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Trip to Hsinchu County: Meeting with county magistrate and tour of ITRI

On 20 March, the ECCT arranged a visit to Hsinchu Country. The trip was part of the ECCT's ongoing efforts to expand activities to include cities and counties across Taiwan. The trip included a meeting and lunch with Hsinchu County Magistrate (equivalent to mayor) Chiu Ching-chun and senior government officials and a tour of Taiwan's most prestigious research and development incubator, the Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI).
Meeting with Hsinchu County government officials
The meeting was arranged by the ECCT's Low Carbon Initiative (LCI) to discuss cooperation with the Hsinchu County government on promoting low carbon development in Hsinchu County. The ECCT delegation was headed by ECCT Vice Chairman Giuseppe Izzo, who is also the LCI representative on the ECCT's board of directors, CEO Freddie Hoeglund and LCI Director Raoul Kubitschek. Magistrate Chui was accompanied by senior county government officials including Yang Wen-ke, Secretary General of the Hsinchu County Government and Huang Shih-han, Director-General of the Environmental Protection Bureau. The meeting was attended by several LCI members.At the meeting the ECCT CEO gave a short introduction to the ECCT while the Vice Chairman and LCI Director introduced the LCI. Magistrate Chui welcomed ECCT delegates to his county. He lauded the contribution of Europeans to Taiwan's development through trade and investment. He went on to highlight some of the many advantages of conducting R&D and doing business in Hsinchu County. These include an efficient transport network (access to the high speed rail and major highways), the presence of the main ITRI campus as well as major university campuses and close proximity to the Hsinchu Science Park. The presence of ITRI, the Hsinchu Science Park and top universities (and talent) has made Hsinchu County a magnet for corporations engaged in R&D. While the high tech industry is well-known, there is now a move to promote emerging industries such as biomedical, green energy and culture and creative industries. European companies have already invested in the county's biomedical park.Hsinchu County is promoting low carbon development through various initiatives such as installing solar panels on public facilities and introducing electric buses. The county is now seeking investors to establish operations in the Hsinchu International Environmental Education Park project and welcomed ECCT LCI members to participate. At the conclusion of the meeting, the ECCT presented a copy of the LCI's recently-released report "The Path to Industrial Energy Efficiency in Taiwan - Partnering with the EU" to Magistrate Chiu.Lunch with Magistrate Chiu
Immediately following the meeting between the Hsinchu County government and the ECCT, a lunch was held with Hsinchu County Magistrate Chiu as the guest of honour. It was attended by around 40 guests including ECCT and Hsinchu county delegates from the meeting and ECCT members, including representatives from European trade offices from Belgium, Luxembourg and Austria and corporate members doing or interested in doing business in Hsinchu County. At the lunch, Magistrate Chiu made brief remarks during which he warmly welcomed ECCT members to visit and invest in the county. Magistrate Chiu also said he welcomed suggestions from the ECCT on how to increase the level of low carbon development in his county in cooperation with the ECCT, referring to the LCI report he had received earlier.

Also at the lunch Dr Frank Chen, Director of ITRI's International Center gave a short speech, in which he introduced his institute. ITRI is a non-profit R&D organization engaged in applied research and technical services. Founded in 1973, ITRI played a vital role in transforming Taiwan's economy into a high-tech hub. ITRI continues to play a vital role in commercializing ideas and technologies. It does so by helping to nurture and develop new ideas and technologies into useful products and services and then bringing together business development experts and venture capitalists to turn these into viable business ventures.

ITRI is also Taiwan's best known talent incubator. ITRI employs more than 6,000 people, 65% of whom have masters or PhD degrees. Many of its employees end up working for start-up companies spun off from ITRI. The ITRI model has an extremely successful track record. ITRI is seen as a trusted partner by business groups and venture capitalists. If ITRI backs a project, business partners are very likely to join as partners to develop business plans and provide venture capital. Numerous well-known, high-tech companies in Taiwan such as leaders in the semiconductor industry, TSMC and UMC, can trace their origins to ITRI. In 2014 alone there were 14 spin-offs. In order to replenish the talent pool (after people leave to join start-ups), ITRI has cooperation programmes with six of Taiwan's major universities.

Europeans have also played a role in Taiwan's high tech renaissance. For example, the Dutch company Philips was initially a primary investor and technology partner of TSMC. Today European companies (including ECCT LCI member Evonik) and Oxford Instruments from the UK have labs in ITRI while many other European companies have other types of cooperation with ITRI. In recent years ITRI has set up offices in Europe and is fostering cooperation in areas such as advanced manufacturing (so-called Industry 4.0), solutions for aging societies and research in the next (fifth) generation of mobile telecommunications. ITRI is actively seeking cooperation with European SMEs with funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 programme and welcomes cooperation with the ECCT in bringing European and Taiwanese SMEs together.

ITRI focuses on six research fields. Now that the information and communications, electronics and optoelectronics industries have reached a mature phase, ITRI is placing more focus on the next potential growth areas, namely nanotechnology, biotech, medical devices and biomedical, green energy and the environment. In addition, ITRI set up a cloud computing centre five years ago focused on developing cloud servers and related systems. Two years ago, ITRI set up a centre to work on developing intelligent (big data) systems. Over the years ITRI has accumulated some 20,000 patents and is adding an average of six patents every day.

Tour of ITRI
After lunch guests travelled to ITRI's main campus in Hsinchu County. The visit began with introductory presentations about ITRI and its activities and ended with a tour of the campus, including its new main showroom and electric vehicle showroom. The delegation was hosted by Dr Chang Shuo-hung, Executive Vice President of ITRI, who welcomed further collaboration with ECCT member companies. In the tour of ITRI's showrooms, visitors saw some of the newest technologies that have been developed by ITRI, including thermo-electric energy harvesting, solar slide lighters, heat-resistant material, water purification systems and electric vehicle power train, batteries and battery charging stations.