[WIT Asia series] The first stop on our World Innovation tour was Taipei, a 16 hour direct flight from New York. Given the ease of access and somewhat westernized culture that exists, it’s perhaps unsurprising that Taiwan is renowned as a route into mainland China for US companies. Give the recognition as a state by Trump and frosty relations between US & China, Taiwan becomes even more appealing to US companies considering the move the Asia.
Five visits on our first day, afforded us the chance to see a lot of this fantastic city. One of the first observations that became abundantly clear was how people get around in the city, and you can’t ignore is the number of scooters on the streets. At traffic lights, anywhere from 50-100 scooters are ready to take off as soon as the lights go green! This made one of our first visits of the trip very interesting.
We visited was the Smart city scooter solution Gogoro. This is an electric scooter which competes with the traditional scooters in terms of price and performance without any of the emissions. They run on batteries, which can be exchanged and recharged at multiple stations around the city, a bit like the public bike systems you see in many modern cities such as New York. Despite being relatively new to the market, Gogoro have already secured a trial in Berlin with the city government and are speaking to other cities around the world as destinations to roll out their solution.
Having travelled to many cities in recent years, one thing we have learned is that more times than not, a city’s future can be defined by it’s past. New York’s finance industry gave birth to FinTech, Detroit, the powerhouse of transport is now reinventing itself as a urban mobility and new manufacturing hub as we wrote about here. Taipei has always had a strong ICT sector. The major ICT firms in Taipei have recognized the disruption in the space and are using their expertise in prototyping and scaling production to help startups both domestically and internationally.
Wistron and Nexcom, are two examples whose startup programs can work with companies who want to produce as little as hundreds of units, quite amazing given the scale of these. The state is doing everything it can to support this sector also. TRIPLE is a prototyping service who help startups from all over the world produce a prototype and scale production in Taiwan. If you are interested in any of these programs, reach out and we can connect you!
“China can be overwhelming, Taiwan feels like a university, it has everything you need in one place” is a sentiment we heard repeated throughout our few days in Taipei and it’s true. All the major corporations are there, you can get prototypes built easily, the government (or faculty) are keen supporters of the ecosystem. It’s even easy to navigate using the subway system or bus, everything is within touching distance, a great place to launch and test the market for US companies. Our local partners TUSA who build links between Taiwan and the USA treated us to a traditional Taiwanese welcome dinner with investors and state officials. Taiwan is famous for it’s food and our 12 course meal complete with traditional entertainment and dancing provided a truly memorable experience! We’re looking forward to our next trip.