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Seven Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) were signed between Malaysian and Taiwanese firms across various fields, namely food, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, textile, IT services, healthcare and traffic solutions during the Malaysia-Taiwan Industrial Collaboration Summit held at the headquarters of the Malaysian Investment Development Authority (MIDA) today.
Among the MoUs signed include a collaboration between a Malaysian equipment company and a Taiwanese exporter, manufacturer and trading company, to develop functional fabric. With the MoU, both companies will not only be involved in the exchange of information and market expansion but will also explore innovative applications in the fashion industry supply chain.
The Deputy Secretary-General (Trade) of the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI) made an appearance at the event and said that the signing of the seven MoUs was a testament to the fact that Malaysia has the right conditions in place to attract foreign businesses in many areas.
These collaborations can further step up cooperation and exchanges between Malaysia and Taiwan.
According to the leaders present at the Summit, technology will continue to be the driving force of the changing landscape in businesses. Hence, it is important for the various companies to incorporate new ways of doing things to remain competitive.
Malaysia seeks to create a strong innovation climate that is driven by collaborations and technology transfers in high value-added areas, such as ICT, design and development, and the Internet of Things. Having the right incentives in place is also important.
As the country seeks to become a producer country, one that can churn out high-tech products, Malaysia’s leaders believe there is much that the country’s domestic players can learn from Taiwanese firms – especially in cultivating an innovation state of mind, according to the Deputy Secretary General (Trade) of MITI.
The full-day event featured sub-forums and business matching sessions with focus areas on textile, food, pharmaceutical, cosmetics, smart city solutions and IT services. There was also a sharing session by representatives of YSP Malaysia, Logic Art, Willowglen and Asli Mechanical.
Also present were the Deputy Director General of the Industrial Development Bureau (IDB), the Vice Chairman of the Chinese National Federation of Industries (CNFI), the Deputy Chief Executive Officer of MIDA, the President of the Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers (FMM), and Ms Anne Hung a Representative of Taipei Economic and Cultural Office (TECO) in Malaysia.
The event, which was jointly organised by CNFI and FMM, attracted over 300 participants ranging from the Taiwanese and Malaysian business community as well as government representatives.
The Malaysian Investment and IDA is the government’s principal promotion agency under the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI) to oversee and drive investments in the manufacturing and services sectors in Malaysia.
Starting operations in 1967 with a relatively small set up of 37 staff, MIDA has grown to become a strong and dynamic organisation of over 700 employees.
Headquartered in Kuala Lumpur Sentral, MIDA today has 12 regional and 20 overseas offices. MIDA continues to be the strategic partner to businesses in seizing the opportunities arising from the technology revolution of this era.
The event organised by MIDA will help to manifest the economic goals laid out in Malaysia’s Smart City initiatives which emphasise the importance of creating competitive, innovative and diverse economic opportunities to prepared for the challenges and opportunities of economic globalization. Particularly with regards to the aspects of economic growth and value creation, innovative economic growth, equitable wealth distribution and entrepreneurship. All of which the MoUs hope to achieve in steps.

Taiwan’s National Applied Research Labs (NAR Labs) and China
Medical University Hospital (CMUH) have come together to establish a strategic
partnership with the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Cluster (NAMIC)
in Singapore.

An international cooperation signing ceremony was organised on
27 March, where the parties jointly announced that they will collaborate on a range
of 3D
printing initiatives focused on bio-medical applications
, in the areas of
education, research, translation, and commercialisation.

The parties to the
agreement

Singapore announced plans in 2013 to invest S$500
million
(US$380 million) in 3D printing under a Future
of Manufacturing
 scheme. 

NAMIC is a national programme initiative in Singapore, led
by NTUitive, the Innovation and
Enterprise Company of Nanyang Technological University (NTU), to translate
upstream 3D printing research in universities and Institute of Higher Learnings
(IHLs) into downstream commercial applications, as well as lower barriers for
companies to incorporate additive manufacturing technologies into their core
businesses. It is supported by the National Research Foundation (NRF), Prime
Minister’s office, in partnership with SPRING Singapore and the Singapore
Economic Development Board (EDB).

