Starting from 2018, under ITRI President Edwin Liu’s leadership, ITRI’s Industry, Science and Technology International Strategy Center (ISTI) gradually merged the former Industrial Economics & Knowledge Center (IEK, 2018), ITRI International Center (IIC, 2018), five overseas offices (2020), and regional and cross-strait divisions (2021).
The new Strategy Center is expected to assist ITRI in serving its role as a research institute which connects Taiwan’s industries with the world. In addition to facilitating more international collaborations for Taiwanese industries and R&D organizations, ISTI is also responsible for observing global industry and technology trends, helping Taiwan become a key partner in the global innovation ecosystem and increasing overall industry add-on value with suggestions that have factored in other aspects such as overall economic, societal, and environmental conditions.
Seizing Business Opportunities during the Pandemic
ITRI has been planning out long-term technology development schemes according to the 2030 Technology Strategy & Roadmap since 2018. ISTI is an active member of the strategy planning team and has integrated the Roadmap’s directions into the Institute’s 2025 Vision: Inspire science-technology innovation and value-up for Taiwan industries.
This vision includes four main missions: Technology Scouting - scan for advanced technologies and emerging application markets, Ecosystem Networking - connect and form a global innovation eco-network, Strategic Partnering - collaborate with technology R&D partners to create the future, and Capability Boosting - enhance the overall innovative technology R&D capacity of Taiwan’s industry, academia, and research sectors.
In 2013, ISTI began to provide research results and development policy suggestions related to industries and major technology issues that would be significant to Taiwan in the next five years in the annual research publication, IEKTopics, and continues to track following policies or industry benefits of leading hot topics.
Past topics covered include:
- 2020: Resilient Ecosystem: Cross-domain Value Creation and Talent for Pilot
- 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
Last October when we published the topic “Resilient Ecosystem,” it was the time when Taiwan had been successful in containing the pandemic for the entire year and could also supply other countries with face masks and ventilators. However, Taiwan was struck hard by the recurring pandemic this May and the entire nation entered a Level 3 alert which lasted till mid-August. Nevertheless, Taiwan was considerably blessed: our economy still benefited from the continuous growth of manufacturing exports. According to the MOEA’s Department of Statistics, the manufacturing industry’s output value for the first half of 2021 was NTD 7.5 trillion, which is the highest compared with past YoYs. Although the base period of last year’s Q2 was lower due to the pandemic, the YoY for this year’s Q2 output value still managed to reach 34.5%, marking a positive growth for three consecutive quarters. It is worth noting that the pandemic gave rise to Working from Home (WFH), online learning, and other zero-touch economy and remote work/learning business opportunities which consequently stimulated strong, lasting demand in related ICT industries, including 5G, AI, high performance computing, and vehicle electronics. The output values of computer electronics and IC industries hit a record high for a single quarter as well.
Increase International Connections and Strengthen Industry Ecochains
According to research done by ISTI’s IEK Consulting, Taiwan’s future industry development policies should pay attention to the following four major international trends:
Digital Transformation: This year COVID-19 continues to disrupt the global economy and our everyday lives. However, despite the negative impact, the pandemic also sped up the application and acceptance of digital technology. Many businesses have begun digital transformation during this period as well. Yet for most small and medium manufacturers and service businesses, this shift becomes an additional challenge. These businesses are already at a disadvantage to begin with and now may even go out of business.
Industry Ecochains Restructuring: Due to the technology war ignited by the US-China trade war, countries around the globe have taken sides and formed two distinctive technology stances. This situation would likely last for another decade or more and has triggered a reorganization of the global industry ecochains. In the past, manufacturing was mostly concentrated in low production cost countries; but now more and more products are being produced locally at the main consumption country.
Local Economy Revitalization: In the past few years, European countries have been confronted by many local economic challenges and the unemployment rate among young people continues to rise. Even the US is encouraging its manufacturers to return and relocate in the States due to economic and national security reasons. These phenomena show that revitalizing the local economy has become an important policy objective for countries around the globe.
Net Zero Carbon Emission: Net zero carbon emission has become the common goal of global green recovery trends and will open up opportunities for new ecochains, business models, and deployments. Since international collaborations are more important than ever now, Taiwan should play an active role in the above-mentioned trends and strive to become a crucial partner of other countries.
The Four Main Directions and Eight Major Actions to Facilitate International Collaborations
Therefore, this year we set 2021 “International Linkage: Resilient for Co-Innovation, Sustainable for Co-Prosperity” as our publication’s research topic. To actively take part in the four main international trends, Taiwan should think about how to build better international collaborations and stronger industry ecochains. The goal is to let technology R&D boost innovative applications while preserving environmental sustainability to eventually share the results and prosper with global partners. After interviewing experts and analyzing case studies, our research team presented four main directions and eight major actions Taiwan should take to strengthen international connections. The four main directions to boost international connections are listed as follows:
1.Build Resilient Ecochains: Considering the possible risks of natural causes (the pandemic, earthquakes, etc.) and man-made disasters (geopolitics, war, etc.), manufacturing and service industries must deploy globally and set up strong industry ecochains. Other capabilities required to survive the obstacles include agile distributed manufacturing, high resilience zero-contact epidemic prevention means, high durability uninterrupted operations, and high-value intelligent decision-making.
2.Enhance Local Industry Values: Attract domestic and overseas businesses to Taiwan with our local strengths (e.g. location, multicultural society) and professionals, and encourage the businesses to set up operation offices, innovation R&D centers, or high-level manufacturing bases in Taiwan. This will introduce emerging applications and international experiences into the development of Taiwan's industry ecochains, stimulate domestic industry transformation and upgrading, and cultivate local talents.
3.Spearhead Innovative Applications: Businesses can leverage international collaborations to spearhead innovative applications. By bringing in international advanced technologies to add value to research results or testing and refining the technology at various global testing venues, Taiwan can be one of the first to enter the innovative application market and lead the development of relevant industries.
4.Realize Environmental Sustainability: Thanks to the shared global vision of “2050 net zero and sustainability,” many businesses are striving to keep up with global trends and realize the goal of net zero carbon emission. This transition is not merely done to follow the rules of emerging industries and improve the business’ international brand image, but to eventually actualize the ultimate goal of energy conservation, carbon reduction, and environmental protection.
Furthermore, the research team also suggested implementing the following eight major actions to facilitate more international collaborations: Leverage Mutual Strengths, Enhance International Participation, Attract Foreign Investments, Expand Global Deployment, Establish R&D Collaborations, Provide Testbed Venues, Pioneer for Role Model, and Achieve Common Goals. For each action, this issue offers a couple of case studies and suggestions for industry development. Please refer to the publication for more details.
Last but not least, the cover design of the IEKTopics 2021 “International Linkage: Resilient for Co-Innovation, Sustainable for Co-Prosperity” expresses the hope that we can nurture Taiwan as a big tree through the four main directions and facilitate more international collaborations so that the tree will grow tall and strong. The eight major actions will help the tree blossom and bear fruit, and the crisscrossing ribbons indicate inter-sectional interactions and connections. The back cover shows that Taiwan is connecting with the world, and the many figures indicate the convergence of intellect from talents in Taiwan and the world. Overall, the design expresses that Taiwan can and will become a key partner in the international innovation industry ecochains.