Taiwan, which is both pro-Japan and geographically near Japan, has built, according to the Global Entrepreneurship Index (GEDI), the second largest innovation ecosystem in Asia, second only to Hong Kong. In recent years, Taiwan has been strengthening deregulation of startup companies and attracting human resources from overseas.
For this event, Garage+, one of the leading acceleration program governing bodies in Taiwan, along with three other Taiwanese startup companies, shared their thoughts on Taiwan’s innovation ecosystem and the possibility of collaboration between Japanese and Taiwanese companies.
Outline of the Innovation Ecosystem in Taiwan
Josephine CHAO, Epoch Foundation (Garage+)
Like Japan, Taiwan is a player in the global supply chain. With its R&D capabilities, Taiwan ranks fourth in the World Economic Forum’s ranking for innovation.
Since about half of all entrepreneurs have master’s and doctoral degrees, there are many startup companies in the fields of technology and science, with a focus mainly on computing, healthcare, AI, IoT, and semiconductors. Also, more than 30% of business models are B2B.
The Epoch Foundation is a non-profit organization that facilitates industrial development and has focused on three areas: education, supporting venture companies, and collaboration. In the education field, EpochSchool is a program that provides education to college students that helps them become entrepreneurs. There are already more than 3,000 graduates around the world, and they have launched more than 60 startups.
In 2008, as a way to support ventures, we started a business incubator program called Garage+. This was selected by the Taiwanese government as the number one ranked incubator program. Taiwan is packed with incubator programs. There are many business incubators, coworking spaces, and government supported projects. Garage+ is opening the doors to international venture companies as well. We have received applications from about 1450 companies from around 70 countries over the last five years.
Finally, regarding collaboration, we are working with universities, including MIT, and companies in other countries.
Since Japan and Taiwan are close geographically and share similar cultures, we have been cooperating with each other for over 100 years. We are convinced that we could make an innovation cluster in Asia through cooperation between the two.
Taiwanese Startup Presentation on Working with Large Japanese Corporations
(Ideabus Technology Co., Ltd.)
Kalin CHEN, Ideabus Technology Co., Ltd.
Ideabus Technology was established in 2007 and consists mainly of engineers and designers. Its business markets are Taiwan, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, and Germany. In 2016, we received the German Innovation Award and the Taiwan Innovation Award.
In 2017, we created a rehabilitation device called LTPA (Leisure-Time Physical Active: for exercise in one’s free time and to activate the brain) in a joint effort with working physical therapists. There are currently more than 80 facilities in Taiwan, Hong Kong and Japan, with plans to expand into Singapore.
Our Japanese partner, Sai Co., Ltd., sells rehabilitation equipment and amusement devices. Initially, they wanted us to sell games for rehabilitation in Taiwan. On the other hand, Ideabus wanted the Sai corporation to become a distributor in Japan, so the goals of the two were brought together and the foundation for a business alliance was established. The Taiwanese market has a demand for IoT products, so we put some IoT functions on Sai’s products to sell them in Taiwan. Because consumers in Japan are wary of foreign products, we asked Sai to introduce us to a professor from the Graduate School of Health and Sciences of Gunma University, and we are conducting joint research on rehabilitation games such as LTPA.
Later, Sai also introduced us to a distributor in Japan. We have received an offer from Singapore saying they want to be our distributor, so we are planning to expand our business into Southeast Asia.
Taiwanese Startup Presentation over Japanese Online and Offline Collaboration
Mactaris CHEN, Maktar
Maktar has two popular products. The first one is called Piconizer, which can help solve the short battery life of both the iPhone and the iPad by simply being inserted into the device. In a short period of time, this item was able to receive about 300 million Yen through crowdfunding. The other product is called Qubii, which can be backed up automatically while it is charging. This is a popular product that has sold more than 2,000,000 units in Taiwan, Japan, and Hong Kong.
In Taiwan, all of our items are MFi licensed by Apple, so they are not only available online but also at Apple stores and convenience stores.
Our Entry into the Japanese market began with ODM (Original Design Manufacturing). Based on the successful experience in Taiwan, the development of B2C started with Japanese crowdfunding. Looking ahead, in addition to ODM, we plan to sell directly to users online and at retail stores. In the future, the online business will be done in-house, and all retail store management will be done through our distributor. We are also looking for partners in marketing, services, and software in order to expand our sales in the Japanese market.
Japanese Startup Presentation on Business Practices in Taiwan
UCHIDA Miki, Uprithm
Our business is focused on SMEs in Japan and solving the labor shortage in startups. The beginning of our business was the idea of building a bridge between Japanese companies and unemployed engineers living outside of Japan. We are supporting SMEs to reinforce human resources and enhance productivity while expanding their business overseas. As a business model, we are thinking of connecting two countries, India and Taiwan, to Japanese SMEs.
The environment in the Taiwanese market is entrepreneurial and the people are open-minded, which makes it easier for Japanese startups to do business. Taiwan is said to be the closest foreign country to Japan both geographically and culturally. And since the country is also a gateway to Southeast Asia, there is no reason for a Japanese entrepreneur not to choose it as a business destination. It can be said that establishing an overseas business in Taiwan first and then expanding into other markets is strategic.
Uprithm will continue to work to support more companies. If you are suffering from a shortage of human resources, please feel free to contact us.