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In developing local startup ecosystem, Taiwan seeks global incubator status

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Following a briefing by the Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST) on Taiwan's tech startups in the era of digital transformation, Premier Su Tseng-chang said at Thursday's weekly Cabinet meeting that the future of industry would center around the creative economy. To encourage businesses to invest in forward-looking research and development, the government will provide additional support at every step of the way. Efforts will also be made to foster the growth of Taiwan's newest tech enterprises into globally recognized brands, turning the island into a major international base for startup incubators.

In recent years the government has moved purposefully to build up a complete ecosystem for the startup industry, taking action on all fronts, from the budgeting process to fostering a supportive environment to talent development, said the premier. From 2016 to 2020 MOST has successfully backed over 400 new startups, a two-and-a-half-fold increase from the preceding five-year period. These firms have shown great achievement in such areas as attracting foreign and domestic capital, capturing business and driving employment.

In terms of the budget process, the government has provided NT$10 billion (US$351.2 million) in business angel funds and NT$60 billion (US$2.1 billion) in young entrepreneur loans to encourage innovative and high-potential startups to list in Taiwan.

As for fostering a supportive environment, a number of innovation parks have been or are being established to provide young people with the tools and surroundings they need to tap their full creative potential. These include MOST's Taiwan Tech Arena, the Financial Supervisory Commission's FinTechSpace, the Ministry of Economic Affairs' Linkou Startup Terrace in New Taipei, the Hutoushan Innovation Hub in Taoyuan, the Shalun Startup Terrace in Tainan, and a "5G artificial intelligence of things" innovation park to be built in Kaohsiung's Asia New Bay Area. All of these environments will also drive industries' digital transformation, attract world-class accelerators and draw foreign venture capital to Taiwan.

Regarding talent development, the government has to date issued more than 1,500 employment gold cards to foreign nationals seeking work in Taiwan. The Cabinet on November 26 also passed a draft bill that aims to promote industrial-academic cooperation in fields strategic to the nation while nurturing the kind of innovative talent required for these collaborations. If passed, this legislation would give schools greater flexibility in cultivating high-level technical specialists, the premier said.

The government is also easing regulations to allow scholars and professors to take up positions at startup companies, which in turn will encourage the commercialization of academic research and spur the growth of startups. Each of these strategies will enable Taiwan to compete more vigorously in the global arena, Premier Su said.

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