How is Taiwan’s rapidly growing startup ecosystem evolving with the full support of the government? Venture capital fund, accelerators, angel investors, and media attended Meet Taipei 2019, which was held from 14-16 Nov at the Taipei Expo Dome in Taiwan for the latest developments and updates of Taiwan startup ecosystem.
“There are numerous renowned entrepreneurs who are not Taiwanese but starting their business here, like Dr. Morris Chang, the former CEO of Taiwan semi-conductor manufacturing company. This proved Taiwan is an excellent place for having commerce with the world”, said by Founder of Business Next Mr. Ho Fei-Peng at the opening remark.
James Heng, CIO of BusinessNext, further elaborate the background to the start-up in Taiwan. Since 2014, BusinessNext has been hosting the annual Meat Taipei Show, they have observed the evolvement of the Taiwan’s startup ecosystem closely. “The Taiwan startup ecosystem has grown rapidly since 2014,” said Heng CIO. He explains that in 2014, Taiwan launched a student social movement called the Sunflower Movement, and in line with this period, the government began implementing policies to support innovation.
“There are two large government agencies that have played a big role in revitalizing Taiwanese startups,” said Heng, Taiwan’s Ministry of Science and Technology and the Taiwan Economy Ministry of Economic Affairs, which operates the Taiwan Tech Arena (TTA). “The percentage of young entrepreneurs is also increasing compared to the past,” he said, adding, “The TTA in particular has many programs that support university start-ups, which contribute to young entrepreneurship.” “In the past, many parents wanted their children to find jobs at well-known companies like TSMC, but now they are also generous about getting start-up jobs,” he said.
Alissa Chiu, CEO of Anchor Venture Partners, said, “Most of Taiwan’s universities have incubator on campus, and it is a good place to start a business”. Anchor Ventures Partners is a venture capital investment in Angel investments and early startups.
Thanks to government support, startups looking to expand globally have also seen the light. Patty Nee, TSS manager of Taiwan Startup Stadium (TSS), explained, “Taiwan has a lot of high-skilled people, such as technical talent, but often goes abroad in search of a better environment.” TSS is a private company but is supported by the National Development Council (NDC), a government agency that helps Taiwanese startups expand and grow globally.
Although it is growing with the full support of the government, the Taiwan startup ecosystem is still in its infancy. Edward Childe, Managing Partner at MashVentures, said, “We don’t have a taiwanese startup that can be called a success yet, so we can’t say that the ecosystem is big.”
“It seems that we are now in a transition period where we are trying to find out what direction the ecosystem can benefit Taiwanese startups,” he said, “but it is positive about the future growth of the Taiwan market.” This is because there is a well-equipped infrastructure in Taiwan where small startups can grow. Mesh Ventures is a Taiwanese venture capital firm that mainly invests in the United States and Europe, participating in the Meat Taipei 2019 for one-on-one matching consultations with pre-registered startups for three days.
Another Taiwanese VC, Cheruvic Ventures Angela Liu, said, “We have not yet created a large startup ecosystem, but it is certain that it is growing.” Referring to the startup conferences hosted over the past few years, he said, “Three years ago, the startup conference didn’t take place on this scale,” and he said, “I can see that the start-up environment is growing, even if we see already have a number of companies participating this year.”