The founding cluster members of NAMIC include the National University of Singapore Centre for Additive Manufacturing (AM.NUS), Nanyang Technological University Singapore Centre for 3D Printing (SC3DP), and the Digital Manufacturing and Design Centre (DManD) of the Singapore University of Technology and Design.

This is the second international collaboration initiative
from NAMIC. The first such collaboration was initiated in October 2017 with Shanghai Additive Manufacturing Association (SAMA) and Shanghai Additive Manufacturing Innovation Centre (SAMIC).

This initiative is in line with the Taiwan Government’s
Southbound Policy which aims to enhance cooperation and exchanges between
Taiwan and 18 countries in Southeast Asia, South Asia and Australasia.

To strengthen the competitive advantage of Taiwan's industry
in medical grade 3D-printing manufacturing, "NARLabs Medical Instrument
Value Creation Alliance" was established in 2014 and is headquartered at
the ITRC (Instrument
Technology Research Center). The alliance actively expands the industry value
through chain integration, in which Tongtai Machine & Tool and TTMC are key
strategic partners. Further, on 14th July 2016, NARLabs, Tongtai Machine &
Tool, China Steel, and TTMC launched a 3D-printing Joint Laboratory in Hsinchu Biomedical Park to develop
medical material and manufacturing equipment domestically, and announced a
collaboration to promote Taiwanese biotech and medical equipment on the global
market.

CMUH is the first integrated Chinese and western medicine
hospital in Taiwan. A 3D Printing Medical Research & Development Center was
set up in collaboration with Asia University, Taiwan, and the Georgia Institute
of Technology (Georgia Tech) over three years ago. The Centre carries out
advanced R&D of medical technology related to 3D printing and develops
customised biomedical devices.

The
three-party cooperation will bring international resources, funding, and
research team into the Hsinchu Biomedical Park. This will deepen the
mutual understanding between the Taiwanese and international
teams. At the same time, the access to international market resources and
marketing channels will promote Taiwan's biotechnology sector. 

The MOU Signing Ceremony between ITRI and NSTDA (Photo credit: ITRI)

A memorandum of understanding (MOU) was signed between Thailand’s National Science and Technology Development Agency (NSTDA) and Taiwan’s Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI) on June 1. The MOU is expected to create a mutually beneficial cooperation model and an ideal opportunity for economic and trade cooperation, manpower interaction, and the sharing of resources.

The MOU will pave the way for Taiwan companies to participate in the creation of an innovation-oriented economic corridor in the eastern part of Thailand. The Thailand government has been working on a large-scale economic reform plan called Thailand 4.0, to shift the country from a production-based to a service-based economy, moving from producing commodities to innovative products, emphasising on promoting technology, creativity, and innovation in the industries under focus.

Development of the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) at a cost of 1.5 trillion Thai Baht (US$44 billion) is a core part of this policy initiative. The goal is to turn the eastern region of Thailand into the most advanced economic development center in ASEAN. The EEC is expected to be a hub and corridor from which Thai products will enter Myanmar and Cambodia.

ITRI Chairman Dr. Tsung-Tsong Wu believes that Thailand’s current plan for integration of the supply chain for small- and medium-sized enterprises, along with enormous opportunities for entry into the Thai, Myanmar, and Cambodian markets, fits in with the Taiwan government’s New Southbound Policy, which seeks to enhance cooperation and exchanges between Taiwan and 18 countries in Southeast Asia, South Asia and Australasia.

ITRI and the NSTDA are leading science and technology R&D organizations in Taiwan and Thailand, respectively. Founded in 1973, ITRI is a nonprofit R&D organisation engaging in applied research and technical service. ITRI has played a vital role in Taiwan’s economic growth, supporting the economy’s shift from a labor-intensive into a value-added, innovation-driven one. NSTDA is a Thai government agency which supports research in science and technology and its application in the Thai economy.

