Innovative economic development plan for a digital nation

  • Date: 2016-12-20

I. Background

The digital economy has sparked cross-generational, cross-border, and interdisciplinary trends over the past few years that are blurring the divide between the physical and virtual worlds while redrawing the global industrial landscape. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and the United Kingdom define “digital economy” as all economic activity generated by digital industries, as well as innovations in non-digital industries that are driven by digital technology.

Taiwan boasts a solid industrial foundation. But to stay competitive in the digital economy and internet of things (IoT) era, future industrial development will have to emphasize the establishment of a comprehensive industrial ecosystem, accelerating industrial innovation, optimizing industrial structure, and using existing advantages to develop innovative applications integrating hardware and software factors.

Back in 2002 Taiwan began promoting an on-going series of National Information and Communications Initiative projects, and today, the digital economy has become a major force. Reflecting that trend, in advanced countries the digital economy is a major factor in national and social progress and economic transformation, and in Taiwan the government is promoting industrial innovation and its New Southbound Policy. In 2016 the Executive Yuan proposed a Digital Nation and Innovative Economic Development Plan (2017-2025) known as “DIGI+” that continues the legacy of the National Information and Communications Initiative programs.

The DIGI+ initiative, which puts equal emphasis on building up hardware and software, is creating a high-quality ecosystem by constructing an innovation-friendly digital environment, and consolidating the nation’s digital infrastructure through complementary measures. These initiatives will help expand Taiwan’s digital economy, develop a robust online society and promote a new, high-value innovative economy as the foundation of a prosperous digital nation.


II. Construct a basic environment to facilitate digital innovation, the foundation of an innovative ecosystem for a digital nation

To realize President Tsai Ing-wen’s proposed “digital nation, intelligent island” vision, the Executive Yuan in November 2016 launched the DIGI+ plan to overcome existing bottlenecks in industrial development. DIGI+ emphasizes digital infrastructure construction, developing the digital economy, fostering a robust, equal-access online society, and creating a service-oriented digital government. Through sustainable infrastructure and “smart” applications in both urban and rural areas, DIGI+ also aims to improve quality of life so that citizens can enjoy prosperity and health.


DIGI+ program highlights:

A. Enhance “soft” factors to create an infrastructure conducive to digital innovation

1. Construct an innovation-friendly legal framework:

Adapt laws and regulations regarding digital convergence, information security, digital talent, intellectual property protection, digital human rights, privacy, company set-up and operations, industrial innovation and other relevant issues. The competent authorities must fast-track a bill on digital communications as well as draft amendments to the Telecommunications Act.

2. Cultivate interdisciplinary digital talent:

Expand information education in elementary and secondary schools, attract international digital talent, make digital skills universal, foster professional digital talent and expand interdisciplinary talent to improve digital literacy; ensure ample supply of digital professionals required for industrial and social development, and create an internationalized ecosystem for digital innovation.

3. Research and develop advanced digital technologies:

Strengthen academia-industry-research connectivity; adopt open, innovative research and development models for high-tech digital technologies including fifth-generation broadband, information and communications security, innovative content, smart applications, the IoT, and unmanned transport devices. These measures will help meet Taiwan’s long-term needs in industrial and smart city development, and enhance global competitiveness.

B. Promote development of the digital economy

1. Develop innovative applications

(1) Incentivize applications of digital innovation: Stimulate big data transaction markets and develop value-added services for the information economy; utilize cultural creativity and IoT technologies to develop new applications that integrate the virtual and real environments, and accelerate content innovation and the development of the digital creative industries.

(2) Spur cross-industry digital innovation: Utilize a digital innovation ecosystem featuring integrated hardware and software capabilities to increase cross-industry cooperation, help industries develop innovative applications of digital technology, and enhance enterprise digital operations to accelerate the transformation and upgrading of domestic industries, thereby expanding the developmental reach of the digital economy.

(3) Accelerate procurement for government innovation: Focus on introducing open standards and formats in innovation-related procurement cases.

(4) Create an environment that facilitates the commercial development of innovative digital applications: Lower the cost of broadband internet usage and web hosting, and offer effective incentive and guidance mechanisms.

2. Expand digital commerce

(1) Strengthen international business expansion mechanisms for digital commerce industries: Integrate Taiwanese industry chains to develop an international business expansion team; link digital innovation ecosystems in the U.S. Silicon Valley, Taiwan and Asia-Pacific to develop global strategic partnerships; and promote digital commerce with countries targeted by the New Southbound Policy.

(2) Optimize the developmental environment for digital commerce industries: Facilitate cross-industry cooperation to optimize the innovation ecosystem for digital commerce industries; inject sufficient funding to enhance cross-border enterprise operations capabilities and cultivate international flagship corporations.

(3) Promote electronic and mobile payment methods for personal consumption.

3. Support industrial innovation

Establish a new type of research center that links industry and academia to integrate information and communications technology advantages and resources; link domestic innovation resources; strengthen post-incubation guidance and flexible certification mechanisms; provide funding assistance and team up with international sources of innovation.

C. Create a service-oriented digital government, promote open governance

Develop an open application programming interface (Open API) for government data, and establish demand-oriented, one-stop smart government cloud services.

1. Implement data management at all levels of government and make government databases widely accessible to the public; establish a cooperation mechanism uniting the government and private sectors to develop value-added data applications.

2. Strengthen digital governance mechanisms and capabilities at ministries, government agencies and local governments; optimize laws and regulations concerning information and communications security management and digital governance.

D. Develop a vibrant online society with equality of access

1. Ensure broadband internet access for the disadvantaged: Implement complementary measures to ensure that the disadvantaged have access to broadband internet.

2. Implement participatory democracy: Utilize civic technology to enhance multilateral public policy communication, the integration of offline and online environments, and public collaboration mechanisms.

3. Diversify international cooperation: Combine resources from government, industry and civic groups to expand diverse international collaboration in digital technology, governance and economics.

4. Promote digital infrastructure in remote regions and outlying islands: Promote digital application development in remote regions, outlying islands, small and medium-sized enterprises and microbusinesses; ensure equal digital development opportunities across urban and rural regions and different social levels.

5. Build a comprehensive legal foundation for digital human rights, and provide citizens with equal opportunities for digital development.

E. Build sustainable, smart urban and rural areas

1. Use smart network technology to build a quality living environment.

2. Promote joint governance and construction in smart urban and rural areas.

3. Utilize local ecosystems for technical innovation encompassing industry, academia and research to help local governments plan and promote the construction of smart urban and rural areas.


III. Expected benefits

By 2025, the DIGI+ plan will:

A. Expand Taiwan’s digital economy to NT$6.5 trillion (US$204.66 billion).

B. Increase the digital lifestyle services penetration rate to 80 percent, speed up broadband internet connections to 2 Gbps (with 90 percent coverage), and ensure citizens’ basic rights to have access to 25 Mbps broadband service.

C. Put Taiwan among the top 10 in the world for networked readiness.


IV. Conclusion

The DIGI+ plan will make digital technology the foundation of national development, build a smart, broadband internet island, fortify digital governance, develop a robust online society, promote an innovative digital economy, expand digital territory, and drive industrial upgrades. Cooperation across ministries and agencies, as well as between central and local governments, will be enhanced to integrate resources; combine private-sector and industrial efforts to accelerate the creation of an ecosystem for a digital nation and its innovative economy; gather momentum for sustainable development, and make Taiwan a digital nation and “smart” island.