Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) yesterday gave the green light to the Pilot Industries Research, Development and Upgrade Program, which aims to transform the nation into a high-tech research and development center through collaboration between local and foreign companies, many of which are pulling out of China amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The program was formulated in the wake of a US-China trade dispute and seeks to capitalize on the exodus of companies from China, just as Washington and Tokyo have pledged capital to subsidize firms moving their operations from China to the US and Japan, Ministry of Economic Affairs Department of Industrial Technology Director-General Lo Ta-sheng (羅達生) said.
To join the program, an international company must submit a proposal that aims to nurture aspiring local firms; help them assume a leading role in the global market; create strategic products, services or operating models; facilitate cross-domain integration; or establish industrial supply chains or clusters, Lo said.
Precedence would be given to projects concerned with the research and development, and innovations in the fields of artificial intelligence, 5G and next-generation semiconductors to help local companies better adapt to global trends in the high-tech industry, he said.
Applicants would be required to pay for at least half of the research and development costs, while the government would provide the rest of the required capital, he added.
Through the program, the government hopes to attract NT$40 billion (US$1.34 billion) in annual investment for the research and development of innovative technologies, cultivate 6,350 research and development professionals and set the stage for youth entrepreneurship, Lo said.
Local firms will hopefully form closer partnerships with international counterparts, helping domestic companies and talent become innovators, rather than followers and engineers, he said.
Taiwan has a robust environment for innovation, ranking third in the Asia-Pacific region in the International Institute for Management Development’s World Talent Ranking for last year and named the fourth-most innovative nation in World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report, Lo said.
It also commands a more than 50 percent market share as a provider of photovoltaic, and information and communications technology products, he said.
These strengths combined with a shifting global economy have presented an opportune time for the nation to transform itself into a center for high-tech research and development, he added.
China used to be the “world’s factory,” but the pandemic has exposed its incompetence and sparked an “irreversible” trend that has seen international firms accelerating their withdrawal from China, Su said.
Taiwan’s successful response and transparency in its fight against the pandemic, as well as efforts to ensure information security, are all built upon its democratic values, which have shown international companies that it is a reliable partner and provided them with confidence in the nation as an ideal destination to redirect their investment, he said.
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