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Mar 29, 2012
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Not a lot of people know who Edward Caro is, we don't even know if he's still living in his home province of Cavite. To the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) though, he's a multi-awarded engineer known for his work in Radar Science, specifically on NASA's Shuttle Radar Topography Mission.

There's no doubt Pinoys will find Caro's story inspiring, but there's a slim chance they'll think they can have the same future or the same opportunities as the Distinguished Service Medal awardee.

PLDT-Smart Communications Chairman Manny V. Pangilinan is on a mission to change that kind of Pinoy thinking with IdeaSpace, an incubator accelerator program that'll encourage young, innovative entrepreneurs to pursue their dreams. Under Ideaspace, qualified startups will be provided with funding, mentoring, office space, legal assistance and other support a budding business needs.

The Philippines is seen to be one of the most fast-rising economies and is predicted by HSBC to be the 16th largest economy by 2050 and if there were ever a time to have a great idea, that would be now.

"We encourage people to pursue their dreams. There's a sense of security working for a company and we want the next generation to take risks," says Martyn Cuan of Meralco. Where the old thinking was to start a business, you'd have to have capital and to have that you'd have to save up by working for a company, Ideaspace aims to make a great Pinoy idea, a world-changing one by taking care of the things that could be considered obstacles for budding entrepreneurs and having them work for their own idea, full-time.

Run by IdeaSpace Foundation, Inc., the program is also supported by companies like First Pacific, PLDT, Meralco, MPIC hospital group, SPI Global, Smart Communications, Inc, Philex Mining, TV5 and more. Interested technopreneurs can join the soon-to-be-launched national competition for the first batch of startups.

It's even backed up by MVP himself. Speaking candidly to a group of journalists that included the author at the Filipinas Heritage Library yesterday, he reiterates that they are committed to developing globally consumed, homegrown projects.

(L-R) Earl Valencia, Manny V. Pangilinan, Martyn Cuan, Mon Isberto

"We are encouraging people to think through the issues in the country and getting people involved in the process," says MVP. "We want them to generate solutions to enrich the life of the people. We want people to take risks because they're young enough to make mistakes. If you get one innovative idea out of three thousand, that doesn't mean you shouldn't try."

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Funding startups is a serious business, but MVP says that they are willing to take those risks. "We aren't closing the door on other industries like food or health. That's part of our corporate social responsibility, we want the youth to dare to innovate."

On a less serious note, we asked MVP what his favorite successful startups are, and while he mentioned Facebook and Twitter (both former startups created by twenty-somethings), he says he doesn't have an account---for fear of being flooded with tweets and messages. "I do text a lot," he admits, "but I'm not the tech guy."

He tells us that he does take risks. "Sometimes when you make a decision, you're not entirely certain if it was the right one. Only subsequent events will prove if your decision was right," he says.

As tech guys, we hope that even before 2050, some of the Ideaspace Pinoy startups will have proven that MVP's optimistic team was right and can proudly take some credit in the success of the world's future 16th largest economy. More importantly, we hope that this'll churn out some out-of-this-world-awesome ideas, so Edward Caro won't be so lonely on the list of world-changing Pinoys.

WORDS BY Neps Firmalan
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