Research budget to increase by NT$4.7bn

By Lin Chia-nan  /  Staff reporter

Wed, Aug 21, 2019 - Page 1

Next year’s basic research budget is to increase by NT$4.7 billion (US$149.7 million), with a focus on technologies related to 5G, cybersecurity and precision medicine, Minister of Science and Technology Chen Liang-gee (陳良基) said yesterday.

Chen made the remarks on the sidelines of the Ministry of Science and Technology’s 60th anniversary celebration, where he remarked on the nation’s scientific development before and after the ministry was restructured from the National Science Council in March 2014.

Several academic societies and Academia Sinica members last year criticized the ministry for cutting the basic research budget to fund industrial projects, such as artificial intelligence (AI) technology.

Chen at the time said that the ministry’s overall funding for basic research actually rose, while in May he told a meeting at the Legislative Yuan that the nation’s long-term technological competitiveness could be undermined by a decline in government funding for academic research.

According to the Cabinet’s budget for next year released on Thursday last week, tech development funds are to total NT$9.9 billion, up NT$4.3 billion from last year, while a special budget of NT$17.7 billion would be allocated from the second-stage Forward-looking Infrastructure Development Program.

The plan is still subject to legislative review.

Chen said that his stated goal of increasing the basic research budget by 10 percent every year is likely to be realized, as next year’s proposed budget for basic research would rise from NT$25 billion to NT$29.7 billion under the instruction of President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文).

Chen said the additional NT$4.7 billion would be reserved for basic research projects and he hoped the budget would grow at the same rate over the next five years.

Projects related to 5G, cybersecurity, precision medicine and universal healthcare would be the ministry’s key development directions next year, he said.

As the world is becoming increasingly digitized, protecting personal and industry data is the government’s duty, he said, adding that the Executive Yuan would propose an integrated policy to address cybersecurity challenges.

After Deputy Minister of Science and Technology Hsu Yu-chin (許有進) last month led a delegation to India to establish additional connections in AI and humanities research, the ministry is mulling visits to European nations that have similar scopes, such as Sweden and the Netherlands, to seek new collaboration opportunities, Chen added.