Going forward, the two organisations will support each other with their respective expertise in science and technology. Future cooperation and interaction between the two organizations would aid the creation of an innovation-oriented industrial value chain.

Mr Francis Liang giving his welcome remarks as the Guest-of-Honour at the Taiwan Excellence 2017 Products Showcase at Communic Asia 2017 (Photo credit: Taiwan External Trade Development Council or TAITRA)

Taiwan’s Information and Communications Technology (ICT) companies form a key part of the global ICT ecosystem. Taiwanese companies hold huge market shares in semiconductors, PCs, mobile devices, broadband appliances and display products and technologies.

The ICT industry today is evolving at an unprecedented pace, as we enter into the era of Industry 4.0. Governments around the world are adopting measures to prepare their economies for the ongoing transformation. Taiwan is no exception.

Taiwan recently launched its Digital Nation and Innovative Economic Development Plan (2017-2025), known as “DIGI+”. One of the plan’s main goals is to grow Taiwan’s digital economy to NT$6.5 trillion (US$205.9 billion) by 2025.  The component strategies focus on infrastructure, talent, cross-industry transformation, digital rights, smart cities and boosting aiwan’s standing in the global digital service economy.

OpenGov conducted a joint email interview with Mr. Francis Liang Kuo-Hsin, Representative, Taipei Representative Office1 and Dr. Chiueh Tzi-Cker, Vice President & General Director, Industrial Technology Research Institute of Taiwan2 (ITRI) to learn about the envisaged future for Taiwan’s ICT industry.

Could you please provide an overview of the landscape of Taiwan’s ICT industry, including large corporates, SMEs and startups?

Mr. Francis Liang Kuo-Hsin:

The Information & Communications Technology (ICT) sector has always been Taiwan’s source of pride. Over the last four decades, Taiwan has been highly regarded as a vital player and major procurement centre for global ICT companies and buyers.  Taiwan’s advanced research and manufacturing capabilities in semiconductors, PCs, mobile devices, broadband appliances, and cutting-edge displays, has made the country the world’s biggest supplier of these products.

         The industrial clusters of electronics companies in Taiwan offer clear cost and time-to-market advantages, making Taiwan an excellent one-stop shop for procurement, design support, and rapid commercialisation of product ideas. Many of Taiwan’s biggest brands are tapping this manufacturing expertise to offer consumers innovative products and better value.
         
         
         

With the emergence of the Internet-of-Things (IoT) and smart technologies, Taiwan is now gearing towards shifting from high tech manufacturing to an intellectual property and innovation-driven economy. Through the Asia.Silicon Valley Initiative, our government is positioning Taiwan as the regional link that connects Asia to Silicon Valley players, as well as a global hub for tech entrepreneurs.

Dr. Chiueh Tzi-Cker giving his insights on integrating existing technologies in the push towards Smart Living at Communic Asia 2017 (Photo credit: TAITRA)

Dr. Chiueh Tzi-Cker:

According to the latest official statistics report from the Ministry of Economic Affairs, R.O.C, the number of companies in Taiwan is 1,416,738 including 32,757 large corporations (2.31%) and 1,383,981 SMEs (97.69%). Taiwanese startups totaled 98,320. The numbers are as of end 2015. The report underscores the importance of ICT industry in Taiwan as its gross production amounted USD92,300 million, contributing 16.5% of the total GDP in Taiwan.

What are your views on the prospects for Taiwan’s ICT industry going forward? What are the priorities and major challenges?

Mr. Francis Liang Kuo-Hsin:

Priorities

Part of Taiwan’s strategic priorities to build a sustainable economy includes investment in industrial innovation, as summed up in Taiwan’s “5+2 Industrial Innovation” plan.

