written on 29.07.2019

BIO Asia Taiwan 2019: Biotech as the Next Growth Engine for Asia



In a bid to highlight the island’s expertise and innovation capacity in the biotechnology sector, the 2019 BIO Asia-Taiwan Conference and Exhibition kicked off in Taipei on Thursday, 25 of July. One of the biggest biotechnology exhibitions in Asia, the event was co-organized by Taipei-based Taiwan Bio Industry Organization (TBIO) and the US-based Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO). Themed “Biotech as the Next Growth Engine for Asia,” the five-day conference features 1,700 booths with 600 local and international exhibitors showcasing their latest products and technology in biomedicine, genomics, and medical devices.

The event’s opening ceremony was attended by VIPs of the Taiwanese biotech world, namely Minister of Science and Technology Liang-gee Chen, Minister of Agriculture Chen Chi-chung , BIO president James Greenwood, and TBIO chairman Johnsee Lee. Such an important event would not be complete without the attendance of Minister Without Portfolio Wu Tsung-tsong and President Tsai Ing-Wen who delivered opening remarks to the conference’s fervent visitors.

President Tsai delivered a powerful message pledging to foster greater public-private sector collaboration in building the country into a global biomedicine leader. Similar to the admired achievements in healthcare, the president insisted that Taiwan shall make global contributions to biotechnology and show the world that “Taiwan can help.”

With the global demand growth for semiconductors slowly tapering off, Tsai’s administration has placed high priority on transforming Taiwan’s economy and biotech is expected to be one of the island’s golden geese. By bringing together Taiwan’s formidable biomedical R&D capabilities and strengths in semiconductor, software, and hardware manufacturing, the president expressed confidence in the island’s capability to achieve success. “Together,” she said, “we can take advantage of growing trends and seize opportunities to drive the development of Taiwan’s biomedical industry.”

The president said the industry has made great progress since she took office in May 2016. Having pride in Taiwan’s investment and output comes as no surprise for a former exec of Taimed – one of the island’s biotech success stories. In 2018 both industrial output and investments in the industry grew by more than five percent year-on-year. Furthermore, combined revenues for listed companies also grew a healthy 11 percent from the previous year. Perhaps the most stunning feat for Taiwan’s biomedical industry last year was the achievement of reaching a market capitalization of TWD 890.4 billion (USD 28.6 billion), making biomedicine well positioned to be Taiwan’s next “trillion-NT-dollar industry.” Case in point, Taiwan was ranked number three among 21 newcomer markets in Pugatch Consilium’s 2017 Biopharmaceutical Competitiveness and Investment Survey.

Minister Without Portfolio Wu also took an opportunity to speak at the opening ceremony, emphasizing that hosting the expo for the first time represents a significant milestone for Taiwan’s local biotechnology sector. While not necessarily in the limelight of Taiwan’s biotech push, the behind-the-scenes minister plays a critical role in coordinating a unified effort between the Ministries of Economic Affairs, Science and Technology, and Health and Welfare.

Finally, as a climax to one of the island’s biggest international networking efforts, Taiwan’s National Biotechnology Research Park inked two memorandums of understanding with Japan’s Shonan Health Innovation Park and the U.K.’s AstraZeneca – clear evidence of the exposition’s success in enhancing the island’s biotech connectivity.

In recent years, Taiwan’s government has carried out international links, built accelerators, and created new investment initiatives, all in the name of biotech, with BIO-Asia Taiwan being the latest testament to the island’s crusade to create global footprint in the industry which can not be ignored.