Philippine Startup Meetup in Berlin Turns 3, Goes Hybrid amidst COVID-19

Philippine Ambassador to Germany Ma. Theresa Dizon-De Vega (second from right) with Commercial Counselor Althea Antonio (third from right) and Dr. Rainer Seider (rightmost) from Asia Berlin Summit at the opening segment of the 3rd PH Startup Meetup in Berlin. (Berlin PE photo)

With COVID-19 accelerating the digitalization of industry and society, the 3rd Philippine Startup Meetup in Berlin was held on 24 September at the Philippine Embassy as part of the Asia Berlin Summit’s Embassy Day. Spearheaded by the Philippine Trade and Investment Center (PTIC) in Berlin headed by Commercial Counselor Althea Antonio, the meetup was organized in cooperation with Unifier Ventures, a Berlin-based company that aims to connect EU startups to Southeast Asia and vice versa through early stage funding.

The meetup was held using a hybrid format, with the opening and panel discussion livestreamed from the Embassy and the pitching session done partly online, with the startup founders connecting from Manila while the moderator and judges were onsite at the Embassy.

In her opening remarks, Philippine Ambassador to Germany Ma. Theresa Dizon-De Vega highlighted the role of Asia in the future of innovation and the importance of innovation as an area of engagement between the Philippines and Germany.

DTI Undersecretary Rafaelita Aldaba elaborated on developments in the Philippines’ startup and innovation scene, highlighting Manila’s inclusion in the top 100 startup ecosystems in the world according to the 2020 Global Startup Ecosystem Report and the Philippines’ cracking the top 50 in the Global Innovation Index for the first time this year.

Miguel Encarnacion of Unifier Ventures moderates a panel of Filipino Tech professionals in Germany. (Berlin PE photo)

Helping to power these successes are Filipino tech talent, which were the focus of the next segment, a panel discussion with Filipinos working in Berlin-based scale-ups and unicorns moderated by Unifier Ventures managing partner Mr. Miguel Encarnacion. The panel featured Ms. Liz Bautista, formerly of Zalando, an online fashion retailer; Mr. Matthew Gaw of Adjust, which provides mobile measurement and fraud prevention services to businesses; and Mr. Joefree Semilla from GetYourGuide, which allows users to browse and book travel experiences.

Mr. Joseph de Leon, Founding Member of the Manila Angel Investors Network and Director of Gravitas Prime then delivered a keynote presentation entitled “More than Fun in the Philippines: Your Gateway for Growth” where he laid out other competitive advantages offered by the Philippines for those wishing to locate startups, including its huge demographic potential.

Unifier Ventures’ Manuel Biermann and the two judges listen in to the founders’ pitches. (Berlin PE photo)

The last part of the Meetup — a pitching session featuring five ventures with Filipino founders/co-founders — offered examples of startups that have already tapped into the Philippine advantage: Aide, which allows people to book doctor visits, lab tests and other medical services to be done in the comfort of their home; One-Watt, which offers AI-enabled diagnostic services for industrial machinery maintenance; Plentina, an alternative lending system that provides online credit for consumers at partner businesses; uHoo, which provides solutions to measure indoor air quality; and Sakay, a digital app that allows passengers and providers to navigate trips using multiple modes of formal and informal transport. Two judges, Mr. Daniel Auriel from EIT Digital and Mr. David Zwilling from Techbrücke, chose Plentina as the winner of the pitching session, which was moderated by Unifier Ventures managing partner Manuel Biermann.

A recording of the 3rd Philippine Startup Meetup may be viewed on the Embassy’s and PTIC-Berlin’s (DTI-Berlin) Facebook pages (

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