The National Development Council has launched an office to manage a US$3.3 billion (NT$100 billion) fund it is sponsoring that helps small and medium-sized companies upgrade and innovate their technologies.

At the launch of the Industrial Innovation and Transformation Fund Project Office at the end of July, NDC Minister Chen Mei-ling said the fund was for helping small and medium-sized enterprises in the country boost competitiveness and productivity in the global markets.

“Taiwan’s over 1.4 million small and medium-sized enterprises — SMEs — are the backbone of our economic development,” Chen said.

Chen expressed hope that the new office would manage the fund, created over a year ago, more effectively.

The new office will be headed by Chou Shya-li, the director-general of the Taiwan Institute of Economic Research, a private economic think tank, and overall will be managed by the institute.

“The NT$100-billion Industrial Innovation and Transformation Fund has been promoted for over a year. So far, we have not allocated this fund as effectively as we wanted to. Perhaps it’s because of a lack of effective marketing strategies,” Chen said.

She added that only four projects had benefited from the fund since it was created. Now that the office is established, she said, she hoped the fund would be depleted in a year’s time.

The fund is for investments in companies that are looking at mergers and acquisitions, spin-offs and transformation of their business models. The goal is to encourage Taiwanese companies upgrade and adopt new technologies at a faster pace.

“The Taiwan Institute of Economic Research is going to build up a team of experts, advisors and mentors from different industries who will provide consulting and mentorship to (successful) applicants of the Industrial Innovation and Transformation Fund,”Chou said.

She showed a picture of the team members who will help run the office.Chou said that one of the priority tasks for the team is to actively look for potential applicants.

“We have invited many industry leaders, experts, lawyers, accountants and mentors from the ecosystem in the past few months to offer consulting services when (reviewing applications for) the NDC fund,”Chou said.

She noted that the team will not only search for potential applicants and help them go through application and review process, but also follow up on their progress and assess their performance. This will make sure that the fund is effectively used throughout the entire process, she said.

Chou urged those interested in applying to contact the team.

〔Original :Meet Startup @ TW〕