         The 5+2 refers to the seven vital sectors of Taiwan’s economy: biotech and pharmaceuticals, green energy, national defense, smart machinery, and the IoT, as well as the ‘circular economy’ and agricultural development.  The concept of ‘circular economy’ was adopted by Taiwan from the Netherlands and is based on principles of restoration and regeneration, aiming to keep products, components, and materials at their highest utility and value.
         
         
         

Overall, Taiwan’s key aims are to spur innovation, enhance employment and income distribution, and bring a more balanced regional development for Taiwan across different sectors.

Under the pillar for IoT is a flagship program called the Asia Silicon Valley Development Plan, which aims to establish Taiwan as the hub between the Asia region and Silicon Valley, particularly in IoT development, and for making the country a global center for tech entrepreneurship. The plan supports Taiwan’s goals of increasing its global IoT market share from 3.8% in 2015 to 5% in 2025, which according to Gartner’s projections could be worth US $11 trillion by 2025. Taiwan has made inroads with Microsoft and Qualcomm who have chosen to establish their IoT research centres in Taiwan. There are also over 140 organisations that have joined the Asia.Silicon Valley IoT Alliance with a goal to further advance the industry.

Mr. Francis Liang (second from right) expressing his interest in Advantech WebAccess, the core of Advantech's IoT solutions at Taiwan Excellence Pavilion at Communic Asia 2017 (Photo credit: TAITRA)

Recent initiative

As part of Taiwan’s national strategy to develop an intellectual property (IP) and innovation-driven economy, the country developed and implemented the Taiwan Industry Image Enhancement Project (IEP), which aims to enhance the image of Taiwanese brands and help them expand their business internationally.

One of the recently concluded projects under IEP is Taiwan Excellence’s inaugural participation at CommunicAsia 2017, an annual enterprise technology conference and exhibition organised in Singapore. Through the Taiwan External Trade Development Council (TAITRA), Taiwan brought for the first time the Taiwan Excellence brand to CommunicAsia creating an opportunity for Taiwanese companies to break into the Southeast Asian market and providing members of the regional ICT industry to interact with cutting-edge technologies and innovations from leading Taiwanese companies like Acer, Advantech, ASUS, Planet and VIVOTEK, among others. 

Challenges

One of the major challenges that Taiwan faces today is the shortage of talent. As such, Taiwanese ICT companies need to put greater attention to attracting and retaining talent within the industry.

Furthermore, with the re-industrialisation in Europe and North America and the rise of China as a manufacturing power, there is an urgent need for industrial transformation to remain competitive.  

Are there any specific areas in technology that are expected to drive growth? Can you share some developments in emerging technologies such as AI, data analytics, and IoT etc.?

Dr. Chiueh Tzi-Cker:

Emerging technologies in areas such as artificial intelligence, robotics, IoT, are expected to drive growth in today’s Industry 4.0 era. For instance, automated guided vehicles (AGVs) and autonomous drones will help increase productivity and reduce manpower reliance for industries across logistics, manufacturing, and retail.

The ITRI has introduced several exciting, state-of-the-art technologies including an intelligent vision system for companion robots, and a remotely operated autonomous drone. In addition, ITRI has also just released a smart pesticide detector featuring micro optical inspection, which was awarded the COMPUTEX 2017 Best Choice Award.

         In Taiwan and in Asia, ITRI is promoting the NSOS or next-generation system software for smartphone technology. NSOS is designed to increase the added value of commodity Android phones. Some features of this project include: solving the BYOD security problem via smartphone virtualization; providing more personalised services via accurate inference of dynamic user interests; and offering more streamlined smartphone usage experiences via programmatic app control by leveraging on the capabilities of existing apps.
         
         
         

Specifically, the smartphone virtualisation technology enables a physical smartphone to be used as multiple virtual smartphones, e.g., one for office use (more secure and less secure), another for personal use (more flexible but less secure), and the third for app trial (risky but free). This way, a smartphone user only needs to carry one physical device, and then uses it in different ways in different contexts, without interfering one another.

