Taiwanese hardware manufacturers have been seizing the opportunities provided by AI to enter the healthcare industry, driven by the pursuit of higher gross margins and risk diversification. Ever since the Sino-American tech war intensified back in 2018, Taiwanese contract manufacturers that previously had a large presence in China started to look elsewhere for investment.
Meanwhile, contract manufacturers have been suffering from chronically low gross margins, and AI’s application in healthcare has provided one of rising chances for manufacturers to leverage their hardware expertise while providing products with higher gross margins.
Leading Taiwanese contract manufacturers such as Wistron Corp., Quanta Computer Inc., Foxconn Technology Group and Compal Electronics Inc. have all increased their presences in the relevant area.
Luckily, Taiwan’s advanced healthcare industry has also provided a fertile environment for the industry to test and explore AI’s various application scenarios on healthcare. Such convenient combination has prompted the likes of Wistron Group and Quanta Computer to invest in Taiwanese startups as a part of their strategies to accelerate the entry into AI healthcare.
Based on publicly available estimation, in 2018 there were only 207 investment deals with startups in Taiwan, totaling US$685 million. In 2019 the figure reached a record high of US$669 million, with 342 investment deals concluded.
Donald Huang, the CEO of Wistron’s medical subsidiary, believes that software is still the key to AI healthcare, and attributes Wistron’s success in this field to its software capability. Wistron was the first Taiwanese contract manufacturer to enter the healthcare industry. However, data is another key ingredient.
According to Dr. Pan-chyr Yang, a prominent medical professional from National Taiwan University, two key data types, retrospective and prospective data, are essential to build an AI-driven healthcare infrastructure in combination with cloud computing, blockchain, IoT and 5G. If such data can be more accessible in the future, it will be a significant step taken forward for Taiwan’s AI healthcare industry.