- Leading player in the global semiconductor industry
- Ranked 1st as the most innovative economies in the Asia Pacific Region by the World Economic Forum
- Top 20 of the best tech hubs in the world, outside of Silicon Valley and San Francisco by KPMG
- Ranked 15th globally in 2020 by the World Bank in the Ease of Doing Business
- Strong government policies to digitalize the country’s economy
- Various government programs to help startups grow and expand in the region
Taiwan at a glance
Population: 23.5 million
Languages: English, Mandarin Chinese, Taiwanese and other dialects
Average cost of living:
- Rent: US$500 onwards
- Living cost per month: US$ 800 onwards
Taiwan is a leading player in the global semiconductor industry and recognized as a manufacturing powerhouse in the area of OEM and ODM. The country is also a world leader in the consumer electronics and semiconductors segment which comes in handy, especially since the country is moving towards increased adoption of IoT, Big Data, AI and Industry 4.0.
Due to its history as a semiconductor and manufacturing powerhouse, Taiwan boast a strong labor force that is technically skilled, a low cost operation environment and talent well-versed in both hardware and software products.
In terms of connectivity, more than 87.9% of its citizens have Internet connectivity with 92% of the population owning mobile phones. This makes Taiwan ripe for pilot projects for any startups keen on testing their products on a consumer base interested in trying new innovations.
Taiwan is also actively seeking to be a leading innovation hub in Asia by attracting regional AI startups to establish new engineering and R&D teams, coupled with the country’s increased focus on venture capital investment and sectoral reforms to help further encourage innovation.
Given Taiwan’s strengths in manufacturing and the semiconductor industry, it is no surprise that the country focuses heavily on startups in the following sectors:
- Smart Tech
The government of Taiwan is making considerable efforts in shaping up the startup ecosystem of the country by executing policies that harness innovation and startups. This includes setting up policies favorable for startups and providing the tools to allow the ecosystem to strive.
In December 2019, Taiwan’s National Development Fund (country’s sovereign wealth fund) announced a set of investments of at least US$180 million on private equity deals and big-league acquisitions in the startup space.
The government has also launched several programs such as the following
- Taiwan Tech Arena – Innovation hub that provides various accelerator programs, meetups, mentorship and investor matching sessions through its network of contacts and venture capital firms.
- Taiwan Innovation and Technology Arena – flagship project supported by Taiwan’s Ministry of Science and Technology that invites global talents to create the next big thing with Taiwan’s startups and industries.This includes:
- Prototype Program – Startups or academic research teams can apply to this program to develop a prototype for their idea. However, ideas have to be focused on the industries of IoT, biotech and medical care, renewable energy technologies, smart mechanical technologies, and national defense and aeronautical technologies. Winning teams will receive subsidies of up to US$ 35,000.
- Accelerator – Inviting startups to work with partnering accelerators
- Soft Landing – Soft landing services for startups to get their feet off the ground, providing mentorship, workshops and office space.
More recently, Taiwan’s policymakers said that they will double down on their efforts to train 10,000 people every year to work in AI and technical R&D.
To deepen Taiwan’s connections with Southeast Asian countries, the Taiwanese administration has also formulated policies such as the New Southbound Policy (NSP) to promote collaborations in science and technology.
It has also established Science and Technology Innovation Centers (STICs) in with countries in the region such as Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore to encourage R&D collaboration and talent flows.
This includes organizations such as the Taiwan-Thailand Medical Tech, Science, and Humanities Development Center and Malaysia Digital Technology International Center.
Incubators and Accelerators
There are approximately 1800 startups with operations of less than 5 years in Taiwan, and a number of these companies have benefited from the incubators and accelerators in the country. Although it should be noted that an independent survey done in 2019 indicated that 70% of the startups had not participated in an acceleration program before.
Moreover given Taiwan’s focus on AI, Medtech and robotic solutions, it is no surprise that the country plays host to notable accelerator programs such as SparkLabs Taipei which focuses heavily in the AI and robotics solutions segment.
The National Health Research Institute (NHRI) is also accelerating healthcare innovation by working with startups and industry leaders. For instance, the genetic testing company, Taiwan Genome Industry Alliance, founded by the NHRI’s incubation center is cooperating with the NHRI to develop next-generation sequencing, animal cancer models and other clinical technologies.
More information on the incubation and accelerator programs in Taiwan can be found below:
In terms of venture capital, Taiwan’s venture capital market is not as mature as Japan, Hong Kong, and Singapore but its advanced electronics background makes it a hot spot for tech start-ups, especially in AI, IoT, and big data.
Between 2015 and the second quarter of 2020, there were 1,589 early-stage investment deals in Taiwan, totaling over USD 4.4 billion, according to the “2020 Taiwan Startup Investment Scene” report published by the Taiwan Institute of Economic Research.
Corporate venture capital firms were the largest investors, followed by local venture capital firms, and subsequently Taiwan’s own National Development Fund, and international venture capital firms.
Looking for more information about the Startup ecosystem in Taiwan? Do check out the other lists which we have compiled below
- Comprehensive List of Incubators in Taiwan
- Comprehensive List of Accelerators in Taiwan
- Comprehensive List of Venture Capital Firms in Taiwan
Last Updated: March 2021
Any that we have missed out on? Do let us know by dropping a line at firstname.lastname@example.org!