Writer

One of the points the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has further pushed is the need for businesses and organizations to innovate. While the pandemic has gravely affected several businesses, forcing some of them to close, it has also opened opportunities to digitally transform as well as to make the most out of their remaining resources.

On its 46th Philippine Business Conference & Expo (PBC&E), which will commence today, the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) will once again bring together policy makers, business and industry captains, diplomats, the academe, and micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) into an in-depth discussion of innovation and how it can shape businesses in the new normal.

The PBC&E, the biggest annual business event in the country, is a two-day summit that serves as a collaborative venue for discussing current business opportunities and issues, as well as forming policy recommendations that would help create a resilient and sustainable business environment.

With the theme “innovation@ph,” this year’s PBC&E aims to provide businesses with a digital road map to effectively navigate and chart a more sustainable and secure future.


PCCI President Amb. Benedicto V. Yujuico

“The topic has become even more relevant now, with the COVID-19 making innovation and transformation to digital processes an urgent and necessary component of governance and business strategies,” Amb. Benedicto V. Yujuico, president of PCCI, said.

The theme reflects the cause that Mr. Yujuico champions as the president of PCCI, having observed how developed and industrialized countries like China have succeeded in embracing innovation as their core strategy.

“With the pandemic disrupting normal business operations, enterprises, particularly MSMEs and even the informal sector, are now adopting new business models to survive the lockdowns on economic and social activities,” Mr. Yujuico continued.

This year’s PBC&E will have important figures from both government and private sectors.

The summit will have Vice-President Maria Leonor G. Robredo as the opening keynote speaker, while President Rodrigo R. Duterte will give his message for the concluding ceremonies.

Moreover, Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III, Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon M. Lopez, Science and Technology Secretary Fortunato T. Dela Peña, and Labor and Employment Secretary Silvestre H. Bello III will share their insights and discuss government policy interventions and strategies for economic recovery and sustainability through innovative practices.

Particularly, Mr. Dominguez will join the discussion on boldness and innovation in financial management, sharing innovative measures the Finance department will introduce to help the country’s economy emerge stronger post-pandemic.

Messrs. Dela Peña and Bello, meanwhile, will join the plenary on the Fourth Industrial Revolution, also known as the Industry 4.0. They will discuss how the government is creating an ecosystem that strengthens business, technology, and innovation, and support the shift to Industry 4.0.

Former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo will also join the summit as she will share innovative practices and structural reforms that were put in place during her term in response to the grave threat of the global financial crisis in 2008.

From the private sector, on the other hand, Xavier Marzan, managing director of Filinvest Development Corp.; Minette Navarrete, president of Kickstart Ventures; and Jojo Malolos, chief executive officer of JG Digital Equity, will share in another plenary their stories on how large companies embrace innovation.
Other plenaries in PBC&E will see experts and thought leaders from both government and private sectors.

Director Ellen Joyce L. Suficiencia of the Center for Learning and Inclusion Advocacy and of the Financial Inclusion Group of Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas; Lito Villanueva, chairman of FinTech Alliance of the Philippines; and Bobby Castro, president and CEO of Palawan Express, will share some of the innovative financing solutions that institutions or companies have been mobilizing to help small enterprises recover.

In another plenary, Undersecretary Rowena Cristina L. Guevara of the Department of Science and Technology; Rachael A. Jarosh, president and CEO of Enactus; and Joey Gurango, business technology coach at Servio Small Business, will present various innovative approaches that companies can adopt to effectively pivot into the new normal.


PCCI BOARD OF DIRECTORS: (Seated from left) Delia B. Jimenez, area vice-president and director, National Capital Region; Clarine P. Tobias, area vice-president and director, South Luzon; Dr. Francis Chua, chairman emeritus and director, International Trade Affairs; Dr. Sergio R. Ortiz-Luis, Jr., honorary chairman and treasurer and director, Corporate Social Responsibility; Amb. Benedicto V. Yujuico, president; Ma. Alegria S. Limjoco, chairman and director, Membership; George T. Barcelon, president emeritus and chairman, Utilities and Legislative; Maria Teresa R. Alegrio, area vice-president and director, Mindanao; and Gregoria G. Simbulan, area vice-president, North Luzon.
Standing from left: Alfredo M. Yao, honorary chairman/ director, Trade and Industry; Michael Chen, director, Mineral Resources Development; Samuel L. Chioson, area vice-president/director, Visayas; Jeffrey T. Ng, director, Smart Cities; Dr. Alberto P. Fenix, Jr., honorary president/chairman-Human Resource Development; Edgardo G. Lacson, honorary chairman & internal auditor/director, Capital Market, and Corporate Governance; Apolinar E. Aure, director, SME; Roberto C. Amores, director, Agriculture and Fishery; Jose P. Leviste, Jr., director, Environment and Climate Change; Menardo R. Jimenez, director, Banking and Taxation; Edgar J. Sia II, director, Innovation.

“We hope that our delegates would learn from our distinguished speakers some innovative and practical solutions on how to steer their businesses during and beyond the pandemic,” Engr. Enunina Mangio, 46th PBC&E chair, said.

The chamber also hopes that the PBC&E will drive policy makers to further support more innovation-oriented regulation and supportive policies such as the creation and preservation of incentive systems and sustainability of finance.

It is also hoped that issues such as education that is not conducive to creative thinking, training not aligned with market needs and state of technologies, and further improvement in internet connectivity will be addressed through the summit.

Aside from the plenary sessions, the PBC&E will also be conferring awards and recognition for the following: Most Business-Friendly LGU; Best Business Development Idea (BIDA) for students; B.V.Y. Environment, Ecology and Economy Award for corporate environmental programs; A.M.Y. Intellectual Property Award; E.I.S. Young Entrepreneur Award; Most Outstanding Chamber Award; and PCCI President’s Award.

In addition, as an indication of the chamber’s full support to the fight against the pandemic, posthumous recognition will also be given to departed frontliners.

Another highlight of the summit will be the launching of PCCI’s e-market portal, ShopAll, which provides the chamber’s members an avenue to market their products nationwide.

Further push to innovation
Aside from this year’s PBC&E, PCCI has also been working on several initiatives in enabling entrepreneurs and firms to be the dominant force in innovation. One of these is the PCCI Innovation Center, a proposed service platform that will house IEC materials, lectures and workshops, to name a few, for developing innovation and entrepreneurship.

“This innovation center will provide the ecosystem and support for viable innovative business ideas of the young and talented engineers and entrepreneurs of our country,” Mr. Yujuico explained.

The Innovation Center will be inaugurated by the end of October.
The chamber has also been pushing for enabling policies that address the limitations in internet connection, given the transition to online platforms among businesses. One of these apparent limitations comes from the restrictions in the use of satellites for internet connection.

“PCCI is now addressing this limitation by urging the signing of a new Executive Order on satellite access liberalization to effect an immediate expanded internet coverage and to improve connectivity; and the enactment of the Open Access in Data Technology Act or the Better Internet Act to enforce a simple expeditious administrative process for new market entrants, as well as fast-track and lower the cost of broadband network rollout,” Mr. Yujuico recalled.