Taiwan is well-known for its high-tech manufacturing industries. Ms. Audrey Tang, Taiwan’s Digital Minister, said in an SCMP article that “it is unhealthy to emphasise on any one industry.” What is being done to promote interaction and collaboration across different industries within Taiwan?

Mr. Francis Liang Kuo-Hsin:

It is important for industry leaders to realise the importance of cross-industry collaboration. This will help create a synergy when companies exchange ideas and views with their counterparts in other industries.

In 2016, Taiwan launched the Digital Nation and Innovative Economic Development Plan (2017-2025) known as “DIGI+”. One of the highlights of this program includes spurring cross-industry digital innovation. This includes utilising a digital innovation ecosystem that features integrated hardware and software capabilities to increase cross-industry cooperation; helping industries develop innovative applications of digital technology, and enhancing enterprise-level digital operations that accelerate the transformation and improvement of domestic industries. With these actions, the digital economy will continue to develop and expand.

What are the expected implications of the Digital Nation Plan for Taiwan’s ICT industry? 

Mr. Francis Liang Kuo-Hsin:

According to a report from G20 Insights, one of the key challenges within the ICT industry is the lack of digital infrastructure and services. With Taiwan’s Digital Nation Plan, the government will be working with telecom providers to ensure that broadband made available to all its citizens.

Also dubbed DIGI+, the 8-year Digital Nation Plan was launched this year to reinvigorate and expand Taiwan’s digital economy. Its goals are to increase Internet bandwidth, bridge the digital divide between urban and rural areas, and raise Taiwan’s position to the top 10 spots in the global information sector. The strategic plan is also aimed at helping the country attain a digital economy valued at NT$6.5 trillion (US$205.9 billion).

In sync with the growing trend around the world for IoT, the enhancement of digital infrastructure will help boost the ICT industry and in turn, help improve the nation’s GDP and further propel it into the digital age.

This March the government announced a NT$46.056 billion (US$1.51 billion) over the next eight years to improve the nation’s digital infrastructure and bridge the rural-urban divide. Can you tell us about the involvement of the ICT industry in that, as an enabler or beneficiary?

Mr. Francis Liang Kuo-Hsin:

Taiwan’s Internet penetration rate in 2015 was 84.8 percent. With the rise of the IoT in the recent years, more devices will be connected and this highlights an urgent need for the government to make efforts providing Internet access for its citizens and businesses to keep up with the global trend and ensure its relevance in the increasingly competitive business landscape.

This will make the ICT sector a crucial enabler for Taiwan’s push for a digital nation. The ICT industry will also play an increasingly imperative role in transforming people’s lives, and improving efficiency for businesses, education, and the government.

How is the Taiwan government dealing with the regulatory aspects of new technologies such as fintech and what is their impact on the industry? 

Mr. Francis Liang Kuo-Hsin:

Fintech, currently on its nascent stage in Taiwan, is a sector with high growth potential. We recognise the massive opportunity in fintech as confirmed by financial industry observers. Emerging financial technologies such as blockchain represent a tremendous opportunity to enhance secure and efficient sharing of information across Taiwan’s financial conglomerates.

To set the stage right for the flourishing fintech sector, Taiwanese government has made considerable investment to establish dedicated organisations and funding schemes to develop and implement plans to boost fintech development. For example, the Fintech Office under the Taiwan Financial Supervisory Commission (FSC), regulator for security markets, banking and insurance sector, has been established to develop and implement strategies that are geared towards the digitalisation of the financial environment, mobile payment, third party payment, Internet financing or peer-to-peer lending, online investment, and IoT, among others.

Last year, the government also launched FintechBase, an initiative aimed to assist the accelerator FinTech Development Foundation with investments in startups as well as courses and international accelerator resources and services. The accelerator raised NT$200 million (US$6.4 million) in 2016 from banks, brokerages, insurance associations and other financial institutions during its first fundraising effort.

