Taiwan’s Startup Ecosystem Overview

Taiwan’s startup ecosystem is thriving and growing at a fast rate.This growth can be attributed to a number of factors, including many government initiatives, an increase in capital dollars flowing into the ecosystem, and corporations becoming more actively involved in the startup scene. In the past few years, the Taiwanese government has been actively investing resources into building a robust startup ecosystem and incentivizing venture capitalists to invest into Taiwan. One of the key programs that has contributed to an increase in venture capital funding for startups is the Business Angel Investment Program by Taiwan’s National Development Council (NDC), through the National Development Fund (NDF). Last but not least, following the success of Taiwansese startups, there is a fast paced mindset change within the population that is pushing more talented people into taking risks and becoming entrepreneurs.
city skyline during night time Taiwan’s industry clusters can be broken down into three main regions, as suggested by Taiwan Startup Stadium : the northern (Taipei City, New Taipei City and Taoyuan City), central (Taichung City), and southern region (Tainan City and Kaohsiung City).

The northern region (Taipei City, New Taipei City, and Taoyuan City) has a high concentration in the HealthTech sector (11%, 16% and 17% of startups respectively) followed by the Consumer Product sector (14% of startups in New Taipei City and 14% of startups Taoyuan City). Examples of major industry clusters in the northern region are automotive manufacturing, information tech hardware, and health tech & medical devices. The northern region accounts for 72% of the country’s startups, 83% of accelerators, and 92% of Venture capitals.

The central region of Taiwan (Taichung City) focuses mainly on the precision machinery industry (19% Consumer Products, 18% Information Tech and Applications, and 14% Health Tech). Examples of major industry clusters in the central region are machine tool manufacturing, optical components, bicycle manufacturing, and glass manufacturing. The central region accounts for 7% of the country’s startups, 3% of accelerators and 2% of Venture capitals.

The southern region includes major hubs like Tainan City and Kaohsiung City, and focuses on the Consumer Product sector (17% of startups and 13% of startups respectively). Examples of major industry clusters in the southern region are automotive component manufacturing, yacht manufacturing, and metal and steel processing. The southern region accounts for 10% of the country’s startups, 7% of accelerators, and 2.5% of Venture capitals.

The three most relevant overperforming industries of Taiwan’s startup ecosystem, according to StartupBlink’s calculations, are Hardware & IoT, Health, and Energy & Environment.

Funding opportunities and incentives for entrepreneurs in Taiwan

Corporate venture capital is particularly strong in Taiwan,representing close to 60% of the industry, in comparison to around 25% worldwide, followed by Local Venture Capital, the National Development Fund, and overseas venture capital.

There are many Taiwanese government organizations that are dedicated to offering support, incentives and financial support for imports, exports, entrepreneurship in general, incubation centers, research & development and trade promotion. Some of the government run incentives for entrepreneurs are:

  • Young Entrepreneurs of the Loan - The loan’s main purpose is to encourage young entrepreneurs to start their own businesses while easing their financial stress.
  • Taiwan Entrepreneur Visa - This visa allows entrepreneurs one year to set up a business after arriving in Taiwan, meaning that they don’t have to set up the business beforehand. Entrepreneurs receive an initial one year residency with multiple entries, and if their business is successful, they may extend their Visa.

Programs for startups

Government funding, incubation centers and private support groups are creating a vibrant environment for startups, which has a positive spill-over effect on the business climate as a whole. Seamless integration between universities, research centers and commercial zones ensure a healthy environment where great ideas can flourish.

International Entrepreneur Initiative Taiwan (IEIT) - is provided by the Small and Medium Enterprise Administration, Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA SMEA) to help more international entrepreneurs start their businesses in Taiwan. IEIT is responsible for enabling a vast amount of government incentives, such as awards, loans, and grants for the benefit of SMEs and startups in Taiwan.

Startup Island TAIWAN - is a Taiwan national startup brand built up jointly by Taiwan’s government and startup communities.

Startup Terrace has the aim of boosting the startup development in southern Taiwan as well as becoming the first stop for startups in southern Taiwan to connect with the world, and create an internationally attractive startup ecosystem and an international entrepreneurial hub. Startup Terrace provides offices, housing and co-working spaces that make it the ideal place for startups to grow and develop, with offices in Linkuo & Kaohsiung.

Taiwan Tech Arena is a flagship startup ecosystem development program launched by the Ministry of Science and Technology with the purpose of fostering innovation, driving entrepreneurship, and promoting a vibrant, cross-border deep-tech startup ecosystem.

SLP TaipeI- The Startup Leadership Program (“SLP”) is a global not-for-profit educational program and professional network for the next generation of founders and entrepreneurs. Created in Boston in 2006, the program has educated 2,700 fellows in 13 countries, and includes over 700 women in the network.

Startup support facilities, coworking spaces and communities for entrepreneurs

man sitting on chair in front of laptop and man

CLBC (Taipei) - coworking space with a variety of unique workspaces and services across several locations.

Connect (Taipei) - offers a very smooth workplace for startups and remote workers. Connect is situated in the busy Eastern District of Taipei.

