TBD21 & WeScale Challenge: Connecting Business Opportunities with Entrepreneurs in Taiwan & the Netherlands

Left to right: Guy Wittich, Representative Hsin-Hsin Chen, Pim de Bokx, Vice Mayor Klaas Verschuure

On November 10 2021, the 10th edition of Taiwan Business Day (TBD) in the Netherlands was successfully held in an online webinar format, with over 90 participants hailing from business & entrepreneurship communities in both Taiwan & the Netherlands. Organized as the combined effort of TGN, Tiger Accelerator, StartupUtrecht and Taiwan Business Association in the Netherlands (TBA-NL), this year’s TBD featured an inspiring theme — Smart Money for Smart Startups. 

Throughout the webinar, business leaders and key ecosystem stakeholders shared their insights and knowledge on the resources & opportunities available for startups from Taiwan & the Netherlands to achieve success internationally, and to scale up in each others’ geography.

Taiwan Business Day (TBD) is an annual seminar event organized in the Netherlands by Taiwan Globalization Network (TGN) and partners. Starting in 2012, TBD had facilitated numerous cooperations between innovation ecosystems in the two geographies, and had encouraged the formation of many valuable business connections between the Netherlands & Taiwan. 

Welcome & Opening Speeches

At the beginning of the webinar, moderator Pim de Bokx (Chairman Dutch Incubation Association, DIA) introduced Valerie Hsu,  Founder & Director of TGN & Tiger Accelerator. Addressing the TBD event’s 10th Anniversary, Valerie shared a brief introduction on the main objectives behind the TBD event, and how it’s scope grew through the years. 

Currently, TBD has become one element in a much larger Ecosystem-to-Ecosystem relationships between the startup scenes in Taiwan and the Netherlands, which also includes other projects like the RAPID-Health program, 1-on-1 Coaching offered by Tiger Accelerator, venture-building and co-investment arrangements provided by partners in NL & TW, as well as many more hub-to-hub softlanding instruments. Ultimately, TGN is creating a platform which facilitates companies to utilize the Netherlands as a hub to enter the European market, as well as utilizing Taiwan as a hub to enter the Asian market, and the TBD event highlights the many possible specific passageways within this broader connection.

Valerie also pointed out that, since the early days of the TBD event in 2012, there has been  continuous and substantial support from both the Taiwan Business Association in the Netherlands (TBA-NL) and the Taiwan Representative Office in the Netherlands (TRO). Throughout the years, TBA-NL connected its senior business leaders memberbase to the TGN platform, both in the capacity as management consultants for startups and as potential partners/investors. Meanwhile, TRO facilitated TGN’s projects in the role of a public institution, connecting the TGN platform with various key stakeholders in Taiwan and the Netherlands, both in the public and private sectors. The input from these two parties were certainly pivotal to the current success of both the TBD seminars and the Taiwan Globalization Network platform. 

In her welcome speech, Representative Hsin Hsin Chen of the Taipei Representative Office in the Netherlands expressed her support for the TBD initiative, as well as her high hope for the startups from both Taiwan & the Netherlands to make use of the softlanding resources provided by the partners of the TBD platform, in order to truly take the next step in their internationalization journey.

In turn, with his opening remarks, Vice Mayor Klaas Verschuure of the City of Utrecht brought up the notion that Taiwan is a hidden gem for Dutch startups, with excellent R&D capabilities, positive public support, an open society that enables great ease in doing business, and many technological opportunities. Indeed, the strengths of Taiwan’s and the Netherlands’ startup scenes compliment each other, and by working together, the two ecosystems have the capacity to co-create many more valuable solutions for the world.

Then, Emile M. P. Chang, CEO of InvesTaiwan, delivered a welcome message that highlights the importance of investment in this collaborative relationship between Taiwan and the Netherlands. As an organization connecting many stakeholders and institutions, InvesTaiwan can act as a central service window for foreign investments to Taiwan. For those interested in the investment opportunities Taiwan has to offer, InvesTaiwan would be the right party to contact for taking the first step.

Emile M. P. Chang, CEO of InvesTaiwan

Keynote Speakers: Netherlands

After the opening remarks, the first half of TBD21 featured 3 Keynote Speakers from the Netherlands, sharing their insights on the most noteworthy Taiwanese opportunities currently available and accessible for Dutch businesses, and especially for Dutch startups.

First to present was Guy Wittich, Former Representative of the Netherlands Office Taipei / Senior Policy Advisor for Semiconductor Industry at the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate, The Netherlands. Having worked in Taiwan & in Asia since the 1980s, and having worked in both the private and public sectors, Guy identified the various existing modes of TW-NL collaboration he has observed through the years, particularly in the domains of innovation and manufacturing, which contributed to the great success of companies like TSMC and ASML. 