         On top of said initiatives, Taiwanese regulators have made it a top priority to put in place risk management measures and to promote fintech development in compliance with international regulations. The Taiwanese government aims to protect the finance industry and consumers and prevent online finance crimes and other risks. Through said protective measures, Taiwan seeks to maintain Taiwan’s attractiveness as a destination for foreign investment.
         
         
         

This year itself, 2017, the FSC is prioritising the implementation of a “regulatory sandbox” that will enable both financial institutions and fintech developers to test new products and services for a trial period of up to nine months without the constraints of regulations that typically will apply to the financial sector.

How is the Taiwanese government working with tech startups and SMEs to build an ecosystem where innovation can thrive?

Mr. Francis Liang Kuo-Hsin:

In Taiwan, more than 97% of enterprises are SMEs and about 100,000 new companies are founded every year. The Taiwanese government has also realised the importance of this growing and vibrant startup community that is set to transform a number of industries within the country.

One initiative is the “HeadStart Taiwan” Project, a program established by the National Development Council (NDC) in 2014. According to the NDC, HeadStart Taiwan is “the latest project focusing on the establishment of an ecosystem that supports the inception and scaling of ‘Businesses of the Future.”

         HeadStart will do this through three key steps: deregulation, investment from global funds, and building startup clusters.
         
         
         

To further help these startups venture into the global market, the Taiwan Startup Stadium (TSS) was also launched in 2015. The TSS is a hub that coaches Taiwanese startups to venture into the global markets through intensive programs, strong leadership, and a broad network of global partners.

Additionally, the recently launched Digital Nation Plan also included the building of a licensed communications system packed with information that anyone, but especially high-tech startups, can use for their own development.

These government initiatives provide a conducive incubating ground for startups, allowing them to “fail without incurring costs” and help promote an ecosystem for innovation, according to Ms. Audrey Tang, Taiwan’s Digital Minister.

Some of the successful Taiwanese startups include:

Gogoro, a game-changing electric scooter manufacturer created by HTC executives and drew more than US$150 million in venture capital from names like Cher Wang of HTC and Dr. Samuel Lin of Ruentex Group.

Qsearch, a data analysis tool that allows enterprises more precision in Facebook ad targeting than native Facebook ads, is another promising startup developed by National Taiwan University graduate Elliot Chou. Qsearch could conceivably expand ad revenue for Facebook, as well as increase profits for advertisers all while taking a tidy cut of the bigger pie for itself.

AirSig, focused on authentication and signatures for accounts and official documents, is another successful case study. Founded by Pokai Chen, a former Acer employee, AirSig is the first developer to intelligently address this problem with its algorithm and system for “signing” using the mobile device. The company has recently attracted international attention for its potential, but also has attracted serious venture capital from Taiwanese giant Foxconn.

1The Taipei Representative Office in Singapore is the Republic of China's (Taiwan) government representative office in Singapore. It is responsible for promoting Taiwan and Singapore's bilateral relations in the areas of the economy, trade, investment, the media, tourism, culture, education, and science and technology.

2Founded in 1973, ITRI is a nonprofit R&D organization engaging in applied research and technical services. ITRI has been dedicated to helping industries in Taiwan stay competitive and sustainable.

Last week OpenGov published a joint interview with Mr. Francis Liang Kuo-Hsin, Representative, Taipei Representative Office and Dr. Chiueh Tzi-Cker, Vice President & General Director, Industrial Technology Research Institute of Taiwan (ITRI), discussing the development of Taiwan’s digital economy.

Founded in 1973, ITRI is a nonprofit R&D organization engaging in applied research and technical services. ITRI has been dedicated to helping industries in Taiwan stay competitive and sustainable.

Subsequently, we received additional detailed responses from Dr. Chiueh to some of the questions. Here, we have collated his responses. He talks about the pressures of price competition and the need for manufacturers to move beyond the confines of just “Hardware” or “Software”, into the systematic software and hardware integration development. Dr. Chuieh highlights Taiwan’s strengths in human capital, established industrial chain and entrepreneurial culture, which could enable the industry to leverage trends in big data, 5G, IoT, AI and move to the next level.