Futureward (Taipei) - has a wide range of casual and formal meeting and office spaces.

Makerbar (Taipei) - brings forth an innovative platform for artists, designers, entrepreneurs and remote workers.

Monospace (Taichung) - is a shared space for digital nomads which supports local communities and tech related activities.

Startup Terrace (Kaohsiung) - is located in the Kaohsiung Software Technology Park and welcomes international startups to Taiwan to connect with the local industry supply chain and encourages exchanges and co-creations between local and foreign talents.

The Hive (Taipei) - is a beautifully designed coworking space located in the heart of Zhongzheng district.

t.Hub (Taipei) - harnesses key partnerships with ITRI (Industrial Technology Research Institute) and NTP’s advanced technology clusters to create a vibrant innovative startup community.

Incubators and accelerators:

AppWorks Accelerator helps seed-stage startups go from 0 to 1. AppWorks Funds provide financing to help growth-stage startups scale faster.

Be Accelerator is a startup accelerator based in Taipei and a venture builder that focuses exclusively on Healthtech and Medtech. flyingVest Ventures is an accelerator with extensive experience in venture capital investments and crowdfunding including flyingV, the premier crowdfunding platform in Taiwan with over $ 2 billion funded, as well as the only licensed equity crowdfunding securities brokerage in Taiwan, and also extensive fund management experience with over $1 billion invested.

Foodland Ventures is the VC & accelerator investing in disruptive technology pushing the food industry forward, with operations in Asia and North America.

IAPS is a tech-oriented and the first university-affiliated startup accelerator which has worked with 750+ startups to date.

MuckerLab Ranked the number two accelerator in the US, MuckerLab portfolio companies have raised a total of over $8 billion.

SOSV-MOX is a deeply resourced startup development program for cross-border internet startups.

SparkLabs Taipei is a startup accelerator and VC fund founded by entrepreneurs for entrepreneurs with a mission to assist founders to go global.

StarFab accelerator enables and facilitates corporate-startup innovation and collaboration, corporate partners include over 20 Taiwanese listed companies, such as Advantech, Inventec, Delta Electronics, Flytech, and more.

Taidah Entrepreneurship center is an accelerator program dedicated to establishing a comprehensive startup ecosystem, leveraging the university’s (National Taiwan University) entrepreneurial talents and innovation capacity.

Taiwan Accelerator was Taiwan’s first seed accelerator, invests in and nurtures transformative technology and high impact startups, with special focus on 5G, artificial intelligence, edge computing, blockchain, and next gen computing technologies .

Taiwan Accelerator Plus is a customer driven acceleration program focusing on IoT and healthcare, sponsored by the Taiwan government. Taiwan Startup Stadium is Taiwan’s leading ecosystem builder aiming to cultivate global-minded entrepreneurs and showcase the most innovative Taiwanese startups to the world.

Startup 101 is a startup accelerator backed by Sunsino Venture Group, also known as the largest startup fundraising & investor matching platform in Taiwan.

500 Global Accelerator is backed by 500, a venture capital firm that invests early in founders building fast-growing technology companies, with more than $2.3 billion in assets under management.

Talent pool

16 universities in Taiwan are ranked in the QS World University Rankings 2021, and as many as 35 universities are featured in the QS Asia University Rankings 2021. International students choose Taiwan for a variety of reasons, from its world-leading tech industry, strong academic programs, and close proximity to Hsinchu Science Park – Taiwan’s answer to the US’s Silicon Valley, making universities such as National Tsing Hua University and National Cheng Kung University exciting places to study for anyone interested in high-tech.

woman wearing academic cap and dress selective focus photography

Resources and Events

Innovex - Aiming to help startups prosper, InnoVEX features exhibitions, pitch contests, matchmaking sessions, forums, and more.

MeetTaipei - Powered by Business Next Media, Meet Taipei is the largest and most disruptive global startup festival in Taiwan.

TTA X CES - Since 2018, TTA has selected top-notched startups to take part in CES, the world’s most influential tech event that takes place in Las Vegas every year in January.

Main Strengths of the Taiwan Startup Ecosystem
    • Geographical position between Asia and the Americas: Taiwan is in a privileged geographical position on the edge of East Asia that allows it to be a gateway to the continent for companies from the United States and the rest of the Americas.
    • Strong economic outlook: Taiwan’s industrial outlook remains bright despite decelerating growth, and the factors behind industrial production will remain stable supporting the economy into 2022.
    • Tech savvy population: Taiwan is a country with high internet penetration (88%), and as such has a tech savvy population.
    • Support for R&D through public expenditure: The Taiwanese Government is highly invested in the development of the country’s startup ecosystem and has financially supported initiatives such as the TaiwanTech Arena and Startup Island TAIWAN, with the goal of finding new ways of growing the country’s economy through entrepreneurship.
    • Robust external financial position: Taiwan is the fifth largest creditor economy, with a net external position of 200% of GDP and a stock of foreign net assets worth USD 2.3 trillion that generates solid income.
    • Foreign-friendly environment: Taiwan has been ranked as the best place to live for expats for the third year in a row by InterNations, a Munich-based expat network with about 4 million members.

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