The next ‘Wakanda’ of Asia

Taiwan Startup and Innovation Ecosystem

What does Marvel comics’ Wakanda and Taiwan have in common?One might say they are both hidden lands full of technology, resources and talent waiting to be discovered. As framed by AppWorks at the beginning of our safari, the Taiwan digital economy has great potential to be the next Wakanda of Asia. And this was the incredible journey we got ourselves into as we set off on Explorium HK’s 8th Tech Safari in Asia (to read more about our other Explorium Tech Safaris, click: Ecosystems at Scale & Supply chain in SZ).

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First day kick off meeting — Taiwan delegation team ready to go!
First day kick off meeting — Taiwan delegation team ready to go!
First day kick off meeting — Taiwan delegation team ready to go!

In collaboration with HKEBA (Hong Kong E-commerce Business Association), the purpose of this safari was to better understand the local startup and innovation ecosystem in Taiwan. Aside from the Explorium team, we brought along community members including Lane Crawford, Shopify, Fung Kids, Roots, Hang 10, Branded Lifestyle, FrancFranc, KPMG, Beyond Cars, Gold Joy Travel and Toys”R”Us.

We facilitated our version of ‘speed-dating’ to help startups meet and mingle with business delegates on the tour.

The safari included visits to leading startup accelerators like Appworks, Taiwan Startup Stadium, Taiwan Tech Arena, Taiwan Accelerator, and PwC Accelerator at Startup Terrace. What impressed us the most was the initiatives these companies are making to put Taipei on the forefront as the next innovation hub to look out for.

Over a period of 3 days, we were amazed at the maturity of AI, Blockchain, IoT startups making Taiwan a leader in the digital economy. We engaged with over 25+ startups, some below:

  1. AIVM — an AI fashion styling platform, using artificial intelligence to map digital clothing on to a digital models with high quality automatically (website launching soon)
  2. SkyRec — AI video camera in retail, able to monitor customer behavior in the retail environment and provide analysis
  3. GogoOut — Asia’s leading car rental revolution, geared to make renting easy and fast
  4. Engaged.ai — Turning data from social platform to useful information, with analysis using artificial intelligence
The crew from Fung Group — Explorium Hong Kong, Branded Lifestyle (Korea, Taiwan, Mainland China branches), Petit Bateau & Toys”R”Us

Through this experience, here are some of our learnings and why we think corporate innovators and investors should pay more attention to Taiwan for future investments and collaborations:

  1. It’s all AI, Cloud & Blockchain — With talent, geographical location, market size and culture needed to develop the AI and IoT industries here, Taiwan’s capital Taipei announced plans to become a “smart city” powered by blockchain technologies.
  2. Leading in Market opportunity — 88% of the Taiwanese population uses the internet, with 95% of them accessing the internet on their mobile devices. This technologically-advanced user base makes Taiwan a huge market opportunity for rising tech startups and companies.
  3. Bringing the work to where the talent is — On an average per year, Taiwan churns out 10,000 computer science engineers and 25,000 electrical engineers, making this country a gold mine of talent resource. It comes as no surprise that leading companies like Yahoo, IBM, Microsoft & Google have all opened large R&D centres in Taiwan.
  4. IP is where it’s at — Taiwan is focused on Hard Tech and Deep Tech, which are innovations that require extensive research and development. This leverages the local science and engineering talent base as well as aims at creating intellectual property which can be harnessed in the long term.

Overall, the Taiwan innovation ecosystem has a vibrant and supportive startup community, with key pioneer players willing to share their learning & insights.

Had a nice balance between visiting the private and government sectors in terms of innovation.

As a result of the safari, Explorium discovered suitable and unique startup companies with complementary technology to Fung Group’s industries. Explorium is currently facilitating the dialog with two business units to co-create solutions with these startups, aiming to run successful pilots and then scaling the business for those involved.

If you’re interested in exploring collaborations in Taiwan or want to find out about future safaris, send us an email at hello@explorium.hk. Are there other startup ecosystems we should be exploring? Let us know, we’d love to hear your thoughts!

Explorium Hong Kong

Written by

a Fung Group Initiative

Explorium Sandbox

Growth through collaboration — now and in the future.

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