Sat, May 17, 2014 - Page 8 News List

Innovation key to adding value

By Kengchi Goah 吳耿志

Hyundai and Kia cars made in South Korea are criss-crossing highways in the US, but Taiwan’s roads are also filled with imports. For every iPad sold, Foxconn, the assembler, makes only US$6, while Apple, the designer, makes US$230. Plenty of manufacturers in Greater Taichung are able to make ball bearings for motorcycles, but when it comes to high-impact truck wheels or aircraft landing gear, the firms are not part of the market.

So how can the nation make a mid-course trajectory correction to lift it out of economic stagnation?

There is no shortcut to making high-value-added products. Technological advances cannot be transferred or purchased; they must be learned with time and sweat. Taiwan should prepare to make a transition and plan to spend at least five years in development.

The ivory tower mentality does not build a solid, long-lasting technology foundation; hard work does. Therefore, people need to reject the foolish worshiping or glorification of doctorates.

There is no industry that will be dumped in the bucket labeled “sunset.” Is textile production a low-tech industry? No, it is not. Has anyone heard of the coming wave of “wearable electronics” — the integration of fabric and flexible electronics? People must open their eyes and minds to the possibilities, then they can lay claim to an infinite spectrum of possibilities.

Kengchi Goah is a senior research fellow at the Taiwan Public Policy Council in the US.

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