Taiwan a good 'testbed' for startups: French expert

2018/03/31 20:13:08 fontsize-small fontsize-default fontsize-big
Laurent Le Guyader (right)

Laurent Le Guyader (right)

Taipei, March 31 (CNA) Taiwan serves as a good "testbed" for startup companies, with its strong electronics industry, global manufacturing networks, Western business environment and effective protection of intellectual property rights, according to a French government expert on innovation.

In an interview with CNA on Friday, Laurent Le Guyader, coordinator of French Tech Taiwan, said French startups can benefit from doing business in Taiwan, which he touted as one of the most vibrant startup hubs in Asia.

French Tech Taiwan, launched in 2016, is one of the 22 French Tech Hubs around the world accredited by the French government. The hubs comprise tech entrepreneurs, incubators, accelerators and investors, who are seeking to facilitate the international growth of French startups and help entrepreneurs from other countries launch startups in France or find French partners.

On the question of Taiwan's main appeal to French startups, Le Guyader said Taiwan has a well-established electronics industry, which means it has strong prototyping capabilities, and is also home to many manufacturers such as Delta Electronics Inc. that are multinational companies with worldwide networks.

"They have the clients and they know the needs of the clients," he said, adding that French startups would benefit from teaming up with such Taiwanese companies.

In addition, with Taiwan's focus on developing the Internet of Things, green energy, biotechnology, smart machinery and national defense, there is a need for new applications and therefore many opportunities for startups, he said.

Le Guyader also mentioned incentives such as the Taiwan Entrepreneur Visa and other government initiatives to attract foreign entrepreneurs.

Another advantage Taiwan has as a startup base is the security of intellectual property compared with countries like China, Le Guyader said. It is also easy to do business with Taiwanese, who are quite straightforward, he said.

One of the difficulties, however, is convincing Taiwanese entrepreneurs to look to Europe, despite the good resources and research and development there, since they are more used to the United States or Japan, Le Guyader said.

Since French Tech Taiwan was launched in 2016, it has helped send more than 20 Taiwanese startups to France and has assisted them in areas such as finding resources, raising funds, assessing markets and hiring staff, he said.

The Young Enterprise Initiative, launched by France's Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs, also sponsored visits to France by three Taiwanese startups last year for a week of training, mentoring and networking events, and will sponsor six more this year, Le Guyader said.

In 2016, Taiwanese carmaker Gaius automotive was among the startups accepted under a new entrepreneur visa program called the French Tech Ticket, which was launched by the French government, he said.

Through that initiative, Gaius was able to set up an office in France and to work with a French automaker on electric vehicles and charging systems, Le Guyader said.

This year, Taiwan's Show Chwan Memorial Hospital will establish a joint venture with French firm DIABNEXT to expand their R&D in Taiwan and France, he said, suggesting that the field of smart medical devices has potential for expanded cooperation between Taiwan and France.

DIABNEXT uses artificial intelligence to provide automated self-management solutions for people suffering from diabetes.

(By Christie Chen)
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