Taiwania mainly functions as a national executive team for the Taiwan government's international venture capital investment, with "5 + 2 focus industries" proposed by the National Development Council as target areas of investment: smart machinery, Asia Silicon Valley Development Plan, green energy technology, biotechnology and biomedicine, national defense plus new agriculture and circular economy. Besides venture capital investment, Taiwania has enhanced linkage with entrepreneurship sphere through setting up Taiwania Young Entrepreneurs Academy and other channels to play the role of a partner for startups and help local enterprises in digital transformation, according to Taiwan Capital Management Corporation CEO David Weng.
With strong technological capability, Taiwan-based startups need to be global market-minded
Benefiting from Taiwan's education in science and well-developed ICT industries, most of Taiwan-based startups are strong in technological capability, making them advantageous in international competition. If startups' innovative technologies and new ideas are integrated with ICT supply chain makers and their experience, for example, integration of medical care with ICT hardware solutions for use in telemedicine and smart medical care, startups will see many development opportunities.
Since the Taiwan market is relatively small, Taiwan-based startups should think of the global market for future business operation, with members of teams familiar with and experienced in international marketing, and develop feasible business models to internationalize business operation.
Taiwan-based startups need to watch trends of international development as well. Before US-China trade disputes, the US and China had each attracted much international venture capital investment in local startups due to large domestic markets. Following the trade disputes, there has been almost no venture capital investment in Silicon Valley-based startups from China and the US has gradually curbed such investment in China-based startups. The trend is still under way and Taiwan-based startups have to take it into account in fund-raising planning, including choosing origin countries of funds.
While the coronavirus pandemic has caused large reduction in person-to-person contacts, video conferencing arising from the pandemic has greatly helped Taiwan-based startups reach out globally, having caught attention from international venture capital firms and fund managers to development of startups in Taiwan. Consequently, they are motivated to source technology-based startups in Taiwan, especially those specializing in semiconductors. In addition to offering counseling services for and investing in Taiwan-based startups, Taiwania will help international venture capital firms invest in Taiwan-based startups to strengthen international linkage for Taiwan's entrepreneurship sphere.
Software/hardware integration to make Taiwan-based startups internationally unique and competitive
As software/hardware integration becomes a trend along with development of 5G and AI, Taiwan has a complete ICT supply chain which is globally advantageous and unique in semiconductor technology, production clustering, high efficiency and good quality. Taiwan has to capitalize on and enhance the advantages to make development of startups internationalized and even a global hub for such development. In view of the uniqueness in Taiwan, Taiwania has encouraged invested startups in the US to set up R&D centers in Taiwan to strengthen exchange with local startups.
Taiwan-based venture capital firms have paid much attention to biomedical fields, including startups in digital health, in recent years. Since outbreak of the pandemic, they have focused on remote medical care of which development needs to be combined with telecom and ICT technologies. Combination of biomedicine and biotechnology with ICT can be foreseen as a trend for development of digital health and therefore, Taiwan has to promote combination of biomedicine and medical care with ICT supply chain, AI and other innovative technologies to boost development of smart medical care such as predictive medicine.
As venture capital is to invest in future technologies, Taiwania currently focuses on investment in startups specializing in the four areas: Cybersecurity, smart enterprise, electric vehicles, next-generation semiconductor.
Investment in cybersecurity focuses on next-generation network security technologies including SASE (secure access service edge), SOAR (security orchestration, automation and response); that in smart enterprise on AI, big data and other technologies to help enterprises in digital transformation; that in electric vehicles on sensing used in autonomous driving, new materials and digital twin technology; that in next-generation semiconductors on new compound semiconductor materials, miniaturization of sensors and hybrid computing.
Enhance international marketing to make Taiwan entrepreneurship hub in Southeast Asia
Development of startups varies characteristically among different countries, for example, the US can attract startup talent and teams as well as venture capital investment by virtue of excellent framework for development of startups and entrepreneurship culture. Taiwan has to capitalize on advantages of ICT technologies and competitiveness to strengthen international presence. Particularly following US-China trade wars and the pandemic, Taiwan's technological capability, high-quality talent, democracy based on rule of law and open society will become more attractive to international venture capital firms and startup teams.
For internationalization, the Taiwan government can help Taiwan-based startup teams attend international exhibitions and conventions as well as tap the international market and, in addition, enhance its international advertising of Taiwan to attract international incubation mentors and accelerators to Taiwan to make an entrepreneurship ecosystem featuring internationalization.
Besides, there is fast development of startups in Southeast Asia, especially in software and application services. Taiwan can provide ICT technologies and supply chains concerned for cooperation with startups in the region and will thereby become the hub of entrepreneurship in Southeast Asia and a globally important service base for entrepreneurs.
Taiwania Capital CEO David Weng
(Editor's note: Readers can download "2021 Taiwan Startup Ecosystem Survey" jointly conducted by PwC Taiwan, TIER and DIGITIMES: https://www.pwc.tw/en/publications/taiwan-startup-ecosystem-survey.html)