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Taiwan must innovate, says Mayor Ko Wen-je at 2019 Future Commerce trade show

* In his speech at the 2019 Future Commerce trade show on the morning of April 18, 2019, Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je once again emphasized that innovation is Taiwan’s only way forward. He is convinced that AI, 5G, virtual currency, and mobile payments will transform business in Taipei.

Mayor Ko said that since 2015, the Taipei City Government has held the Future Commerce trade show in collaboration with Business Next and business has kept innovating all through this period. The theme of this year's trade show is "Unlock the Limits”, referring to the Internet of Things, new finance, new retail, and new entertainment. Mayor Ko is convinced that AI, 5G, virtual currency, and mobile payments will transform business in Taipei.

Mayor Ko added that “you are limited only by your imagination.” It means that only your imagination can limit yourself. Don’t be mistaken. Just look around you and you’ll see that Taiwan is not the most advanced country in the world. If we look at what other countries have achieved, we know how far Taiwan still has to go. Taiwan must urgently catch up to enter the global top league.

Mayor Ko emphasized that he has long believed that innovation is Taiwan’s only way forward. Especially if you look at Taipei City: it has no fruit to sell, so it must rely on innovation. Taiwan basically has no oil, no gold ore, and few natural resources—but plenty of typhoons, earthquakes, and termites. The advantage of these typhoons and earthquakes is that nothing in Taiwan is lasting, which has made the Taiwanese a fast-changing people. Taiwan’s national identity embraces change, and we must encourage innovation.

Mayor Ko mentioned that after he took office, a one-stop window for start-ups was set up on the first floor of Taipei City Hall. Young people used to walk around with ideas for starting a business in their head, but after five minutes at Taipei City Hall, their enthusiasm would be completely gone because they would have to register with the Taipei City Fire Department, Taipei City Construction Management Office, Taipei City Office of Commerce, and what-not. That was deadly for people’s appetite for starting a business. So Mayor Ko later told the city government to set up a one-stop window on the first floor of Taipei City Hall, where aspiring business owners can get their questions answered and problems solved all in one spot. From the time that Mayor Ko took office, more than four years ago, subsidies to new companies have reached TWD 1.25 billion and loans to new companies have reached TWD 1.26 billion.

Mayor Ko stressed that the Taipei City Government gives a lot of support to all types of businesses but especially ICT businesses, because ICT is Taiwan’s strength and we should build on that in order to expand to other fields. In Mayor Ko’s view, Taiwan has no advantage in directly doing biotech, but it has an advantage in doing biotech that is related to ICT. So, Taipei’s strategy is to build on our strengths in ICT to expand to other fields. Therefore, the Taipei City Government is trying its best to offer a platform that allows companies to operate efficiently. That makes a big difference as we can see from the Two Trillion and Twin Star Development Programs of the National Development Council.

Mayor Ko concluded his observations and assertions by stating that the Taipei City Government will continue to do what it can to support new businesses in the city through loans and subsidies and the one-stop window to support starting up innovative companies, allowing them to operate efficiently and taking them to the next stage. Together we can do great things. So, young people in the house today: our country is counting on you!