Auckland Mayor Len Brown, who recently led a trade delegation to Taiwan, said his city aspires to be a high-tech, innovation hub like Taiwan in the Asia-Pacific region.
Calling Taiwan the “Eastern Silicon Valley,” Brown said during his delegation’s week-long visit last month that there are many similarities between New Zealand and Taiwan.
“We share a common endeavor to use high-tech innovation for economic advancement and export gain,” said Brown, the first mayor of Auckland since its amalgamation into a “super city.”
He said he expects the joint venture capital fund between New Zealand and Taiwan to be used to support high-tech startups in the two countries in sectors such as food and beverage, biotechnology, health science, machinery and telecommunications.
The fund between the New Zealand Venture Investment Fund and Taiwan’s National Development Fund was announced on Oct. 17 and is to commit up to US$164 million to venture capital funds in both nations.
The unique fund “shows the fact that we are excited about the potential of two small global neighbors supporting each other in their endeavors to become economically sustainable,” he said.
Reiterating Taiwan’s strength in the high-tech sector, Brown said what he loves most about Taiwan is the commitment of the Taiwanese government to invest in science parks and bring private industry along, an action which he said has been lacking in his own country.
He added he hopes things such as the venture capital fund and a planned economic agreement between New Zealand and Taiwan would become a catalyst for the establishment of such high-tech parks in New Zealand.
“We’re about 30 years behind Taiwan,” Brown said. “We’re only starting to develop [parks].”
He said certain industries, such as the marine, food and beverage and biotechnology sectors in Auckland need to undergo high-tech innovation.
Brown visited science parks, museums, public transportation networks and waste management sites in Taichung, Taipei, Hsinchu and New Taipei City (新北市) during his visit.
He also re-signed an economic and cultural agreement with Auckland’s partner city, Taichung, that focuses on cooperation in areas like urban development, trade, science and technology, arts and culture, and education and social development.
After a visit to the Muzha (木柵) refuse incineration plant in Taipei, Brown said he would evaluate the possibility of applying such technology in Auckland, which does not use incinerators.
“There has been a concern that they are not environmentally sustainable, but I think the new incinerator technology is absolutely top quality,” he said.
Brown added his city is looking to sign agreements with Taiwan’s film industry in the areas of animation and digital technology to incorporate Taiwan’s technical expertise into the production and post-production of films in New Zealand.