Last March 26 to 28, I attended the MIT Global Startup Workshop held at Bangkok, Thailand together with my startup, Lungtian Solutions. The event hosted several workshops focusing on technology, particularly in the realms of fintech, agritech, edutech, artificial intelligence, prototyping, and entrepreneurial strategies, among others. Three competitions were also held, which include the startup showcase, elevator pitch, and business plan competition.
Where do I even begin to describe the significance of this event? One word: tech. With the event’s theme, “Dream big. Dream tech,” it serves as a motivation for the attendees to maximize technology and use it as leverage to help solve the common good’s problems.
We see the emergence of tech such as the following:
- Machine learning
- Artificial intelligence
- Internet of things
- Virtual reality
- Augmented reality
- …and many others
These technologies have so many applications in several aspects of our lives that they have become the center of advancement in today’s time. Blockchain, for instance, allows us to make use of a decentralized, distributed ledger that essentially ensures the anonymity of any form of transaction online. Unlike banks which serve as middlemen in many transactions, blockchain eliminates the middlemen and enables direct peer-to-peer transactions. Many developments are undergoing under blockchain, one of which is cryptocurrency and how several digital currencies are being deployed into a blockchain network.
Another application of blockchain that can prove to be helpful for Filipinos is blockchain-based remittances. Unlike the traditional sending of remittance, one that is based in the blockchain eliminates the need for middlemen such as banks and other financial services and, therefore, reduces the total time spent for remittances to be transferred to the Philippines. With the blockchain network, this also ensures the anonymity and security of transactions through encryption. One such startup doing this is Bloom.
Another emerging field, agritech and precision agriculture, enables the use of Internet of Things applications, for instance, to use sensors for monitoring humidity, temperature, light intensity, nitrogen, and pH levels of plants, among others. The data gathered from these will enable us to optimize further the growth of crops and, therefore, increase overall food production. When it comes to the Philippines, however, we are still quite far from developing such technologies in large and commercial scale due to the lack of resources, research, development, and the existing technologies we have in agriculture (i.e. in fact, we are still using carabaos, and many farms don’t have a tractor yet to help them with farming tasks). To address this, there are a few incubation programs such as the IoT Hackathon organized by MakeSense and Gawad Kalinga Enchanted Farm that aims to integrate IoT applications in agriculture. To upscale these efforts, joint and synergistic efforts must be undertaken by both the public and private sectors.
These technologies may seem an expensive and intimidating investment for developing countries such as the Philippines, but they can be done. If startups like Bloom and coins.ph were able to do it, this is all the more reason for us to invest in such technologies.