When Asia’s biggest hardware technology show opens in Taipei next month, attention won’t go just to new PCs, as in the past. A growing section of the master 2018 Computex Taipei event called InnoVEX will play up cross-border business-to-business links and help startups get access to venture capital.
Behind all of it, exhibitors will focus largely on designs that use artificial Intelligence, a new trend in high-tech that means teaching computers to think like people.
Organizers of Computex 2018 held a news conference May 15 to preview InnoVEX.
InnoVEX will draw 388 startups from 21 countries, said Walter Yeh, president of event organizer the Taiwan External Trade Development Council, or TAITRA. He expects InnoVEX to let Taiwan’s startups form ties with peers in other countries.
The number of country pavilions will grow this year to 13.
Several European country pavilions will host pitch competitions to give their talent a platform to showcase their products to investors at the event in the hope of finding more funds.
A spokeswoman for Business France , which promotes French companies and helps them find commercial partners abroad, says its pavilion will hold 90-minute a pitch session June 6.
Its delegation’s startups, which are visiting from France, will present proposals to a live audience. Though the session is not a competition, organizers say the exposure it brings should enable the French startups to find extra capital from investors.
“It is the perfect way to learn more about the French startup ecosystem and what possible opportunities are available,” the spokeswoman said.
The Netherlands Trade and Investment Office in Taiwan will hold matchmaking sessions and happy hours at their pavilion June 6.
Sixteen star startups from the Netherlands will attend, each picked for its compatibility with the Taiwanese tech industry. One firm is Lightyear, the developer of an electric car charged by solar energy via receptors built into the vehicle.
The Dutch government counts Computex as its only strategic expo in Asia, said Diederik van der Toorn, a consultant for trade and investment office.
Audi Taiwan will announce the winner of an award on June 7, a company official told the news conference. The Audi Innovation Award, including sums of money, will go to Taiwanese startups with products or services related to mobility.
Startups meet investors
To help pair startups with investors, InnoVEX will feature Pi Stage, a physical exhibition platform for startup founders and other companies. Venture capital investors will get extra exposure at this year’s event, which will also help participants make connections among themselves, which may include partnerships for product development, Yeh said.
On the venture capital side, Alibaba Entrepreneurs Fund, well-known for investing heavily in young startups, attending Innovex for the first times this year.
Lee Ru-yuan of Garage+, a Taipei-based incubator founded by Epoch Fund, said the organization had selected 76 startups from a total of 591 applicants for its Global Startup Program. As part of a 10-day tour of Taiwan, the startups will meet one-on-one with key industry players at Computex and make site visits to find supply chain partners.
One-third of the Garage+ participating startups found business deals and investors at the 2017 event, a ratio it aims to sustain or exceed this year. “If you are aware of your strengths, you don’t need to worry about the world not noticing you,” Lee said.
Artificial intelligence on display
About a third of overseas startups at InnoVEX this year work with artificial intelligence, or AI, Yeh said. He said the event organizers had pushed to increase this count.
One will be U.K.-based data analytics and AI-internet of things firm NQM.AI. The Canadian startup Invision AI will attend, too, to show real-time video analytics for IP cameras.
“InnoVEX is the most important platform Taiwan has for connecting its startups with the outside world,” Yeh said.