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Taiwan Government, U.S. NGO Co-Sponsor Contest for Asian Startups

Taiwan’s Ministry of Science and Technology will join U.S.-based Singularity University this year to hold an international competition for startups in Asia Pacific countries.

Taiwan will host the SingularityU APAC Global Impact Challenge for the first time, as part of an annual rotation around Asia, deputy minister Hsu Yu-chin told a news conference May 14.

The Challenge gives startups a chance to join the decade-old Silicon Valley-based nonprofit’s incubator program at NASA Research Park in California. Program leaders hope to foster startups that can help people in 13 Asian countries.

The 13 countries are Australia, Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, New Zealand, the Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam. The first Global Impact Challenge took place two years ago.

Artificial intelligence (AI) will be a focus this year of the 2018 contest, namely uses of AI to solve critical issues in energy, the environment, food and water. Contest entrants may also consider uses of AI to help disaster resilience, health, and education.

Applications to join the event will remain open through July 9. Judges will first review all applications to determine finalists and at a pitch event August 10 they will pick a winner.

Contest entrants will get exposure to mentors, leaders and resources through workshops and other programs associated with the competition, Hsu said.

“The APAC Global Impact Challenge is not just about selecting the winning team, but also about gaining insights from mentors and industry leaders from different countries,” Hsu said.

“It’s a great opportunity for Taiwanese startups to leverage global resources, also for international startups to connect with Taiwanese startup founders and corporate business partners.”

The SU Venture Incubator Program runs for 10 weeks to help startups develop. Singularity University is not a degree-issuing university but a non-profit organization with an educational aim.

Head start for Taiwan founders

In a boost for local startups, the ministry will establish its own tech incubator, called Taiwan Tech Arena. The arena due to open in Taipei June 5 will help the growth of high-tech companies and link them to markets overseas, according to this press release.

Taiwan Tech Arena will provide guidance to help over 100 startups consolidate their ideas and push them overseas, Hsu said. He said half would be Taiwanese companies and the rest come from overseas.

Taiwan Tech Arena will consult with international incubators and accelerators to assist the 100-plus startups, Hsu added. Those connections would help promote startups internationally. One such partner is French Tech Taiwan, a tech startup accelerator accredited by the French government.