Could you please provide an overview of the landscape of Taiwan’s ICT industry, including large corporates, SMEs and startups?

According to the latest official statistics report from the Ministry of Economic Affairs, R.O.C, the number of companies in Taiwan is 1,416,738 including 32,757 large corporations (2.31%) and 1,383,981 SMEs (97.69%). Taiwanese startups totaled 98,320. The numbers are as of end 2015. The report underscores the importance of ICT industry in Taiwan as its gross production amounted USD92,300 million, contributing 16.5% of the total GDP in Taiwan.

What are your views on the prospects for Taiwan’s ICT going forward? What are the priorities and challenges? 

While industries in Taiwan continue to enjoy some success in the hardware business, Taiwan faces immense pressure particularly stiff price competition from Chinese and well-established global manufacturers. As technology moves to the third platform such as mobile, big data, and cloud computing among others, software and services industry shows great promise and value add. Taiwan’s ICT industry needs to transform itself from a low-cost, manufacturing efficiency industry to a high value, innovation-driven economy.

The development of cross-domain integration systems is becoming a global trend and hence, it is important for ICT manufacturers to move beyond the confines of just “Hardware” or “Software”, and venture into the systematic software and hardware integration development.

System software is software that combines with specific hardware, to which value-added upgrades may be performed for years to come. The most valuable aspect of system software is its control management function, for example: Industry 4.0 control software, vehicle control software, and automated driving management software.

The ICT manufacturers in Taiwan must embrace software to provide high quality software-hardware integrated systems and perfect solutions that are required to upgrade themselves from being hardware OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturers) to system suppliers.

We anticipate it will be necessary to exert considerable efforts to improve our software capability and hardware value in order to elevate Taiwan’s ICT industry to the next level.

Besides, Taiwan has many advantages that other countries lack, such as high-quality human resources, a pragmatic and reliable culture among engineers, a well-developed industrial chain, highly flexible small and medium-sized enterprises, and a famous spirit of entrepreneurship. By capitalising on our competitive edge, Taiwan’s industries will be able to enjoy a prosperous and long-lasting future.

Are there any specific areas in technology that are expected to drive growth? Can you share some developments in emerging technologies such as AI, data analytics, and IoT etc.?

Emerging technologies in areas such as artificial intelligence, robotics, IoT, are expected to drive growth in today’s Industry 4.0 era. For instance, automated guided vehicles (AGVs) and autonomous drones will help increase productivity and reduce manpower reliance for industries across logistics, manufacturing, and retail.

The ITRI has introduced several exciting, state-of-the-art technologies including an intelligent vision system for companion robots, and a remotely operated autonomous drone. In addition, ITRI has also just released a smart pesticide detector featuring micro optical inspection, which was awarded the COMPUTEX 2017 Best Choice Award.

In Taiwan and in Asia, ITRI is promoting the NSOS or next-generation system software for smartphone technology. NSOS is designed to increase the added value of commodity Android phones. Some features of this project include: solving the BYOD security problem via smartphone virtualisation; providing more personalised services via accurate inference of dynamic user interests; and offering more streamlined smartphone usage experiences via programmatic app control by leveraging on the capabilities of existing apps.

Specifically, the smartphone virtualisation technology enables a physical smartphone to be used as multiple virtual smartphones, e.g., one for office use (more secure and less secure), another for personal use (more flexible but less secure), and the third for app trial (risky but free). This way, a smartphone user only needs to carry one physical device, and then uses it in different ways in different contexts, without interfering one another.

Are there specific technology areas that are expected to drive growth? Can you share some developments in emerging technologies such as AI, data analytics and IOT? 

Global trends in big data, 5G, IoT, AI drive the transition of ICT industry, whereas big data drives data center and server industry in Taiwan. Taiwan government has launched the Asia.Silicon Valley project aiming to transform Taiwan into an R&D hub for IoT as well as the integration of software and hardware to create a global center of entrepreneurship.

