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Taiwan skilled in design, but has trouble keeping talent: professor

TAIPEI -- Local students may manage to do well in prestigious design competitions like the Red Dot Award, but Taiwan's lack of competitiveness in innovation means those talented people tend to seek opportunities abroad, a design school head said Tuesday.

Chiang Wei-hwa, dean of the College of Design under National Taiwan University of Science and Technology (NTUST), made the comments at a presentation of Red Dot-awarded works in Taipei, where he criticized the nation's industrial climate for lacking the innovation and vision of up and coming Taiwanese design students.

Chiang pointed to the NTUST students who won six Red Dot awards in communication design and 10 Red Dots in design concept this year. One big winner in particular, he noted, was a mobile app called “Hear Me” for vision-impaired smartphone users, which was named Best of the Best at the German awards.

But compared to neighbors, like trade rival South Korea, Taiwan's industrial sectors “do not perform well in innovation and design,” he contended.

Tang Hsien-hui, an associate professor at NTUST's Department of Industrial and Commercial Design, said Taiwan lacks stages for local designers to show off their talent.

Moreover, “low wages and long work hours have frustrated many talented students, who would rather move overseas for work after graduation,” Tang said, forecasting there will be an increasing brain drain to China because pay there is relatively higher than in Taiwan.

He urged Taiwan's industrial sectors to increase their competitiveness and invest more resources in innovation to keep talent at home.

Meanwhile, Lin Yi-tsen, a graduate student in industrial and commercial design at NTUST, and Tsai Yi-hsuan, a master's student in digital content at National Chengchi University, explained the creativity and innovation they put into “Hear Me,” the award-winning app.

The app allows visually impaired users to easily record notes and mark key points by touch, and it can help record memos and diary entries or share recorded messages through social networking, Lin said.

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