Indeed, the solid collaborative basis established by these relationships also contribute to robust institutions and a resourceful entrepreneurial environment fit for Dutch and Taiwanese tech startups to grow and thrive. Currently, there are opportunities for Dutch and Taiwanese companies to collaborate across all industry sectors, but opportunities are particularly noteworthy in the Deeptech sector. 

In recent years, both the Netherlands and Taiwan have curated impressive portfolios of Deeptech startups in fields such as nanotechnology and semiconductors, with promising applications in high value industries such as healthcare and finance. More specifically, Dutch deeptech innovators can benefit from Taiwanese partners’ operational efficiency and manufacturing capabilities, to scale up their operation and further connect with international markets. Additionally, Taiwanese sources of investment, often in the form of Private Equity, can also be a highly relevant  source of finance for many Dutch startups at the scaling up stage.

The next keynote came from Laisy Deng from the Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO). In her presentation, she highlighted the various services and solutions offered by the RVO to Dutch businesses, to help them pursue their business plans for Taiwan. 

Whether a company is at the beginning stage of exploring/considering their options for expansion to Taiwan, or if a Dutch company is already exporting to Taiwan and is interested in new ways to obtain more export orders, or if a Dutch company operating in Taiwan is in search for new sources of financing, RVO can provide the appropriate resources and services to help companies achieve success in the Taiwanese business environment.

After this, Patty Yen, Director at Taiwan Trade Center Rotterdam(TAITRA) gave an overview of the services provided by TAITRA for Dutch companies. TAITRA is the Taiwan External Trade Development Council, an organization with the mission to assist entrepreneurs expand their global reach. In May 2022, TAITRA welcomes Dutch startups and entrepreneurs to join the InnoVEX exhibition, the startup platform of Taipei’s Computex technology trade show & conference. Situated within one of the world’s largest tech events, InnoVEX is the ideal opportunity for Dutch entrepreneurs to meet potential partners and investors in Taiwan. Interested parties are welcome to contact TAITRA for more information.

Keynote Speakers: Taiwan

In the second half of TBD21, 3 Keynote Speakers from Taiwan shared their knowledge on the various opportunities and resources that Taiwan’s startup environment currently offers to Dutch stakeholders. Interestingly, each speaker presented a unique perspective from a different role in Taiwan’s startup ecosystem.

Firstly, Daisy Lee from Taiwan’s Startup Terrace introduced the solutions Startup Terrace provides for international companies. With a campus situated in Linkou, in the heart of Taipei entrepreneurship landscape, Startup Terrace offers diverse forms of office spaces for international startups, as well as accommodation for international talents to stay in. Perhaps more importantly, beyond fulfilling these basic needs, Startup Terrace also provides extensive business services to help startups accelerate and approach international markets. 

Specifically, Startup Terrace provides Professional Consulting, Proof of Concept services for startups to test their technologies in environments such as hospitals, schools and more, and Ecosystem Networking opportunities for startups to connect with key stakeholders, investors, and other relevant businesses in Taiwan’s startup scene.

Then, speaker Jerry Lin shared an overview of the main services provided by TRIPLE – Taiwan Rapid Innovation Prototyping League for Entrepreneurs. TRIPLE’s matchmaking platform can link and match international startups to a rich portfolio of Taiwanese manufacturing and design partners that can best support their needs, at every step in the product’s journey, from initial design ideas to system integration, to prototyping, to mass production. For many tech startups, this can be a highly relevant channel for identifying the most fitting manufacturing resources.

The final presentation at TBD21 came from  Cami Lu, Operating Partner of Sunsino Venture Group, where she outlined the major opportunities for investment in Taiwan’s Artificial Intelligence sector, from the perspective of a Venture Capital investor. 

According to recent funding trends, AI startups have been rather appealing  for Taiwanese investors, and among them there is a particular interest in early stages (pre-A and A round) AI startups. As for industries, the highest investment interests are for AI startups active in the Advertising/Marketing and Healthcare sectors. In Taiwan, currently the largest category of investors in AI startups are corporates/CVCs and Venture Capital.

Judging from the current international recognition in Taiwan’s AI startup ecosystem by influential companies such as Google and Microsoft, and based on Taiwan’s strong history of hardware competence, Taiwan’s AI sector certainly has the potential to bring forth many new ideas and developments in the future.

WeScale Challenge 2021 Winner: CancerFree Biotech

The WeScale Challenge is an annual pitch competition for startups interested in international expansion via Taiwan & the Netherlands. Each year, the winning startups are awarded with business resources to kickstart their business expansion plan. 

