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Mayor Attends 2019 Meet Taipei Startup Festival

Mayor Ko at the Meet Taipei Startup event Taipei City Mayor Ko Wen-je visited Taipei Expo Park’s Expo Dome on the morning of November 15 to attend the 2019 Meet Taipei Startup Festival. During his speech, he commented that the largest startup gathering in Asia was founded by Taiwan; now in its 6th year, this year's theme is inspired by the notion of The Startup Landscape, which aims to establish associations between accelerators, enterprises, investors, and entrepreneurs. Furthermore, venture capital resources domestic and abroad have also integrated to help global startup teams expand their businesses and enhance international exposure.

According to Ko, Business Next and Meet have long been dedicated to consolidating startup resources and assisting startup teams. The 9th Meet Neo Star is the most iconic startup competition in Taiwan; this year, the top 30 emerging startup teams were selected from over 200 startup entries. He thanked the organizers for their diligent contributions over the years because, without their efforts, Taiwan's startup industry will not be as competitive and thriving as it is today.

Mayor Ko mentioned that Taipei City is ranked 2nd in Taiwan in terms of incentives offered to startups by a government administration. He believes that to form a new culture, it is essential to begin not only from the private sector but also from within the government by cultivating a culture that can tolerate failures. When he visited the US in 2014, he met with a Stanford University professor specializing in the venture capital industry who told him that Taiwan has failed in venture capital investments because there is a misconception of maximizing success rate at all costs. As a matter of fact, 49 out of 50 venture capital firms are destined to fail; in other words, routine failures are normal and successes are considered the exception. If an environment capable of accepting failure (or an environment that is not afraid of failure) is not created, venture capital investment will never succeed. Ko commented that Taipei City's notions towards venture capital has been redefined according to this philosophy. For instance, the previous fallacy was that government does not understand the market as well as the industry, hence it should not get involved in the private sector. In light of this, Taipei City Government’s Department of Economic Development (DOED) founded the StartUP@Taipei Office in 2015, offering a one-stop startup service in hopes of keeping up venture capitalists' enthusiasm by helping them to resolve various obstacles that they may encounter along the way.

In addition, the mayor said that Taipei City Government has launched startup assistance programs including the Project of Subsidies and Incentives for Taipei Industry, Young Entrepreneurs of the Loan, and Small and Medium Enterprise of the Loan over the last 5 years, awarding over NT$1.4 billion in subsidies and loans respectively. The Taipei City Government has invested a lot of money on low-interest loans and startup incentives, and this is the main reason why Taipei City is ranked 2nd in Taiwan in terms of incentives offered to startups by a government administration.

Mayor Ko explained that 10 out of 22 startup hubs in Taipei City are already in operation, and the remaining 12 hubs will be completed and become operational over the next several years. The Taipei City Government has no political predispositions but to provide youths with startup hubs in accordance with the needs of the industry.

He elaborated that the DOED was also the first municipal department in Taiwan to launch the Subsidies for Startup Teams to Participate in Overseas Startup Projects in 2016, offering a maximum of NT$500,000 for startups with a history of less than 5 years to participate in overseas events (covering expenses such as airfare, admission fees, booth fees, booth decoration fees, and tuition fees). So far, 76 applications from 57 startups have already been approved, awarding more than NT$14 million in subsidies. The aim of the project is not only to attract overseas startup teams but to let domestic startup teams travel abroad and be seen internationally.

The 2019 Taipei Int’l Startup Week will be held from November 12 through 17, featuring activities such as forums, Demo Days, exhibitions, and award ceremonies, etc. It is a privilege to host major exhibitions such as Meet Taipei Startup Festival, POP UP ASIA, and DCS International Entrepreneurship Congress 2019 with private organizations including Business Next, C+ Culture, and Distinguished Citizens Society of R.O.C. Mayor Ko pointed out with a smile that the host mentioned this year's exhibition booth number has exceeded 400 - more than the Expo Dome can accommodate - therefore, the organizers will have to think hard about where to host the event next year if the venue's capacity has been reached.

Lastly, Mayor Ko expressed his thanks to the startup teams and reiterated that innovation is the only way out for Taiwan. Through innovation, Taiwan will be endowed with a brighter future, thus Taipei City Government will strive to achieve this goal through public-private partnerships.