Device makers move down to the value chain to offer platform and services. Small, low power consumption, sensor and identification are needed for integrated circuit (IC). Advanced communication technology drives demand for small cell. AI drives the rise of accelerated computing in data centers. Decades of success in Taiwan’s ICT hardware industry will bring opportunities to prospective growth from the new global ICT trend fueled by the trend-driven innovation. 

While Taiwan’s advantage lies in its information technology, Taiwanese companies have developed UAVs or Unmanned Aerial Vehicles manufacturing ecosystem; this shows Taiwanese companies could be suppliers of both hardware and software solutions.

For the suppliers of autonomous vehicles, there are major sensor systems including camera modules, millimeter wave[1] radars and LiDAR[2] for existing advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) development. ADAS helps boost Taiwan millimeter wave sensors and camera modules makers. Taiwan ICT industry gains momentum with growing connected car technology investment. The government’s Digital Nation and Innovative Economic Development Plan (DIGI+) (2017-2025) has included Unmanned Vehicle as one of the advanced research technologies, and there will be a significant funding support to advance the emerging technologies in Taiwan.

AI has been recognised within the tech sector as the next big thing after smartphones, and it presents an excellent opportunity for an upgrade of Taiwan’s high-tech industry. The emerging technologies, AI and machine learning, which include technologies such as deep learning, neural networks and natural-language processing, can also encompass more advanced systems that understand, learn, predict, adapt and potentially operate autonomously. AI and machine learning will also increase the need for big data analytics. Its influence on industries and businesses will have direct impact on products and services and the upgrading of industries through the use of AI in production, management or commercial processes.

Taiwanese businesses face a more urgent task to convert their key processes and management know-how into an AI system to maintain their competitiveness. To actively support Taiwan’s position as digital innovation, Board of Science and Technology (BOST), the Executive Yuan is planning to include AI strategy in Strategic Review Board Meetings for Taiwan’s Intelligent System and IC Industry. Although Taiwan may not be able to match what giant companies are doing, there is a niche direction that Taiwan can go from master technologies and applications in specific industrial fields, which in turn provides plenty of opportunities out there for Taiwanese industries.

[1]Millimeter wave or Extremely High Frequency Waves constitute an undeveloped band of spectrum that can be used in a broad range of products and services like high speed, point-to-point wireless local area networks (WLANs) and broadband access. Researchers are testing 5G wireless broadband technology on millimeter wave spectrum.  

[2] LiDAR or Light Detection and Ranging measures distance to a target by illuminating that target with a pulsed laser light, and measuring the reflected pulses with a sensor. Differences in laser return times and wavelengths can then be used to make digital 3D-representations of the target. Originally used in airborne and ground surveying to make high-resolution maps, the technology is being used for control and navigation for some autonomous cars. 

          One government in Asia that has and continues to look to its people to bring fresh talent their agencies and drive innovative initiatives is Taiwan.

          Taiwan has a population close to 24 million and has approximately 90,000 volunteers on weekends and nights writing open source code to make government websites and apps better, individually and free of charge. It is up to the government to review the open source code and decide whether to take it further.

          This shows its people wanting to be part of the government transformation in the country.

          Taiwan has one online community called g0v.tw who works with government leaders willing to partner with the community's members. The g0v.tw effortitself began some years earlier with the goal of providing open source tools to better visualize data associated with Taiwan's government.

          As part of the "Sunflower Movement"in Taiwan and other parts of Asia, g0v.tw and other collaborators voluntarily spent their time writing open source tools to help peaceful protestors mobilize and provide rational discussions in a way that reduced the spread of online rumors.

          g0v.tw is made up of voluntary with individuals putting in time at night and on the weekends to help code. They have monthly meet-ups and hackathons to reinforce collaboration and members living in different regions or with different focus areas actively self-organize weekend sessions. It is usually with the focus to influence government with public opinion.

          What a way to spend a weekend!

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