Mon, Apr 04, 2016 - Page 3 News List

INTERVIEW: New industries call for new methodologies

Referring to the incoming Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) government’s plans to develop five innovative research-based industries it defined as core industries, National Chiao Tung University professor Lin Ying-dar said in an interview with Tzou Jiing-wen of the ‘Liberty Times’ (sister paper of the ‘Taipei Times’) that without change in methodology, any efforts would waste national resources in replicating technology for ancillary services, with limited capabilities to improve Taiwan’s international status in the global high-technology industry

National Chiao Tung University professor Lin Ying-dar speaks in an interview with the Liberty Times on March 18.

Photo: George Tsorng, Taipei Times

Liberty Times (LT): What mindset should the new government have to push through the plans for the five innovative research industries?

Lin Ying-dar (林盈達): Taiwan’s most globally competitive industry is the high-tech industry, but in the past few years, the scale has been slowly tipping toward China due to the establishment of its own supply chain.

With the new government due to assume responsibility on May 20, people are suggesting that the government should invest in biomedicine, “green” energy, the Internet of Things (IoT), 5G wireless systems, national defense research and development, and “smart” machinery. Some suggest that Taiwan should compete with the Chinese supply chain, while others say it should bow to Chinese investors and allow them to buy shares in Taiwanese companies.

From the scattered suggestions, it is seen that the incoming government does not have advisers capable of figuring out the best strategy and finding a way to come up with [policies for industrial development].

The question is: If the current methods persist in the promotion of new ideas, would the result be different from past failures? The first option is to use a new methodology to promote old industries. The option might yield the best results in a timely manner due to the familiarity of the market.

The second option is to employ a new methodology to promote new industries. This is somewhat less effective than the first option, as a market for new industries has yet to emerge and investors are unable to share in the profits.

However, the second option is still better than the third, which is to promote current industries using current methodology, which is, in turn, better than employing current methodology to research new industries.

If the incoming government cannot perceive this fact and seeks to promote the research and development of new industries using current methods and an antiquated governmental system, they would be picking the worst of the four options, and their efforts, while valiant, would be as brief as a fireworks show.

The areas of research and development are the battlefield, and the methodology is the weapons. Like the evolution of warfare, antiquated weaponry that is ineffective must be abandoned or improved, with new items tested against older weapons before they can achieve a measure of success on the battlefield.

The history of Taiwan’s high-tech industry is not without its successes and failures, especially in the information and communication industry.

If we were to list the industries from the most successful to the least successful, it would look something like this: semiconductor manufacturing and design; key components manufacturing; computers — including personal computers, laptops, tablets and smartphones; the Internet communication industry; the four “miserable industries” — the LCD panel industry, solar energy, DRAM and the light-emitting diode (LED) industry; software; biotechnology and digital content.

The first four have experienced more successes than failures, while the latter four had more failures than successes. Past governments had, of course, their plans and reasons for promoting the industries, and many of the plans were derived from repeated analyses of successful and unsuccessful efforts.

Through the efforts, it was not hard to arrive at successful or unsuccessful methods, as well as the reasons behind them, and whether to improve on the methods or to discard them for new ones.

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