Taiwanese start-ups can look to their Israeli counterparts for inspiration to gain international significance, Taiwan External Trade Development Council (TAITRA, 外貿協會) chairman James Huang (黃志芳) said yesterday at InnoVEX — a special Computex Taipei section devoted to innovation and start-ups.
“Our start-ups have narrow mindsets, they lack a global perspective,” Huang told the Taipei Times, adding that emerging Taiwanese entrepreneurs often design products with only the domestic market in mind, while Israeli start-ups design products for the world.
Local start-ups also often face financial difficulties, he said.
“Taiwan’s VC [venture capital] scale has dramatically shrunk in the past 20 years due to changes in the ecosystem,” Huang said, adding that good start-ups are in desperate need of international funding.
Local start-ups are often short of good marketing strategies, which their Israeli counterparts excel at, he said.
“They know how to tell stories” about their products, he said.
While Israel has the highest number of start-ups per capita in the world, the nation faces challenges transforming into a scale-up nation, said Denes Ban, a managing partner at OurCrowd, during a panel discussion led by Huang.
“There are many similarities between Israel and Taiwan, but our economies are different,” Israeli Representative to Taiwan Asher Yarden said, adding that the manufacturing industry in Israel is not on the same scale as Taiwan’s.
This leads to Israeli start-ups exiting the market prematurely as they sell themselves to bigger companies, Yarden said, citing Mobileye NV’s 2017 sale to Intel Corp.
“Israel is very strong in the ‘R’ part of R&D [research and development], while Taiwan is strong in the ‘D’ part,” Ban said, adding that both nations should leverage their advantages through further exchanges.
“Taiwan and Israel’s business models should be complementary,” Huang said, adding that Taiwan could serve as a manufacturing base for Israeli start-ups, while local start-ups could assimilate business models from their counterparts in the Middle East.
TAITRA this year set up an office in Tel-Aviv to boost business collaborations, he said.
The cultural aspect might also play an important part in the way start-ups from both nations behave, Yarden said.
“We’re not afraid of failure,” he said, adding that Taiwanese start-ups are often less willing to take risks.
The overall business atmosphere in Israel is much less formal and this encourages innovation and exchanges, which are essential to the survival of start-ups, Yarden said.
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