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April 23, 2017

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Techies wanted for Taiwan's Silicon Valley

TAIPEI, The Straits Times/Asia News Network--Taiwan is stepping up efforts to attract budding tech talent from around the world, as it seeks to cast itself as a hub for tech startups.

From next month, a team of venture capitalists and government officials will be on the lookout for startups within Taiwan's shores and beyond to get them to set up shop in Taiwan's "Asian Silicon Valley" in northern Taoyuan City.

To sweeten the deal, the government is dangling a NT$10 billion carrot to co-invest in up to 100 firms, with the potential to expand their market reach over the next seven years.

The aim is to get companies to establish their research and development centres in Taoyuan, where they can nurture and groom more tech creators and, in time, build a thriving tech scene.

The government hopes that this will also spawn spinoffs to deepen Taiwan's tech capability in artificial intelligence, big data analytics, augmented reality and the internet of things (IOT), which involves connecting objects by allowing them to collect and share data.

The plan is to increase Taiwan's global IOT market share from 3.8 percent to 5 percent by 2025, with a production value of between NT$4.6 trillion and NT$9.5 trillion, according to the National Development Council.

The council's deputy minister, Kung Ming-hsin, said: "We already have the hardware and are building the infrastructure. What we need now is to create an ecosystem in which the best talent and expertise can impart their knowledge and skill sets to others."

Project "Asian Silicon Valley," which was approved by the Executive Yuan last month, is aimed at transforming Taiwan into a more innovative digital economy, he added.

The plan was a key plank in President Tsai Ing-wen's election platform to support Taiwan's industrial transformation and help domestic firms tweak their business models in an evolving global market.

It is also part of her "New Southbound Policy," as the government goes knocking on the doors of Southeast Asian countries, India, Australia and New Zealand to do business in a bid to make the island less dependent on China.

Kung said the evaluation team is eyeing startups and talent from not only the Silicon Valley in the U.S. but also the region. However, he concedes that Taiwan is facing stiff competition from other tech-savvy countries, such as Singapore, South Korea and Japan.

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