Covid-19 has not only accelerated digitalization, but also ushered in a new chapter for global capital market, including that of Taiwan.
Taiwan’s world leading semiconductor industry has long underpinned its high-tech ecosystem, and has furthered strengthened its key role in the global cloud and edge servers industry. As cloud and edge computing lay the groundwork of digitalization, Taiwan’s unique understanding of both worlds has given it a solid foundation to participate in the digital reconstruction of the post-pandemic world.
Despite the technical advantage as well as a wealth of funding, Taiwan has given rise to few unicorns – startups with valuations reaching US$1 billion, with few exceptions such as Gogoro, which is to be listed on Nasdaq in 2022.
It can be largely attributed to Taiwan’s uneven investment scene that sees funding channeled into either seed-stage startups or late stage startups, the latter often an acquisition target for big corporations. In contrast, early stage startup investment has been a gap that few are willing to fill, until the pandemic altered the traditionally conservative investment strategies of private equity funds, leading them into venture capital investments. It has also created the opportunity of the decade for Taiwanese startups to be the next unicorns, joining the “unicorn boom” that has gripped the post-pandemic world.
Bridging U.S. and Taiwanese startup ecosystems
The North America Taiwanese Engineering & Science Association (NATEA), a non-profit organization founded in 1991 in Silicon Valley, has been a main player in fostering Taiwan’s high-tech startups, drawing from its connections, resources and experiences accumulated in the past 30 years. Aiming to bridge the investors and founders in both American and Taiwanese startup ecosystems, NATEA recently held a U.S. Taiwan Startup Forum in September, bringing together 16 startups from both sides of the Pacific as well as VC investors.
Chieh Huang, co-founder and CEO of Boxed, an American online wholesale retailer planning IPO on Nasdaq, was the keynote speaker at the event, and he considered it a great period to launch startups. While electricity took 46 years to be widespread, it only took the Internet 7 years, according to Huang. He believed that it would be increasingly easier to learn new technology, and expressed his optimism on the current startup scene.
Prominent among the participant startups was Blockchain Security Corporation. Founded in 2018, the Taipei-based company provides digital data preservation and blockchain solutions for various industries. Currently, it focuses on web page data anti-counterfeiting technology, email anti-fraud system, and contract signature verification system.
Avalanche Computing, founded in 2018 and also Taipei-based, has been providing performance-optimized AI workflow for the smart medical and smart manufacturing industry. Earlier this year, it released FAST-AI, a deep learning accelerator that saves the time and cost to deploy AI solutions. According to the startup, 80% of AI specialists wasted most of their time in waiting for computing.
For a complete list of the startups participating in the event, please click here.