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Taiwan’s Science Parks
Taiwan’s leading technology and science companies are heavily clustered in science parks where they have access to great infrastructure, joint research opportunities, tax benefits, as well as efficient shipping methods for their products. The clustering can also lead to powerful synergy effects. The percentage that the several hundred companies located in Taiwan’s science parks contribute to the national GDP is well in the double digits.
Today, the various science and industrial parks are usually grouped into three general areas: the Hsinchu Science Park — arguably the most well-known and profitable of the bunch — the Central Taiwan Science Park, and the Southern Taiwan Science Park.
Hsinchu Science Park
The opening of Hsinchu Science Park (HSP) in 1980 was Taiwan’s first foray into the science park concept, which was introduced some 30 years earlier in Silicon Valley. The HSP was instrumental in establishing Taiwan as a prime location for high-tech companies and to this day attracts major foreign investments, with a turnover of 1.04 trillion TWD (over 34 billion US dollars) in 2016.
The HSP is split into six main locations: the parks in Hsinchu, Jhunan, Tongluo, Longtan, and Yilan, as well as the second park in Hsinchu focusing on biomedical science. The companies found there are mostly known for their expertise in producing semiconductors, as well as optoelectronics and biotechnology. Due to the local science park, the city of Hsinchu boasts some of the highest income levels in Taiwan and is also one of the larger expat destinations in the country.
Southern Taiwan Science Park
The second addition to the science park landscape of Taiwan, with locations in Kaohsiung and Tainan, has a similar focus as the trailblazing HSP. The Southern Taiwan Science Park (STSP) mainly operates in the industries of integrated circuits, optoelectronics, and biotechnology, as well as green energies.
The latter is an important market in Taiwan, as the nation’s lack of resources makes it necessary to import most of its energy needs, typically in the form of fossil fuels. The year 2009 saw the implementation of various acts by the Taiwanese government to invest in and promote the use of renewable energies to help lower the nation’s carbon emissions. By 2025, the goal is to also eliminate the reliance on nuclear power, which accounted for 14% of Taiwan’s electricity production in early 2017. Major investments in the green energy sector have already taken place, with more scheduled to be undertaken in the years to come.
Central Taiwan Science Park
The Central Taiwan Science Park is the latest expansion of Taiwan’s ever-growing high-tech sector, having opened for business in 2003. It is largely based in and around Taichung, another major city in Taiwan, and includes the Huwei Park, Houli Park, Advanced Research Park, Erlin Park, as well as the Taichung Park itself.
The science park provides not only the local population but also expats with many employment opportunities. Again, the main industries the park focuses on are largely identical to those of the other parks.
There has been some debate on the future direction of the science parks, as it became apparent that the integration of new and more diverse sectors will be necessary to ensure Taiwan’s top position in the world’s high-tech markets for the next few years. As we have outlined in the first part of this article, the country’s economy is very dependent on exports and sensitive to changes in the world market. Measures to solve this problem are already underway, though: there is a lot of investment in upcoming technologies such as the Internet of Things and smart cities; cooperation between academia and business, as well as founding start-ups, is also strongly encouraged and supported.
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