The 2018 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Online-to-Offline Summit kicked off July 2 in southern Taiwan’s Kaohsiung City, bringing together business representatives and officials from 20 APEC member economies to discuss the latest digital opportunities and trends.

Jointly organized by the Small and Medium Enterprise Administration under the Ministry of Economic Affairs and the Kaohsiung City Government, the two-day forum aims to foster digital transformation among SMEs and new ventures from across the region through promoting integration of innovations in fields spanning artificial intelligence, augmented and virtual reality, financial technology and Internet of Things. Attendees include industry heavyweights such as Airbnb, IBM and Google as well as almost 100 startups from home and abroad, according to the ministry.

The seminar will include emerging technology presentations, international investment and networking meetings, panel discussions and pitch sessions for startups. The following day, a workshop will be staged for participants on digital resilience.

Speaking at the opening ceremony, MOEA Minister Shen Jong-chin said the summit is the largest event under the APEC O2O Initiative this year and provides an ideal platform for enterprises to share best practices on boosting growth in the digital age.

According to Shen, rapid technological development is reshaping business models for SMEs, the backbone of economic prosperity across the region. Modern solutions enable such enterprises to more readily access overseas markets, but also expose them to new risks such as cybersecurity threats, he said, adding that the seminar will help SMEs tap economic opportunities while guarding against emerging dangers.

Launched in 2015 by Taiwan in cooperation with the Philippines, the four-year APEC O2O Initiative seeks to enhance the digital competitiveness and resilience of SMEs as well as build a global network of related experts. The seminar is part of the third phase of the program, which also comprises events in Vietnam and the Philippines in August and October, respectively.

Renowned for its vibrant, internationally competitive SME sector, Taiwan is a bellwether in associated policy development as well as a global leader in digital technology and innovative entrepreneurship. Since 2003, it has proposed initiatives annually under APEC aimed at strengthening SME growth throughout the region.

According to the MOEA, these efforts are also in line with the New Southbound Policy. A key component of the government’s national development strategy, the policy seeks to deepen Taiwan’s agricultural, business, cultural, educational, tourism and trade ties with the 10 Association of Southeast Asian Nations member states, six South Asian countries, Australia and New Zealand.

〔Original :Taiwan Today〕