The Global Business Innovation Programme’s visit to Taiwan

Technician in sterile coverall holds wafer that reflects many different colors with gloves and check it at semiconductor manufacturing plant

Innovate UK supports UK businesses to forge collaborations with Taiwan’s world-leading semiconductor sector.

Through its Global Business Innovation Programme (GBIP), Innovate UK has been helping a cohort of 12 innovative UK semiconductor businesses to forge collaboration partnerships with Taiwan’s world-leading semiconductor sector.

Semiconductors are an essential component of the electronic devices that are indispensable and ubiquitous in the world around us, enabling communications, computing, healthcare, transportation, clean energy, and countless other applications.

International collaboration

With particular strength in silicon wafers, Taiwan manufactures over 60% of the world’s semiconductors. The UK possesses strengths in compound semiconductors and emerging semiconductor materials, design and intellectual property. With these complementary strengths, the UK and Taiwan are natural collaboration partners.

With the launch of the UK government’s £1 billion semiconductor strategy in May 2023, the innovation visit to Taiwan as part of the GBIP was well timed. The visit highlighted the UK’s commitment to growing its strengths in this field and using international collaboration to achieve its ambitions.

It was also an opportunity to follow up on the memorandum of understanding signed by Innovate UK and the Department of Industrial Technology, Ministry of Economic Affairs, and to continue to build relationships including with the Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI). ITRI will, alongside Innovate UK, deliver the UK-Taiwan research and development (R&D) competition over the next three years.

Benefits of a pre-visit workshop

Innovate UK carefully selected the GBIP delegation which featured 12 of the UK’s most ambitious semiconductor businesses. They benefited from a pre-visit workshop to hone their pitching skills connect with other delegates and prepare for the Taiwanese business culture.

The workshop enabled them to discuss the itinerary which included roundtable discussions with Taiwanese universities and research institutes, speaker slots at SEMICON and B2B meetings with leading Taiwan semiconductor companies.

Dr Mirella Koleva, CEO, Quantopticon said:

The pre-visit workshop was critical in helping to fine tune our message.

We’re used to working in a very niche, jargon-heavy industry, so having third-party feedback on how we can appeal to adjacent industries was very helpful.

With a busy agenda ahead, the GBIP innovation visit began with a visit to ITRI, Innovate UK’s partner in Taiwan. Delegates met with researchers specialising in power electronics and telecommunications and presented their technologies in pitching sessions and targeted B2B meetings with leading Taiwan semiconductor companies, such as PSMC.

Iain McGregor, Director, Thermco Systems said:

In preparation for the GBIP, we’d already discussed a partnership with a Taiwanese company. But we knew it wasn’t going to be a simple transition from initial concept to industrial application.

Having the knowledge that ITRI is there to support as a potential steppingstone and enable that progression into manufacturing has been invaluable.

Exhibiting on the UK pavilion at SEMICON

Days two and three saw the delegates exhibit at the UK’s first ever pavilion at SEMICON the world’s premier and most influential semiconductor event in Taiwan. In addition to Innovate UK’s delegates, the UK pavilion also hosted companies supported by the Department for Business and Trade.

The cohort took to the stage at TechXpot, pitching their technologies to other delegates, demonstrating why the UK is a partner of choice in compound semiconductors, quantum, and photonics.

Dr Marko von der Leyen, CTO, Quantum Dice said:

Exhibiting at the UK Pavilion gave us instant kudos and credibility.

The industry clearly recognises that the UK has exceptional strengths in specific fields, and that’s been drawing some very interesting potential partners throughout both days, it’s been great.

On a very busy final day, delegates visited the Taiwan Tech Arena, meeting with a vibrant community of startup companies before heading on for a tour of The Taiwan Semiconductor Research Institute (TSRI). The day culminated in presentations and networking at the National Yang Ming Chiao Tung University (NYCU).

Michael Mawby, Director, KuasaSemi said:

NYCU provided an introduction to researchers at Foxconn who were extremely interested in working with us and gave some useful ideas on features we could add to our product.

It was also interesting to hear about their experience of using our competitors’ products. And reassuring to learn that their frustrations matched our assessment, and that we’re on the right track to solving those issues.

Accelerating collaboration

Overall, the visit has been a springboard to accelerating collaboration in Taiwan.

Helen Duncan, CMO, Blueshift Memory said:

From a business point of view, it’s been a really successful visit.

I’ve made some contacts in tier two and three member manufacturers, which are exactly our target audience; some were even more keen to meet me than I was to meet them!

I’m confident that at least one of my four good contacts will turn into a business relationship. We’ve already got an NDA in place with one of them and have set up meetings with others. I’m very optimistic about the outcome from this visit.

Next month, delegates will benefit from a follow-up exploitation workshop and on-going support from an Innovate UK EDGE innovation and growth specialist. They will help exploit the contacts, opportunities and knowledge gained during the visit and to help the companies build consortia for the next UK-Taiwan bilateral R&D funding opportunity.

There was a genuine sense and optimism throughout the week that Taiwan sees distinct synergies with the UK. The UK businesses certainly felt encouraged by the interest shown and desire to follow up on initial promising conversations.

Second delegation in 2024

Innovate UK will be looking to follow up on the success of this first semiconductor GBIP and build on relationships forged during this visit by returning to Taiwan. A second delegation of leading UK semiconductor businesses will visit in 2024 to explore more opportunities for collaboration.

To learn more about GBIP opportunities, and Innovate UK’s game-changing growth support services, visit the Innovate UK EDGE website or contact us to speak with a local innovation and growth specialist.

Video credit: Innovate UK 
Video transcript and on-screen captions are available by watching on YouTube.

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