Thu, Sep 05, 2019 - Page 4 News List

New Southbound Policy: Using science to forge connections

RESEARCH CENTERS:Chen Liang-gee said that helping others solve problems and understanding mutual needs are essential in promoting international cooperation

By Lin Chia-nan  /  Staff reporter

Minister of Science and Technology Chen Liang-gee, front row fifth from left, touts the achievements of 12 overseas research centers in nine countries covered by the New Southbound Policy initiative at a news conference in Taipei last month.

Photo: Lin Chia-nan, Taipei Times

Interpersonal connections and mutual understanding are key to building long-term friendships with scientific collaborators, Minister of Science and Technology Chen Liang-gee (陳良基) said as he highlighted the achievements of 12 research centers in South and Southeast Asia involved in artificial intelligence (AI), healthcare, biotechnology, engineering and the humanities.

The centers have been established over the past two years in India, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, the Philippines and Myanmar — some of the 18 nations targeted by Taiwan’s New Southbound Policy.

While the ministry has established three of its 17 overseas technology divisions in Asia and Oceania — in India, Australia and Vietnam — academics funded by the ministry can act as vanguards in other nations to explore new territories or deepen existing ties, Chen said.

Understanding mutual needs and helping others solve problems are essential for promoting international cooperation, he said.

For example, engineers from National Cheng Kung University (NCKU) “hit” the needs of their Philippine collaborators by helping advance their water quality monitoring and improvement techniques, the minister said.

With the ministry’s support, NCKU in May last year established the Taiwan-Philippines Joint Water Quality Research and Innovation Center alongside the Philippines’ Mapua University, and put experts from state-run Taiwan Water Corp and other environmental consultancies in touch with their Philippine counterparts.

The ministry also provided funding for National Chung Cheng University (NCCU) to establish the Taiwan-India Joint Research Center on Artificial Intelligence at the Indian Institute of Technology Ropar in July, when Deputy Minister of Science and Technology Hsu Yu-chin (許有進) was leading a delegation to India to expand collaborations with that nation.

India, with a population of 1.3 billion, and its economy are growing fast, so it is a good time for Taiwanese to boost cooperation with that nation, NCCU dean of research and development Jack Huang (黃士銘) said.

Given Taiwan’s capabilities in manufacturing and customized hardware design and India’s edge in software and computer program development, the collaboration is expected to make world-class breakthroughs in AI-related areas, Huang said.

As many Taiwanese businesses have difficulty finding proper access to the Indian market, the AI center could serve as a beachhead to facilitate Taiwanese access to that nation, he said.

The center also hires Indian personnel, he added.

Given Taiwan’s highly acclaimed healthcare system, the ministry sponsored Taichung-based China Medical University’s (CMU) establishment of the Taiwan-Singapore Aging and Cancer Overseas Science and Technology Innovation Center in the city-state.

The quality of Taiwan’s healthcare system — including healthcare infrastructure, the expertise of its healthcare professionals, the cost and availability of quality medicines — was ranked the best out of 89 nations surveyed by the latest Health Care Index compiled by CEOWORLD Magazine, an online business magazine and news site.

Fourteen Taiwanese institutions were included in a 2012 survey of the world’s top 200 hospitals, ranking just below the US and Germany, CMU Office of Global Affairs dean Yang Liang-yo (楊良友) said.

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