This year, the WeScale Challenge took place on Nov 9, 2021. During the pitch competition, 6 Taiwanese startups presented their core products, technologies, and their vision for international expansion, in front of an International Jury and a live audience made up of business community members from both Taiwan and the Netherlands. After each pitch, the startups also took on answering the Jury’s insightful and incisive questions.

The startups pitching at the WeScale Challenge 2021 included:

In the Taiwan Business Day webinar, the winner of this year’s WeScale Challenge was announced. The  winner of WeScale Challenge 2021 is: Cancerfree Biotech. The jury agreed that CancerFree Biotech introduces a truly innovative solution, with the highest potential to achieve success in the European market.

CancerFree Biotech: Company Profile

We are the first commercialized in-vitro tumor cell culture platform from liquid biopsy. Current cancer treatment is based on standard treatment protocols and physician experience, but individual differences make treatment methods work differently for each patient. Through our platform E.V.A. (Ex-Vivo Avatar), doctors will know the actual effect of drugs on patients’ cancer cells, and can further tailor treatment to patients’ conditions, reducing the risk of patients trying drugs on themselves and reducing the risk and cost of potential ineffective drugs.

E.V.A. is Circulating Tumor Cell – Derived Organoid (CDO) culture system containing 3D scaffolds to facilitate tumor cell proliferation. We have completed more than 800 real world data across more than 100 types of solid tumors. The early clinical data shows the average clinical response rate is 76.9%. E.V.A. can also help new cancer drug development companies to validate the drug suppression effect on tumor cells from real patients and screen for the clinical trial candidates. CancerFree Biotech is committed to developing a more competitive and personalized anti-cancer drug testing service.

What’s Next After TBD21?

Currently, TGN  & Tiger Accelerator are committing efforts into establishing a public-private-partnership (PPP) cooperation structure to strengthen the Taiwan – Netherlands soft-landing bridge via Hub2Hub – regional innovation hubs collaboration.  

Some of the main goals within this project include creating collaborative and lasting relationships with multiple regions and cities in the Netherlands, organizing a sustainable matchmaking platform between investors and startups from TW and NL, establishing an investment funds as a fundraising instrument to help startups enter new markets via a venture-builder model, and more. 

If you are interested in collaborating with TGN & Tiger Accelerator to co-create projects within the scope of these goals, please get in touch with us at info@taiwanglobalization.net. We are always looking for ways to build new partnerships and to extend the capacity of TGN & Tiger Accelerator, by connecting more stakeholders to a collaborative network.

Guests & Speakers at the TBD21 on-site location in Utrecht

Crossroads 2021 

Crossroads 2021 is an international conference organized by StartupUtrecht from 8 – 11 November, during Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW) 2021. In the conference, startups, scaleups, investors, corporates, and various stakeholders in the European startup ecosystem come together to network and engage with each other. 

This year, Taiwan Business Day 2021 and WeScale Challenge 2021 are organized as a part of the Crossroads 2021 program.

Global Entrepreneurship Week Taiwan (GEW Taiwan)

Global Entrepreneurship Week Taiwan is supported by Taiwan’s Small and Medium Enterprise Administration(SMEA), Ministry of Economic Affairs(MOEA), and activated by the National Innovation and Entrepreneurship Association (NiEA). During the week between November 8 and November 14, GEW Taiwan highlights numerous Taiwanese startup ecosystem events in an international context, and draws attention to what Taiwan’s startup scene has to offer for international partners.

This year, Taiwan Business Day 2021 and WeScale Challenge 2021 are organized as a part of the GEW Taiwan Program.

TBD21 Event Partners

This year’s TBD 21 Event Series is the outcome of the combined efforts of Taiwan Globalization Network (TGN), Tiger Accelerator, StartupUtrecht and Taiwan Business Association in the Netherlands (TBA-NL). In addition to these efforts, the event series was made possible by the significant contribution of our co-organizers: Biohub Taiwan, Biomedical Translation Research Center, InvesTaiwan, Startup Terrace, Sunsino Venture Group, TAITRA (Taiwan External Trade Development Council), NiEA (National Innovation & Entrepreneurship Association), and with the great help from our local partner ROM Utrecht Region in the Netherlands and Dutch Incubation Association (DIA). Finally, the events’ success also needs to be attributed to the sustained support from our advisors: Taiwan’s Small and Medium Enterprise Administration, Ministry of Economic Affairs, and the Taipei Representative Office in the Netherlands.

The organizers of the TBD21 events would like to hereby express our appreciation to all partners mentioned above, as well as to the sponsors/partners of the ongoing Taiwan Innovation Fair & Share 2021 virtual exhibition. The pivotal support of our partners is what empowers us to strengthen the ecosystem-to-ecosystem connection between Taiwan and the Netherlands. We look forward to collaborating with our partners again in the many future editions of the Taiwan Business Day in the Netherlands event series, and to expand the capacity of our networks together.


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