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Taiwan’s success takes teamwork

Aug 09, 2017
Credit : GMI Post


Like many of its prosperous neighbors, Taiwan has invested a lot into its schools, knowing very well that the foundation of a successful and sustainable society lies in its people and the quality of the education they receive.

While currently several of Taiwan’s top universities are public, the private sector has become more active in shaping Taiwan’s next generation. Only a few years old, CBTC Financial Management College in the southern city of Tainan is focused on preparing the country’s next generation for life after graduation.

One of the historical buildings at the National Cheng Kung University in Tainan

Believing that life skills plays an important part in education, the school, funded by banking giant China Trust Banking Corporation, uses its extensive network in the business world to instruct its students.

“Our professors are bank presidents, vice presidents in charge of insurance, security Taiwan’s success takes teamwork vice presidents and CFOs. The group’s many companies send executives down to speak to the students so that after they graduate, they know exactly what they need to do,” University Chairman Chi-Tai Feng said.

“We are not trying to build a great academic institution. We are trying to produce international financial experts,” added Feng, who pointed out that the school provides scholarships to less fortunate students.

In Kaohsiung, Taiwan’s second-largest city, another private institution is committed to raising the quality of education for its future doctors.

“We have thoroughly integrated our affiliated hospital so that all of the efforts are more economical and efficient. This has been a major focus since our 60th anniversary three years ago. Our midterm goals involve putting more emphasis on innovation and entrepreneurship from our faculty and students,” Kaohsiung Medical University President Dr. Ching- Kuan Liu said.

“Before, our university only emphasized its hospital services but were not involved in the economic development,” Liu added.

With this “pre-incubator” approach to education, KMU allows new ideas to flourish as it also provides business-related classes that may encourage its students to start their own company involving medicine or a related field. It also uses its close ties to local and national government to create an environment for growth not only within its campus but across Taiwan as well.

Exporting good health around the world

Life-changing discoveries in the fields of medical and biotechnology have put Taiwan in the spotlight the past few decades. With strong IP protection, transparent legal and financial systems, strong pursuits of innovation, as well as cost effective and efficient manpower, the region continues to flourish.

These factors have created an atmosphere that allows small and medium sized enterprises on the island to thrive, among them TaiwanJ Pharmaceuticals, which has a team of only 30 people.

TaiwanJ Pharmaceutical CEO Dr. Shih Ying-Chu is very proud of their impressive results from its clinical trials of its liver disease drugs. In operation only since 2011, the company has successfully completed two phases of trials and is on their third and fourth phases of testing, all in collaboration with American counterparts.

“We are a group of very honest scientists with a good reputation. We are looking for sustainable growth both in Taiwan and in the international community. We also welcome everyone to participate in our upcoming IPO. Check out our performance. The trials speak for themselves,” Shih also said.

Meanwhile, Charsire Biotechnology, based in the Southern Taiwan Science Park in Tainan, has developed organic solutions with botanical drugs. With clinical trials underway in various neurodegenerative areas, Charsire has raised funds for additional research through the sales and marketing of their skin care line.

“By selling these products, we not only financially support our research but we also gain valuable market data from our customers. This human experience helps us create better products,” said President Yi- Hung Weng.

“Charsire is quite special since we started with plant-based drug R&D. Our skincare products are both botanical and topical, which makes them very safe. The experience we gained from selling these products gave us the confidence to pursue clinical trials,” Weng added. 

Transforming Technology

Often called the “Island of Innovation,” Taiwan is home to some of the technology and electronic giants that have transformed our daily lives, such as Foxconn, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company, HTC and Acer.

This deeply ingrained spirit of innovation has since spread across Taiwan’s other industries and has made the country a vital link in the global supply chain.

A so-called old world industry, textile manufacturing in Taiwan still remains at the top of the global game because it continually adopts the latest machinery and technology.

With its development of functional fibers and yarns, the country has become a hub for textile manufacturing in the region.

An early adopter of industry 4.0, Everest Textile has transformed its facility into a truly smart factory. Nearly 30-years-old, Everest has been a driving force in Taiwan’s textile manufacturing with a profile that includes top apparel brands such as Nike, North Face and Columbia Sportswear

“Our focus has been on innovation for many years. We invest a lot of money in it. We always have new ideas, new products. This is our way. We are a learning organization. We are hungry to learn and to take action,” said Everest President Roger Yeh, who continues to push for more sustainable ways to run his business.

His efforts have paid off. By reducing electricity usage throughout his factory and using an all-natural cooling system, Everest has saved $2 million on energy expenses alone.

With a new operations plant in North Carolina, Yeh has not only added more value to his North American customer base, but he placates the current administration’s push for American-made products, while being able to fulfill the needs of the U.S. Department of Defense.

In central Taiwan, LinkWin Technology takes the textile industry in a different innovative direction. Through extensive carbon material research and development, LinkWin makes carbon fibers for various industries.

“Typicallly, artificial carbon fibers are used in aerospace applications, such as NASA, SpaceX and other special applications. Medical applications of our products are expanding and we look to collaborate with foreign countries and companies to further fund our research,” said LinkWin President Arthur Cheng.

While medical applications are LinkWin’s main focus at the moment, Cheng is open to working with other industries.

Aviation and Defense Keep Soaring

JYR Aviation, a member of the JY Group, is tasked with adding value to the conglomerate’s product line. Taking a small but essential part, JYR Aviation extensively tested its own screws with other industries before it found success in the aerospace industry.

“We are also seeing an increase in our machine parts orders. We have a great relationship with GE Aviation and that has really helped us connect with Asia and beyond,” General Manager Vincent Sun explained. JYR Aviation is GE Aviation’s only certified distributor in the Asia Pacific region.

And while industry leaders strive to cut costs without compromising on quality, JYR Aviation fills a gap in the supply chain. “We are very new to aerospace, yet we have many experienced and talented engineers. Because of this we have our own way of thinking and are able to reduce costs and lead times. We are very experienced newcomers to aerospace,” Sun also said.

Meanwhile, the National Chungshan Institute of Science and Technology has been responsible for developing Taiwan’s defense systems and capabilities for close to 50 years and is now looking to become a major player in the global defense industry.

“We hope to be a part of the international supply chain and work with other major defense companies, even in jointly developing products. We also want to play a role in establishing a regional maintenance center here in Taiwan,” said recently promoted Army Gen. Chang Guan-chung, who is Deputy Minister of Defense and a former president of NCSIST.

Historically, NCSIST’s engineers and scientists have had to be creative and resourceful in compensating for its limited access to foreign technologies and spare parts. This challenging environment has strengthened its capacity to innovate and develop custom-made systems, sub-systems, components and materials for defense and civilian applications.

Because of its strong capabilities in system integration, NCSIST makes homegrown systems that are compatible to many foreign systems, including those used in the United States, an often overlooked advantage.

“We firmly believe that we have the capabilities and necessary experience to work with other international partners,” Chang said.

Taiwan 2017 was prepared for and originally printed in Foreign Affairs magazine.

PDF of the printed report

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