On August 21, the National Development Council (NDC) held the “Startup Island TAIWAN NEXT BIG Award Ceremony” at Taipei 101. President Tsai Ing-wen personally extended her congratulations to the second group of NEXT BIG and conveyed her anticipation that NEXT BIG would serve as pioneering innovators from Taiwan, leading the charge to the global stage. In addition to the NEXT BIG startups receiving awards, the event was attended by opinion leaders from the startup community, domestic and international industry experts, representatives from over ten foreign institutions and chambers of commerce, as well as representatives from various ministries and agencies including the Overseas Community Affairs Council, the Ministry of Digital Affairs, the Ministry of Culture, the National Science and Technology Council, the Financial Supervisory Commission, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The occasion was spectacular. The 13 NEXT BIG are: AmazingTalker, CuboAi, CyCraft, Dcard, EUI, FunNow, GoFreight, Gogolook, Hahow, Health2Sync, inline, NextDrive, and Tron Future.
The 13 NEXT BIG startups cover various industries including education technology, smart health, fintech, lifestyle and entertainment, cybersecurity, sustainable energy, defense aerospace, showcasing a diverse range of fields. Their commonality lies in their innovative and proactive approaches to problem-solving, which are exactly the energies Taiwan needs. President Tsai praised each startup for their creativity and ability to blend different cultures, transcending geographical boundaries to go global. Each one of them serves as the best spokesperson of Taiwan's startup brand. Regarding the affirmation from the startup community that Taiwan's startup environment has transformed from a desert to a thriving rainforest, the President responded with optimism, acknowledging the strides taken thus far. However, she emphasized the need to accelerate further with determination and creativity in order to become a global startup powerhouse.
Kung Ming-hsin, Minister of the NDC stated that NEXT BIG represents exemplary startups recommended jointly by the startup community and industry leaders. Following the selection of 9 startups as NEXT BIG in 2021, this year's selection involved 111 outstanding startups with transformative capabilities and high development potential recommended by the startup community. After multiple discussions and consensus-building, the final 13 NEXT BIG were selected, each with distinct characteristics, addressing pain points in various industries, making it challenging to choose among them. Minister Kung also envisions NEXT BIG playing a pivotal role, breaking out of the rainforest and shining brightly on the international stage, thereby illuminating the national startup brand of Startup Island TAIWAN.
Both President Tsai and Minister Kung emphasized that with the collaborative efforts of the startup community, industries, and the government in recent years, Taiwan's startup ecosystem has progressed significantly. The number of startups has grown from over 2,000 in 2015 to over 7,400, and the overall investment has increased from $400 million USD to $1.9 billion USD. Not only have many startups gained international recognition, but four unicorns have also emerged, including two from the first group of NEXT BIG: Gogoro, the electric scooter leader listed on Nasdaq in the United States, and 91APP, the first SaaS company listed on the Taipei Exchange.
Since 2016, the government has been promoting the “Asia Silicon Valley Development Plan,” enhancing the startup ecosystem from various aspects including funding, talent, regulations, markets, and clusters. In particular, the National Development Fund launched the “Business Angel Investment Program” in 2017, which has so far invested in 237 companies, driving total investments to over NT$11.7 billion. The Financial Supervisory Commission also established two new boards for startups—the Taiwan Innovation Board and the Pioneer Stock Board—providing diverse funding sources for entrepreneurs. Additionally, the government has connected innovation clusters like Taipei Arena, Linkou Startup Terrace, Hsinchu Science and Industrial Park and Biomedical Science Park, and Startup Terrace Kaohsiung, forming a “Startup Corridor” that offers a better environment for innovative enterprises and talents to thrive. The government will continue to be a strong support, enabling more entrepreneurs to shine on the international stage, and anticipating more opportunities for collaboration with other countries to address global challenges through Taiwan's startup energy.
Steven Ho, Chairman of 91APP, also the Chairman of the Taiwan Internet and E-Commerce Association (TiEA), attended as a representative of the first Group of NEXT BIG. He acknowledged the government's efforts in promoting the digital economy, including the establishment of the Ministry of Digital Affairs, the addition of digital cloud categories on the stock market, and the selection of NEXT BIG as a symbol of leadership, comparing it to the Oscars of Taiwan's startup world. Chairman Ho encouraged the 13 NEXT BIG startups, stating that receiving the award not only marks a high point but also signifies a new starting point, with at least 5-10 times growth potential in the future. TiEA will continue to cooperate with the government and the industry to jointly support Taiwan's digital economic development.
Notably, Taipei 101 will illuminate its building from 6 PM to 10 PM today (August 21) to support innovation and inspire young generations to unleash their creativity and set sail with their dreams. This gesture aims to enhance the international recognition of Startup Island TAIWAN and NEXT BIG, allowing the world to see Taiwan.
The NDC further explained that NEXT BIG represents the rising stars leading Taiwan's innovative development. It is a privilege to invite them as partners of the national startup brand, Startup Island TAIWAN, forming the united image of Team TAIWAN in the startup world, Together, Go Big! For more information, please follow the official website and social media platforms of Startup Island TAIWAN.
Official Website: https://www.startupislandtaiwan.info/
Fang-Guan Jan, Director General, Department of Industrial Development