Meet Startup @TW

Going south is key as Taiwan moves to become a global tech leader

Taiwan has been gunning for worldwide recognition as a global innovation hub. And why not? As the world’s leading supplier of computing-related hardware, Taiwan is poised to be the home of the next great innovation.

We had the chance to talk to Dr. Ming-Ji Wu, Director General of Small and Medium Enterprise Administration of the Taiwan Ministry of Economic Affairs, about the country’s strengths in technology, how the ANCHORUP Summit is planning to engage startups in the south, and why the world should have its eyes on Taiwan’s tech scene.

From idea to product, faster

Taiwan is known for its hardware and its strong original design manufacturing (ODM) industry. Wu credits this to a general user-centric mindset and strong overall design and development skills.

Take for example, electric scooter company Gogoro, who is present not only in Taiwan but globally. During the company’s early stages, they needed specialised engine parts that cannot be found anywhere. Gogoro leveraged on the strength of Taiwan’s ODM industry to design, develop, and mass produce the parts that they needed.

With the user-centric mindset of Taiwanese companies, and the fact that the country’s software talents work in hardware companies, it’s no wonder that they are able to quickly develop concepts and ideas into real products faster. “Since these software talents have the background of hardware products and markets, they’re even better at integrating the hardware and software products together,” says Wu.

This is why international companies have begun heading to Taiwan; it is not simply for parts but for the increasingly innovative technological expertise in integrating software and hardware to create new solutions.

Of course, where there are strengths, opportunities also arise. “Taiwanese ICT talents have been focussing on machine and automation for so long that we’ve little focus on human-centered technical interface. That’s why in general we’re not very good at UI,” Wu says.

This now opens the opportunity for international partners to step in and collaborate with Taiwanese startups to co-create products.

Vibrant, thriving tech community

In recent years, many of these software talents from large hardware companies have made the move to entrepreneurship, either starting companies of their own or joining startups. There is significant support from both private businesses and the government, but by and large, it has been concentrated on the northern part of the country.

This is something Wu said that programmes like ANCHORUP aims to address. “Compared to what we used to do, either go east to partner with America or go west to team up with China for market strategy, nowadays, we realise that going south is the best move.”

A fitting move, as supporting startups in the south strengthen the overall startup ecosystem of the country, which in turn contribute to the development of the region’s tech industry. “Taiwan’s mature tech manufacturing industry can play a critical role in Southeast Asia’s developing tech industry, Wu says.”

The goal of ANCHORUP, a series of events organised by the Southern Taiwan University of Science and Technology, is to collaborate with regional businesses and co-create ecosystem synergies. “Previously, the university-based incubators are more localized.

However, now we need to speed up to go south and we need to use a more macro perspective to build up a platform that can link up all the key ecosystem builders and resources within the whole startup ecosystem,“ Wu explains.

This move to bring together a fragmented tech community is one of the country’s moves to position itself as a global tech leader. Having a collaborative tech ecosystem means that information is easily shared, innovation is developed faster, and products come out better. Wu says that one of the goals is for people to think of Taiwan as a key resource provider.

“The ultimate goal will be building up a platform to recruit international startups to come on board in Taiwan, and sending out startups to international markets to grow globally.”

Disclosure: e27 is a partner of ANCHORUP

Original story is here.