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Tech matchmakers: Local orgs link startups with foreign investors

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Taiwan's burgeoning startup scene has been attracting ever more international attention, drawing foreign governments and investors seeking the next big unicorn to the island. With an explosion of networking events and tie-ups, The China Post takes a look at some of the people matching investors with homegrown ideators — the connectors making things happen.

Joseph Liao, president of Jonnesway Enterprise and organizer of the French-Taiwan exchange activity in Taipei Wednesday, said the event was the first matchmaking session he had held between French and Taiwanese startups and incubators.

"We hope local teams can find ways to scale globally and achieve world-class depth and breadth," Liao said. "Another reason we chose France is because we wanted to learn from them how government policies are supporting French startups and to find investors that may be interested in funding or partnering up with Taiwanese startups."

Liao said he planned to organize more similar events to connect Taiwanese teams with officials and investors from Estonia, Russia and the U.S., among other countries.

Also, with the recent election of France's tech startup movement champion Emmanuel Macron as French president, it is widely expected that the local startup community will be seeing a greater degree of involvement from France in the foreseeable future.

"Macron's confidence and support for startups is also another reason our first exchange event is with France," organizers said.

France has been increasingly active in Taiwan's startup ecosystem of late, highlighted by the French government including Taiwan as one of the 22 global hubs for its French Tech initiative last year — the program matches investors, mentors and incubators with startup teams.

Spotting the 'purple cow'

"Our organization's mission is to find the purple cow among the herd of black and white — truly outstanding companies that stand out — then provide them with guidance and resources to help them flourish," said Karen Chen, a speaker representing the nonprofit Taiwan Techmakers Association.

The association is among the best-known groups pushing for a more vibrant and lively entrepreneurial environment in the country, holding cross-industry workshops and talent development programs in Taiwan and overseas.

Peter Lee, founder and CEO of yet-to-launch household food organizing platform FoodBear, presented a demo of his business idea during the event.

"We want to break the vicious cycle of buying more food than we need and having to throw unwanted food away, causing immense food waste" Lee said.

"Our app keeps check of the stock in your house, offers you customized shopping lists and recipes, and provides charity information so your excess ingredients could be given to food banks and people in need."

FoodBear, founded by a group Taiwanese and French finance and tech experts, is currently working to establish partnerships with major grocery chains and seeking investors.

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