Qatar Today - - COVER STORY -

T he first of Tai­wan's three gov­ern­ment-owned and -man­aged tech parks opened three decades ago and it has added one ev­ery ten years since then, “ev­ery time we ran out of space,” as An­drea Hsu, Di­rec­tor of In­vest­ment Ser­vices Di­vi­sion at the South­ern Tai­wan Sci­ence Parks Bureau, puts it. The North­ern, Cen­tral and South­ern Tai­wan Sci­ence Parks Bu­reaus all func­tion un­der the aus­pices of the Min­istry of Sci­ence and Tech­nol­ogy and, unique among the STPs we have spo­ken to, in­volve the high­est lev­els of gov­ern­ment in­volve­ment. “All of us who work for the bureau are gov­ern­ment of­fi­cers,” says Chun-Wei Chen, the Di­rec­tor- Gen­eral of the STSPB, who also be­lieves that they won't have the free rein on re­sources that they cur­rently do oth­er­wise. Also in­ter­est­ing is that th­ese STPs are not fi­nanced by tax payer's money but rather by pri­vate bor­row­ing through gov­ern­ment credit. “Tai­wan is not a big coun­try; it's the size of Switzer­land. So the gov­ern­ment's role in al­lo­cat­ing re­sources fairly and ef­fi­ciently to all com­pa­nies is key for the suc­cess of our STPs,” Hsu says. Chen also says he has heard a lot of talk at the con­fer­ence in Doha about com­bin­ing man­u­fac­tur­ing and R&D in STPs. “We did it 30 years ago!” he says, talk­ing about their op­er­a­tion mod-

el which has earned Tai­wan its place among the top five ma­chin­ery ex­port­ing coun­tries in the world. “When man­u­fac­tur­ers earn money, it is in­vested back into R&D and thus sus­tains it­self with­out just de­pend­ing on gov­ern­ment funds.” It all be­gan back in the day with the ubiq­ui­tous semi­con­duc­tor. “The first STP wanted to recre­ate the Sil­i­con Val­ley ex­pe­ri­ence in Tai­wan and hence was es­tab­lished near two of the big­gest univer­si­ties in the coun­try. It was also in close prox­im­ity to ITRI, the In­dus­trial Tech­nol­ogy Re­search In­sti­tute. The pri­mary sec­tors when we started off were semi­con­duc­tors and elec­tronic com­po­nents and they still make up 90% of our an­nual sales,” says Hsu. In south­ern Tai­wan, with two large in­dus­try clus­ters around in­te­grated cir­cuits and opto-elec­tron­ics, the an­nual rev­enue is in the league of $20 bil­lion (QR73 bil­lion) and in­volve the com­bined ef­forts of more than 80,000 peo­ple who work with the 360 com­pa­nies there.

Such is their two-fold strat­egy, ac­cord­ing to Hsu. “In the past the ac­cent was on at­tract­ing for­eign com­pa­nies to build man­u­fac­tur­ing ca­pa­bil­ity and boost de­vel­op­ment. But now we are also spon­sor­ing com­pa­nies to cre­ate en­ter­prises in the STP through our in­cu­ba­tion and in­no­va­tion cen­tres.” This is ev­i­dent from the fact that less than 15% of the com­pa­nies based out of the south­ern STP are for­eign-based.

Di­rec­tor- Gen­eral of the Cen­tral Tai­wan Sci­ence Park Wayne Wang, who heads the STP that houses sev­eral high-tech in­dus­tries like ICT, ma­chin­ery and biotech, says that Tai­wan's big plus points are its strong reg­u­la­tion and le­gal en­vi­ron­ment and large hu­man re­source pool, most of whom are univer­sity-ed­u­cated, and the na­tional fo­cus on R&D. Three per­cent of the coun­try's GDP is in­vested into R&D and the im­por­tance of get­ting re­turns is high­lighted at ev­ery stage, right from the univer­sity level where pro­fes­sors ask their charges to think long and hard about how their re­search can con­trib­ute to the larger pic­ture. In this tech park, more than 30% of the 120 com­pa­nies are MNCs, mostly from Ja­pan, Hong Kong, US and Ger­many. “We are con­stantly learn­ing from their ex­pe­ri­ence and in­no­va­tion and this has re­sulted in a lo­cal sup­ply chain giv­ing plenty of lo­cal com­pa­nies an op­por­tu­nity to im­prove their ca­pa­bil­ity,” he says. While the STPs keep a close eye on sev­eral KPIs like an­nual rev­enue, num­ber of per­son­nel, tal­ent cul­ti­va­tion, num­ber of new com­pa­nies and their in­vest­ment in R&D, they also know they have a big role to play out­side in ad­vis­ing other sec­tors of gov­ern­ment that can af­fect some of the ex­ter­nal fac­tors that in­flu­ence their func­tion­ing. “For ex­am­ple, early-stage tech re­search is very im­por­tant. Univer­si­ties here do a lot of re­search but they need to think about how to trans­form it into a tech­nol­ogy and then a new in­dus­try,” says Wang. The gov­ern­ment en­cour­ages this by gen­er­ously fi­nanc­ing univer­sity re­search grants and al­low­ing them to own their work


CHUN-WEI CHEN (Cen­tre) Di­rec­tor-Gen­eral South­ern Tai­wan Sci­ence Park bureau with

WAYNE WANG Di­rec­tor-Gen­eral Cen­tral Tai­wan Sci­ence Park, and

AN­DREA HSU Di­rec­tor of In­vest­ment Ser­vices Di­vi­sion South­ern Tai­wan Sci­ence Parks Bureau

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