Taiwan has been gunning for worldwide recognition as a global innovation hub, with the government taking an active role in not only supporting homegrown startups, but also encouraging international businesses to look into the country as a source of talent and resources.
Being the world’s leading supplier of computing-related hardware with a strong original design manufacturing (ODM) industry and original equipment manufacturers (OEM) should count for something, right?
However, while the country’s strength has been in its hardware and ODM industries, it has failed to keep up with the internet and software revolution. Large Taiwanese tech companies are still heavily reliant on ODM and OEM contracts, making it harder for them to maintain the lead in innovation that they gained in the rise of Taiwanese tech enterprises a couple of decades back.
Which is why in recent years, the Taiwanese government has addressed these challenges by embracing and supporting IoT innovation, capitalising on Taiwan’s strengths in hardware and merging them with AI technology, to seize new business opportunities and upgrade its industries.
In response to the global startup revolution, the Taiwanese government has increased support substantially for startups at home and abroad through various initiatives that encourage entrepreneurship and innovation.
Southern Taiwan Science Park
One such initiative is being spearheaded by the Southern Taiwan Science Park (STSP), a science and technology centre of over a thousand hectares situated in the south of the country established in 1997 as part of Taiwan’s Economic Revitalization Project.
STSP was designed to achieve the goal of becoming a high-tech and industrial talent centre, creating new jobs and fostering growth among the Park’s enterprises.
Currently, there are 222 companies across three locations operating in various industries most notably in semiconductor, optoelectronic, energy, communication, precision machinery, biotechnology, and computer peripherals.
The STSP actively promotes innovation in various verticals and industries. One such example is the development of a biotechnology and medical device industry cluster in the Kaohsiung Science Park, which also falls under the jurisdiction of the STSP.
A key initiative this year is the AI_ROBOT@STSP, a base established to specifically support and encourage innovation and talent in AI and Robotics. AI_ROBOT@STSP will regularly host workshops and conferences onsite, enable and support the formation of maker communities, and proactively reach out to startups with programmes like TAIRA.
TAIRA stands for Taiwan AI and Robotics Accelerator, a programme designed specifically to fast-track startups working on AI and Robotics solutions through equity-free funding, access to product development resources, and early engagement to potential enterprise clients.
To take place in AI ROBOT@STSP in Tainan, the programme will run from June to November 2018.
TAIRA is looking for technology-driven AI and robotics startups working on solutions particularly in the agriculture, AR/VR, autonomous cars, drones, fintech, smart algorithms, healthcare, IoT, and smart manufacturing spaces, with a strong founding team looking to develop a tech cooperation with corporates in STSP.
Startups who will apply will have to pitch their product online or onsite, while selected startups will get access to technology development support and access to resources from STSP partners like IBM, NVIDIA, Google, Microsoft, and ASUS, among many others.
The programme also gives accepted startups the chance to brainstorm with and receive guidance from mentors of various expertise across different industries.
Apart from mentorship and resource support, startups will also receive up to US$100 thousand equity-free funding, as well as development and manufacturing support.
Given that TAIRA will take place within the STSP, participating startups would also have network-building opportunities to meet potential partners, clients, or investors.
TAIRA’s first overseas info session was held on Jan. 31st in Japan, at Tsukuba Center, Inc. (TCI). Over 15 deep tech startups with technologies covering unmanned vehicles, natural language processing, and innovative materials attended the session, with 3 teams successfully recruited for TAIRA.
With an extensive transportation network, high internet penetration, the highest mobile penetration rate in APAC, and an open attitude towards innovation, Taiwan is an ideal place for startups to test their offerings overseas.
The Taiwan AI and Robotics Accelerator programme is accepting applications until April 02, 2018. Interested applicants from anywhere in the world can apply here.
Disclosure: This article is produced by the e27 content marketing team, sponsored by Southern Taiwan Science Park.
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