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ICT Development in Taiwan

ICT Development in Taiwan

This year governments are making their final assessment of the UN Millenium Development Goals (MDGs), which global leaders agreed upon in the year 2000. Over the past 15 years the ICT revolution has driven global development in an unprecedented way. Technological progress, infrastructure deployment, and falling prices have brought unexpected growth in ICT access and connectivity to billions of people around the world. According to International Telecommunication Union (ITU), in 2015 there are more than 7 billion mobile cellular subscriptions worldwide, up from less than 1 billion in 2000. Globally 3.2 billion people are using the Internet of which 2 billion are from developing countries. ICTs will play an even more significant role in the post 2015 development agenda and in achieving future sustainable development goals as the world moves faster and faster towards a digital society. In this edition of SPOTLIGHT, we highlight Taiwan’s contribution towards ensuring that everyone is connected at an affordable cost in the emerging information society.

Q: Did you know how science and technology developed in Taiwan?

A: Much of Taiwan’s achievement in science and technology (S&T) is attributable to the public sector’s support for applied scientific development. Taiwan’s first comprehensive set of Science and Technology (S&T) policies, the Guidelines for the Long-range Development of Science, were formulated in 1959. The same year saw the establishment of the Cabinet-level National Science Council (NSC), mandated to play a leading role in planning and promoting S&T development. Since the late 1960s, a number of publicly supported research and development (R&D) institutions have been established under the NSC, the Department of Industrial Technology (DoIT) of the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA), and the Cabinet-level Atomic Energy Council (AEC). And beginning in 1980, numerous highly productive science parks have been established under NSC supervision. The 1990s saw the launch of series of national science and technology programs (NSTPs) to address developmental needs ranging from telecommunications to disaster prevention.

Q: Did you know the role of Science Parks in Taiwan’s ICT and scientific breakthroughs?

A: Taiwan’s science parks are designed and administered to provide ideal conditions for high-tech business operations. The parks also provide excellent environments for developing powerful synergy among clusters of related enterprises, some in nearby industrial parks, and public R&D institutions. Taiwan ranks first in the “state of cluster development” index of the World Economic Forum’s Global Competiveness Report 2013-2014.

As of the end of 2013, a total of 850 companies had taken up residence in the parks. Their combined revenues of about NT$2.19 trillion (US$73.56 billion) amounted to around 15 percent of Taiwan’s GDP in 2013.

Taiwan has 13 science parks, organized into three core park groups: the Hsinchu Science Park , Central Taiwan Science Park and Southern Taiwan Science Park . Several of these parks are in the startup or development stage, such as the Yilan Science Park and Hsinchu Biomedical Science Park, and expansion is underway at a number of other parks.

Q: Did you know that the private sector also played a major role in fostering Taiwan’s S&T?

A:Firms such as Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co., Ltd. and United Microelectronics Corp. pioneered and have continued to dominate the global market for custom-designed integrated circuit (IC) chips and a vast variety of other products. Further, ever since the 1990s, Taiwanese manufacturers have produced many of the world’s personal computers and hold large shares of the global market for other consumer electronics products. They are also major suppliers of high-end components used in the manufacture of the products of internationally famous companies such as Apple, Microsoft, Intel, HP and Sony. Among the most important of such components are IC chips and flat-panel displays, of which Taiwan has long been the world’s No. 1 or No. 2 producer. Today, both the public and private sectors continue to promote technological and scientific advancement.

Q: Did you know the role technology transfer played in Taiwan’s ICT?

A: Technology transfer from Japan after the 1997Asian Financial Crisis and the growing significance of Taiwan- based firms in the production of LCD monitors and notebook computers provided ammunition to the burgeoning development of the LCD industry in Taiwan. A few other science parks (Southern Taiwan Science Park and Central Taiwan Science Park) established to accommodate a growing number of industrial players in the related sub-sectors.

Q:Did you know the role of Taiwan’s Ministry of Science and Technology and Institute for Information Industry (III)?

A: The former National Science Council was upgraded to become the Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST) in March 2014 to spur greater momentum for innovation. The MOST’s primary responsibilities are drawing up long-range national S&T development policies, reviewing S&T budgets and supervising the operations of science parks. It also oversees the National Science and Technology Center for Disaster Reduction and R&D activities of the National Applied Research Laboratories (NARLabs).

On its part, since 1979, the III has been a key contributor of technology to Taiwan’s information and communications technology (ICT) industry while performing a number of important roles, including serving as a think tank on ICT policy, providing innovative R&D and interoperability standards for the ICT industry, promoting ICT applications and bridging the digital divide. The III also fosters cooperation across disciplines, between academia and industry, and with other countries, while striving for balanced development of culture and technology. Moreover, the institute has provided a variety of training courses for over 410,000 information and technology professionals in the past 30 years.

With around 1,500 employees (76 percent of whom have a master’s degree or higher), the III also conducts technological research on smart green services, smart media, smart business, analytics, cloud system software, digital convergence, mobile communication and cyber security, among other areas. In 2013, it became one of the winners of the prestigious U.S.-based R&D Magazine’s R&D 100 Awards for the third consecutive year.

