Under the leadership of ITRI President Edwin Liu, the ITRI Industry, Science and Technology International Strategy Center (ISTI) went through a reorganization in August 2018. The new organization merged the original Industrial Economics & Knowledge Center (IEK), ITRI International Center (IIC), and five overseas offices which joined the union this year. This new organization is expected to: Continuously grasp global industry and technology trends, facilitate international collaborations for Taiwanese industries and R&D organizations, make Taiwan a key partner in the global innovation ecosystem, and strengthen the additional value-add of industries while seeking an overall balance among economy, society, and environment.
Advanced Visions and Industry Technology Innovation
Since 2000, when former ITRI President Chin-tay Shih established IEK as the starting point, this year marks the 20th anniversary of ISTI. In order to carry on the work listed in ITRI's 2030 Technology Strategy & Roadmap, we set our 2025 vision as “Inspire Science-Technology Innovation and Value-up for Taiwan Industries.” The vision includes four important missions:
- Technology Scouting: Monitor advanced technology and new emerging markets.
- Ecosystem Networking: Connect the global innovation ecosystem network.
- Strategic Partnering: Collaborate with technical research strategic partners to co-create the future.
- Capability Boosting: Enhance the overall innovative technology R&D capabilities of industry, academic and research agencies in Taiwan.
ISTI will continue to roll out consulting and other services to our industry members under the name “IEK Consulting.” The annual research publication IEKTopics provides research results and development policy suggestions related to industries and major technology issues that would be significant to Taiwan in the next five years. Past topics covered include:
- 2019: Ecosystem Creation: Science-Technology Value-added to Converging Services
- 2018: 2030 Advanced Technology from an Asian Perspective
- 2017: Sustainability: Circular Regeneration for Innovation Economy
- 2016: Solve Problem: Smart Innovation, Happy City
- 2015: Driving IoT at Full Steam for First-Mover Advantages
- 2014: Triumph in Future: Envision Lifestyle to Lead Innovation
- 2013: Rally to Victory: Advanced Manufacturing as New Power for Taiwan
The topic for 2020 is “Resilient Ecosystem: Cross-domain Value Creation and Talent for Pilot,” which is inspired by two major global events that happened this year. The first is the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic that began at the end of 2019. By the end of August, the world has seen over 25 million confirmed cases and more than 850,000 deaths. Many experts predict that a major pandemic will occur every few years in the coming future, and this trend will become the new normal. The second one is the US-China trade war which has evolved into a technology war. This will not only lead to a redistribution of global manufacturing supply chains, but also transform the worldwide R&D and technology innovation collaboration ecosystem. As a small island sandwiched between two conflicting nations of power, Taiwan is caught in a very delicate position. These two major international events have triggered the acceleration to fight for “Zero-touch Economy, Zero-distance Innovation” business opportunities around the world. In addition, every nation will need to think about the needs of future resilient industries or resilient homelands.
Creating Blue Ocean Advantages with Cross-domain Core Capabilities and Domain Expertise
With the arrival of digital economy, developments in innovative technology and business models are speeding up. Large countries and major companies have scale advantages which may result in the big ones get bigger, and the winners take it all. Since Taiwan industries do not likely win against international competitors by scale, it is even more crucial for them to compete based on domain knowledge and applied technology. This is how Taiwan industries can increase their value by enhancing competitiveness in the new blue ocean market. Hence, we have summarized five major categories for cross-domain innovation: Cross-region, cross-application, cross-technology, cross-generation, and cross-culture.
It is important to remember that for facilitating cross-domain innovations, having a people-oriented perspective is crucial. Taiwan’s strongest resource lies in our talents with multicultural backgrounds. Through various innovative products and services, we can realize the goals of social inclusivity, environmental sustainability, and even distribution of wealth. For example, future AI applications will involve complex technology ethics. From a people-oriented thinking, the core concept of the design would be to deploy AI to assist users, instead of replacing people completely. In our publication, we also presented four key innovation roles: Innovation Scout, Innovation Facilitator, Determined Experimenter, and Resource Initiator. Taiwan needs to cultivate its own local talents and attract global talents to lead domestic businesses in expanding to worldwide market.
In the Post-pandemic Era, Talents Can Galvanize Innovation
Taiwan industries possess the manufacturing skills with service spirit. In the future, we hope that Taiwan industries can speed up transformation and upgrade in order to build “Resilient Industrial Ecochains” with “Smart Taiwan Value.” The overall environment is similar to a person with a healthy body and clear mind: intelligent decision support systems make the brain smarter, continuous operations the body, distributed manufacturing makes the limbs more flexible, and zero-contact epidemic prevention safeguards the immune system.
Lastly, the cover design for IEKTopics 2020 is a collage of images from all of the study cases conducted by our research team, including key elements of cross-domain collaborations which generate high value, and the leading talents who played crucial innovative roles in study cases. The final presentation indicates that in the post-pandemic era, industries, public sector, academia, research institutes, and the public have to work together to support the necessary transformation and upgrading Taiwan industries must strive forward in order to become more diverse and resilient. Eventually Taiwan can realize the vision of creating a “Resilient Ecosystem: Cross-domain Value Creation and Talent for Pilot.”
Amidst the pandemic spread and technology war, it is the worst of time for the world, but it is also the best of time for Resilient Taiwan.