What you need to know
In 2015, 29 Taiwanese start-ups received investments of more than US$450 million in total, which is almost triple the amount estimated in 2014. The considerable growth in incoming capitals shows that Taiwanese start-ups are attracting more attention from international venture capitalists, and actual investments are also increasing.
Translated and compiled by Bing-sheng Lee
In 2015, more Taiwanese start-ups have obtained investments and made significant progress in the amount of venture capital they garnered from both domestic and foreign investors, according to estimations released by the National Development Council (NDC) on March 1.
Last year, 29 Taiwanese start-ups received investments, while only 14 start-ups successfully attracted investors in 2014. Compared to the total amount of NT$5.32 billion (approximately US$160 million) invested in Taiwanese start-ups in 2014, last year also saw a considerable growth in incoming capitals to Taiwanese start-ups with more than NT$15 billion (approximately US$450 million) flowing in.
Chan Fang-kuan, director of Department of Industrial Development at the National Development Council, says that in addition to the rises in the number of start-ups funded and the amount of venture capital, which both set new records in Taiwan, the government has observed that Taiwanese start-ups are attracting more attention from international venture capitalists and actual investments are also increasing.
International venture capitalists like Sequia and GIC, domestic investors including 500 Startups and AppWorks, and Taiwanese corporations, such as Foxconn, MediaTek and Quanta Computer, have all invested in Taiwanese start-ups in 2015. These start-ups are from various industries, including electric-powered vehicles, artificial intelligence, E-commerce, and web applications.
TutorABC, an online interactive language learning service, received a sum of more than US$200 million last year from GIC, Russia-China Investment Fund, and Goldman Sachs. This was the highest amount among all the Taiwanese start-ups last year. Likewise, Gogoro, a start-up company that manufactures electricity-powered smart scooters, followed TutorABC with obtaining US$1.3 billion in 2015.
Early-stage start-ups like Pinkoi, VMFive, BoniO and MoBagel, also got investments from local and international investors.
Government taking measures to encourage start-ups
In August 2014, the NDC initiated its HeadStart Taiwan Project, which was designed to loosen legal restrictions, attract more foreign investors and help innovative new start-ups in Taiwan. Since then, the NDC has allowed multiple venture capital funds to participate in the project. The scale of the funds has reached more than NT$13.6 billion (approximately US$410 million), and the NDC alone has invested around NT$3 billion (approximately US$90 million).
To encourage more international talents to establish start-ups in Taiwan and boost the start-up industry, the NDC has taken steps to revise the regulations to open up for more foreign entrepreneurs and initiated an Entrepreneur Visa Program. The government has also amended some provisions in the Taiwan Companies Act to make it more foreigner-friendly.
In terms of building stronger connections with the international community, the NDC emphasizes that it has not only organized a local start-up cluster, “Taiwan Startup Stadium,” but also founded the Taiwan Innovation Entrepreneurship Center in the Silicon Valley.
The NDC says that they would keep working to loosen legal constraints on establishing start-ups in the future and encourage domestic industries to interact and collaborate more with new start-ups.
Edited by Olivia Yang