中文 | Eng
Some things don’t need innovation, like Taiwan’s famous beef noodles. But there are plenty of other things can be improved upon – including how people move around cities.
The need to embrace change and technology was clearly recognized by the government leaders and tech startup founders I met on a recent, all-too-short 24 hours on the island. I was also struck by their passion and commitment to building on Taiwan’s past successes and creating Asia’s ‘Silicon Valley’.
Here are a few thoughts based on my discussions with the island’s tech and political community.
- There is a vibrant startup scene with bright industry leaders – Taiwan has come a long way in building on its legacy as a tech hub. I was impressed by the founders and entrepreneurs I met that are shaping Taiwan’s future and looking to expand their footprint to rest of Asia and beyond.
- The government has a clear vision to promote technology – President Tsai is focused on economic growth, and recognizes that innovation is vital to this goal. By promoting the island as “Asia’s Silicon Valley” and appointing a digital minister, the administration is showing its commitment to carving out a tech-friendly policy environment for startups to thrive.
- Policy uncertainty is a challenge for the tech industry – There is a disconnect between the government’s focus on new industries and its policymaking around innovation. Rapidly evolving technologies and business models call for policies that offer guiding principles rather than prescriptive regulations. Often, regulations aren’t adjusted to accommodate innovation. The recent proposed increase of fines on Uber’s driver-partners to US$800,000 is the largest fine ever proposed anywhere in the world and will have a chilling effect on innovation, which runs counter to measures aimed at making Taiwan more progressive.
I had a good discussion with Digital Minister Audrey Tang. We talked about how Uber can partner with the government in bringing innovation to Taiwan and help establishing it as Asia’s Silicon Valley. While we differed on the details of the newly-proposed multi-purpose taxi scheme, there was clear agreement that ridesharing is beneficial and policies should embrace innovation. Many countries around the world have put in place smart regulations for ridesharing, providing economic opportunities to driver-partners, including local taxi drivers. There is no reason why Taiwan shouldn’t be among them.
Similarly, we had a positive conversation with Taipei City Mayor Ko Wen-je on how Uber can be a partner in making Taipei a better city.
Taiwan has huge potential, and I am confident that the next time I visit it will be to celebrate the island’s embrace of an urban mobility model that recognizes technology. Just don’t disrupt those noodles in the meantime.