Up until a few years ago an entrepreneur in Taiwan who were lacking in their Chinese language abilities had quite a challenge. Information was hard to get and even harder to understand. And if you were a foreigner, many programs that were open to local entrepreneurs were closed to you.
All this is changing.
In January 2013 the book How to Start a Business in Taiwan was published providing foreigners with a one-stop overview of the rules and regulations needed to start a company.
The year 2013 also saw the first time the Taipei City Government Department of Economic Development hosted a seminar in English to inform about their subsidies and grants. The seminar was repeated with great success in June 2014 (http://startabusinessintaiwan.tw/blog/398-taipei-city-government-reaches-out-to-foreign-entrepreneurs-about-grants-subsidies). The Taipei City government now have many great programs and they are open to Taipei companies no matter if their owners are foreign or Taiwanese. And they have English-speaking consultants who can help.
Taipei City is clearly taking a lead role in encouraging foreign/immigrant entrepreneurs and in attracting foreign investments. The key person behind this policy is Commissioner Chi-jui Huang of Taipei City Government Department of Economic Development.
Commissioner Huang was kind enough to take time out of his busy schedule to talk to us about why his department is trying to attract foreign entrepreneurs and SMEs to invest more money in Taipei and why he thinks it makes sense for them to do so.
What follows is an edited excerpt from that interview.
What is the superiority of Taipei’s investment environment?
Taipei has a very well established infrastructure and the investment climate is very friendly, especially taxes, compared to other major Asian cities. The living environment is also very pleasant and transportation is easy and inexpensive. In addition to an extensive network of subways and buses, we also have an eco-friendly Youbike bike rental system; first 30 minutes are for free (http://www.youbike.com.tw).
Taipei City Government offers free Wi-Fi that provides easy and convenient internet communication access for local citizen and visitors. The service is great for anyone who like being constantly connected but can’t be bothered with paid services. (to learn more about TPE Free Wi-Fi see http://www.tpe-free.taipei.gov.tw/tpe/EN-TPE-Guide.html).
We also have a lot of grants and subsidies for foreign companies to encourage them to explore business opportunities and potentially invest and grow business here (https://www.industry-incentive.taipei.gov.tw/eng_Page_projintro.aspx).
We more than welcome foreign friends to work together with us to find our markets and our opportunities.
What value to you feel that foreign entrepreneurs bring to Taipei?
These foreign entrepreneurs create a lot of value for Taiwan business. They bring new models and fantastic ideas to Taiwan that create new skills and job opportunities.
For example, We like that very much; they can give a very positive impact for our business people.
At the last grants seminar you introduced the SMILE association, please tell us a bit more.
We invite all foreign entrepreneurs and investors to join SMILE Taipei Investment Association. The purpose of the association is to be a platform for the exchange of ideas and social networking. We will also invite local companies so everyone can share and work together. Not just small companies, we will also invite large and listed companies to join this association too. This way foreign business people can find more business opportunities and partners in Taiwan and even in China.
Anything else you would like to add that I might not have asked about?
I want to emphasize that we very much encourage start-up companies. In Taipei we have 24 co-working spaces, incubators and accelerators. These organizations has helped more than 500 companies to start up their businesses. If there are foreign entrepreneurs, even if they have just arrived into Taiwan, they can contact with these organizations. This can reduce their cost significantly and tap into existing social networks.
Not only that, we also cooperate with the central government and we will have a new accelerator and incubator in YuanShan, where we will provide facilities and space. We will also invite some very impressive international mentors to help those new start-ups. Our goal is to help 100 new companies start on March of 2014. If foreign friends are interested in these resources they can contact with us or you (Start a Business in Taiwan).
The new accelerator and incubator will in the end be able to accommodate 500-1000 new start-ups and we are especially interested to see foreign companies to come and apply.
We know that some laws and regulations are not so friendly for foreigners but we are working on making it better.
Anyone who is interested in taking advantage of all this support can contact the Department of Economic Development (http://english.doed.taipei.gov.tw).