Q:Did you know Taiwan’s latest endeavors in ICT?

A:With forward-looking policies and a dynamic and enterprising private sector, Taiwan has become the world’s largest manufacturer of a wide range of information technology products. It has also been bolstering development in a few specific fields, as described below.

Cloud Computing: In October 2010, the Cloud Computing Association in Taiwan (CCAT)  was launched by some 100 top ICT companies with the participation of the Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI) and III. The consortium aims to make Taiwan a major exporter of cloud computing services by consolidating the resources of hardware and software producers.  As part of its Taiwan Valley  project, the CCAT unveiled an exhibition center in March 2012 to feature over 30 exceptional cloud products developed by Taiwan. The CCAT has also implemented a program since April 2013 to accelerate the transformation of enterprises through cloud applications, benefiting 10 startups as of the end of that year. From 2014 onward, the CCAT will facilitate the establishment of cloud valleys around Taiwan to drive the island’s innovation in this technology.  The MOEA’s Cloud Open Lab was established in September 2012 as a platform to test cloud computing applications, equipment and systems. The results of this work have been used to develop government cloud-building programs, expediting collaboration between the public sector and private-sector product developers. For instance, the Ministry of the Interior has collaborated with the lab to test the quality and service efficiency of its Taiwan Geospatial One-Stop (TGOS) Cloud, which went online in January 2014. As of September 2013, 69 enterprises had tested 133 cloud computing services and products on the MOEA’s platform. In a drive to extend services to private enterprises as well, the lab joined the CCAT’s efforts in October 2013 to cultivate outstanding cloud-computing companies and talents by sharing its resources.  The III, meanwhile, has launched the Cloud Appliance for Enterprises, a cost- and energy-efficient platform used by Taiwan’s ICT hardware and software vendors to develop cloud-based products and solutions. And the ITRI Cloud Operating System can significantly reduce system implementation and integration time, difficulty and cost for large cloud data centers; it saves domestic cloud-computing infrastructure service providers about half the cost they would otherwise spend by purchasing systems from foreign vendors.  The public and private sectors’ efforts to promote cloud computing technology are paying dividends, with the number of related patent applications multiplying between 2010 and 2013.

Networked Communications: Thanks to the Networked Communications Program  completed in December 2013, the production value of Taiwan-made communications equipment and components reached NT$1.1 trillion (about US$37 billion) in 2013, with 10 Taiwanese networking products ranked No. 1 in global market share.  Taiwan ranked 14th among the 148 economies assessed on the Networked Readiness Index of the Global Information Technology Report 2014 released by the World Economic Forum. Taiwan was peerless in mobile network coverage as well as Internet and telephony competition.

By the end of 2013, Taiwan had 6.74 million wired broadband subscribers, including 2.89 million optical fiber subscribers. Its optical fiber penetration rate of 43 percent ranks sixth in the world. The country released fourth-generation mobile Internet service licenses to telecommunications operators in October 2013, with services launched in May 2014. Meanwhile, plans are afoot to gain a head start in fifth-generation mobile Internet technology.

Q: Did you know the trending options adopted by Taiwan’s ICT manufacturing firms?

A:Taiwanese ICT firms are generally and deeply involved in Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) contacts for brand marketers; thus, individual firms specialize in a specific industrial and technological segment and may tend to focus their R&D efforts on incremental technological change in relation to a specific technological trajectory, leading to the rapid proliferation of patents. Taiwan’s ICT firms tend to pursue technological innovation on the pathway led by the architectural design created by leading brand marketers and/or industrial standard setters. As a result, the more their production volume expands the more royalties they pay to the brand marketers and/or industrial standard setters.

Q: Did you know the predictable future of ICT in Taiwan?

A: Taiwan enjoys the honour of having the world’s first wireless city and being the world’s largest ICT products manufacturer. Recently, Taiwan has taken their efforts to a whole new level. After having successfully completing its 2007 Broadband Access to Every Village project, the country’s National Communications Commission (NCC) aims to extend the construction of the broadband network infrastructure to further remote areas as part of their plan to bringing ICT to everyone in Taiwan. These villages either had absolutely no Internet service or had only low-speed Internet connections. The NCC has appointed three companies to offer universal data services for broadband access to 50 mountain villages in 12 different counties. According to NCC, Taiwan will be the first nation in the world where broadband service coverage reaches 100 percent of its territory. In addition to making ICT accessible, the Taiwan government has also been urged by county chiefs to offer more opportunities for residents from the remotest villages to learn how to use a computer. The digital divide will only be narrowed when both the factors of accessibility and skills have been sufficiently addressed. Taiwan has proven itself as a world pioneer in the ICT world. The advance of ICT seems inevitable and it is only a matter of time before the most remote parts of Taiwan are conquered by ICT.

Q:Did you know the part Research and Development (R&D) plays in Taiwan’s ICT?

