U.S. Encouragement for Taiwan Startup Culture

State Department official brings message of entrepreneurship and innovation.

The U.S. State Department’s Acting Representative for Global Partnerships, Thomas Debass, took part in a series of programs during a visit to Taiwan in mid-November in connection with Global Entrepreneurship Week. In line with Taiwan’s objective of developing an “Asian Silicon Valley” to promote innovative industries, he encouraged Taiwan in its efforts to create a startup ecosystem and foster public-private partnerships.

Speaking at the startup community event Meet Taipei 2016, Debass noted Taiwan’s existing strengths in terms of entrepreneurial spirit, creativity, and wealth of talent in the technology sector. If Taiwan wishes to create its own version of Silicon Valley, he said, “it needs to harness and grow from the ground up what is already here, continue to foster the talent and innovation you already have in place, and then build connections with innovators around the world, in particular, in the United States and Southeast Asia.”

Debass also emphasized the importance of a favorable regulatory environment. “Our message to Taiwan and to economies around the world,” he said, “is that an open minded approach to regulation encourages innovation and entrepreneurship not just in large corporate headquarters but also in small businesses and at a grass-roots level, to enable people across an entire economy to participate in economic activities in new ways.”

During a discussion at the AmCham Taipei office, Debass said he hopes that more leading American corporations operating in Taiwan will “play an affinity role” in the creation of a favorable environment for startups. Besides direct commercial benefits in terms to potential future acquisitions and licensing opportunities, the development of a vibrant startup ecosystem can make for a more dynamic market for everyone’s benefit.

Again referring to Taiwan’s existing advantages, he said “the ingredients are all here – you just need to find a way to jumpstart the process.” He stressed that “Silicon Valley,” above all else is a “state of mind.” Bricks and mortar buildings are far less important than cultivating an atmosphere that stimulates creativity.