The Hong Kong government is determined to develop innovation and technology in the city, but its efforts are hampered by such issues as small market size and brain drain. Could we draw lessons from how Taiwan tackles such issues?
Following the rise of the new economy, Taipei is now focusing on startups to rev up its economic engine, Lin Chung-chieh, commissioner of the Department of Economic Development of the Taipei city government, told the Hong Kong Economic Journal in an interview.
And it is only by providing opportunities and possibilities can a city attract and retain talent, Lin said.
He said the local government strives to make the city open, free and the most suitable for entrepreneurs.
Since 2015, Taipei has listed startup development as one of its major programs. It has rolled out a number of schemes to help tech entrepreneurs. This includes subsidies for promising startups. From January 2015 to August 2017, for example, it approved funding for projects amounting to NT$719 million (US$23.97 million).
Since there is no restriction on the nationality of applicants, a number of Hong Kong-based companies have applied for funding under this program.
At least one Hong Kong firm applied in 2013, 2015 and 2016. And this year, at least three companies with Hong Kong background applied.
Like in Hong Kong, the Taipei city government is taking the lead in using products developed by the startups. Last year, it assisted a startup called Shadoworks Studios in promoting its virtual reality (VR) teaching software Surreal Education in six high schools in Taipei. The startup ended up receiving a funding of NT$10 million.
Taipei also forms partnerships with cities in other countries such as Fukuoka in Japan and Selangor in Malaysia. This enables Taipei-based startups to obtain assistance in, say, locating an office, forming a business network, or gaining business information in those cities.
Tech giants from mainland China also vie for enlisting talents from neighboring countries. Lin said the Taiwan market is not huge, so the government encourages startups to venture into other places to seek out opportunities.
Lin is confident that Taiwan, being an open society, will continue to attract talent.
Those involved in innovation and technology need an open environment, he said, and this is why he is not worried about brain drain.
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Nov. 27
Translation by Jonathan Chong
[Chinese version 中文版]
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