A: Speed is just as crucial as innovation for companies and countries to thrive in our fast paced world. Even the best products today may become outdated and irrelevant in a few short years or sometimes months. In line with this philosophy, Taiwan evolved along with the changing demands of our world. Starting out as a small outsourced manufacturer for large ICT companies in the US, Taiwan is now a world leader in ICT innovation. In 2012, Taiwan’s R&D expenditure totaled NT$431.30 billion (US$14.57 billion), of which 24.8 percent came from governmental funding and 75.2 percent from private investment. In the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report 2013-2014, Taiwan is ranked No. 8 in government procurement of advanced high-tech products and No. 11 in company spending on R&D as well as university-industry collaboration in R&D among the 148 economies surveyed.

Q: Did you know the benefits of ICT to Taiwan?

A:In the last few years, due to the availability of more data and better analyses, there are new findings that finally seem to contribute to the understanding of the impact of ICTs on the society. The benefits of ICT to Taiwan are divided into 3 main categories as listed below.

Economic: Improvement of inventory management, better flow control, better integration between sales and production and, therefore, enhancing management of production; Energize the market due to shortening of product life cycles; Increase of foreign investment; Create new kind of jobs.

Political: Increase of reach of political messages; Allow the possibility to keep in touch with overseas citizen and give them their voting ability.

Social: Enable new forms of interaction between firms and other parties such as consumers, thanks to networking; Facilitate cost-effective public and private services; Increase transport efficiency.

Q: Did you know that Taiwan’s ICT Industry keeps flourishing through six global hot sellers according to Industrial Economics and Knowledge Center (IEK)?

A: Taiwan’s ICT industry, which is composed of a bumper crop of world-caliber manufacturers from the upstream to downstream to form a well-integrated supply chain, will benefit from the strength of globally hot-selling electronic devices, namely smartphones, tablet PCs, ultrabooks, smart TVs, e-book readers and cloud computing applications, through 2015.

In the global ICT market, Taiwan provides not only a lion’s share of the most advanced laptops, tablets, and smart phones but also in the computer peripherals. Taiwanese companies have continually invested in R&D and design for product innovation, with a conviction to build a wonderful life through advanced digital technology. In 2012, Acer and Asus were the fourth and fifth largest laptop makers of the world respectively; they are now also establishing themselves in the tablet market as increasingly Taiwan is emerging as a significant player in this industry due to its outstanding performance, genuine innovations and competitive pricing. They are currently enjoying more market share than all Japanese and Korean companies. Smart phones are yet another arena with many active Taiwanese contenders. The prevalence of mobile computing has changed the way the internet is used, and has created further growth in storage, networking and online media products. Taiwan excels in manufacturing these products and is the unsung hero of the global information exchange. A fairly large portion of the world’s USB flash drives, a convenient means of data transfer, is brought to the world by Taiwan and their innovative brands.

Q: Did you know that COMPUTEX Taiwan held each year showcases the latest trend in ICT and attracts world wide patronage?

A: The annual international ICT trade show, COMPUTEX TAIPEI will unfold in June 2016. This year, 1702 overseas and domestic vendors attended the Computex International fair in Taipeis World Trade Center. Overseas exhibitors account for approximately 30% of all exhibitors and hail predominantly from China, the United States, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, and the Netherlands. Following the explosions of wearables onto the tech scene in 2014, this year’s COMPUTEX was proud to present the Wearable Technology section. With the rising trend of large screen smartphones, portability and ease of operation have also emerged as important issues and an area for developing wearables. As mobile devices evolve from handheld to greater portability, wearability will continue to be an area of focus for the ICT industry. The Wearable Technology area comprised 34 individual exhibitors that include Gajah Technology, Brinno Inc., Chipsip, and GlobalSat, featuring products like smart glasses, watches, and apparel and electronic paper.

NOW YOU KNOW

As can be deduced, Taiwan is a country that is thoroughly modern and completely digitalized. There are numerous submarine cables which provide links throughout Asia, Australia, the Middle East, Europe and the US. There are also 2 satellite earth stations located in Taiwan. 

 

With a population of only 23 million, Taiwan’s well-educated, industrious people have carved out a huge niche in the global ICT industry. Many of Taiwan’s information and communications technology (ICT) companies are moving up the global supply chain by building their own brands. Taiwanese companies today account for about three-quarters of the world’s production of PCs and half of the world’s liquid-crystal displays (LCDs).

 

In addition, Taiwan makes about a quarter of the world’s semiconductors and about a fifth of the world’s mobile phones. The close proximity of electronics companies in Taiwan has led to the formation of industrial clusters that offer clear cost and time-to-market advantages, making Taiwan an excellent one-stop shop for procurement, design support and rapid commercialization of product ideas. Now, many of Taiwan’s biggest brands are tapping this same local manufacturing expertise to offer consumers innovative products and better value.

 

It is hoped that more and more Nigerians, Nigerian companies and even government Ministries, Departments and Agencies will tap into the various products, gadgets and software on offer to the benefit of ICT consciousness and digital development in Africa’s largest economy.