Thu, Nov 13, 2003 - Page 10 News List

Innovation center will bring diverse talent to Hsinchu

By Jessie Ho  /  STAFF REPORTER

In a bid to promote Taiwan's creative industry, the semi-official Industrial Technology Research Institute (工研院) plans to open an "innovation center" early next year.

The center, which would be located in the institute's complex in Hsinchu, is designed to churn ideas into marketable consumer goods, an official said yesterday.

"At the proposed center, we hope to bring in talent in different areas to brainstorm brilliant ideas ... Then we can transform these ideas into a wide range of industrial designs," Hsueh Wen-jean (薛文珍), vice director of the institute's Optoelectronics and Systems Laboratories, said yesterday at a press conference.

The institute, a government-sponsored non-profit organization for applied research established in 1973, is dubbed the cradle of Taiwan's semiconductor industry. While the institute is known for helping Taiwan's industries make the transformation from labor-intensive to technology-oriented, the government hopes the institute can help improve the nation's innovation base.

"Many industry experts and researchers are good at what they are doing, but they can hardly think outside the box. This is why we need to gather staff from different backgrounds to spark new thinking that will benefit people's lives in the future," said Hsueh, who will become the director of the yet-to-be-established center.

Taiwan is transforming itself from a manufacturing-based economy to a research and development-oriented one, as the nation sees an increasing number of manu-facturers relocate to places such as China for cost-efficient production.

People in the private sector acknowledge that innovation is the key to improving the nation's economy, but most of them, especially those in small-and-medium scale enterprises, do not know how to innovate. This idea led to the center, Hsueh said.

"As we come out with competitive products in the market, we can make considerable profits from the copyright royalties paid by other companies, rather than earning small money from manufacturing," she added.

Hsueh took the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Media Laboratory as an example, saying that the lab serves as a pioneer in coordinating the efforts of aca-demia and industry.

To develop the proposed center, the institute has not ruled out the possibility of recruiting overseas talent, Hsueh said, adding that she will elaborate on the issue at a series of forums to be held next week in Taipei.

The four-day "International Technology Leaders Forum" beginning on Monday will feature guest speakers giving lectures on the creative industry, nanotechnology, knowledge-based economy and a workshop on Taiwan-Canada technology collaboration.

Guest speakers include Nicholas Negroponte, founder of MIT Media Lab; Hiroyuki Yoshikawa, president of Japan's Agency of Industrial Science and Technology; Eli Opper, chief scientist at the Ministry of Industry & Trade in Israel; Arthur Carty, president of Canada's National Research Council; and Toshiro Shimoyama, supreme advisor at Olympus Optical Co.

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