In her remarks at the opening ceremony of this year's BIO Asia-Taiwan Exhibition, President Tsai Ing-wen once more emphasized the medical technology and precision health industry as one of Taiwan's six core strategic industries. National Science and Technology Council (NSTC) Minister Wu Tsung-Tsong also expressed recently that NSTC will continue to serve as an engine for technological innovation in the future, supporting basic research and promoting innovation and entrepreneurship. NARLabs' Taiwan Instrument Research Institute (TIRI) under NSTC works to implement NSTC policy, and to deepen connections between industrial and academic sectors, TIRI signed a memorandum of cooperation with the National Cheng Kung University (NCKU) Innovation Headquarters on Aug. 10. The memorandum is aimed at resource sharing between industry and academia, academic and technical cooperation, and team prototyping and validation. It will promote value-added R&D technology from the academic sector and accelerate the establishment of new startups.
NCKU's Outstanding Record in Industry-Academia Collaboration and Technology Transfer
In the 2022 Times Higher Education World University Impact Rankings, NCKU ranked highest in Taiwan, second highest in Asia, and in the top 10 in the world for Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure. In addition, in the 2022 Best Universities in Taiwan ranking by Global Views Monthly magazine, NCKU was ranked second best comprehensive university in Taiwan and first for both sustainability and industry-academia collaboration.
NCKU Vice President Fong-Chin Su stated that NCKU has been investing in startup mentorship on campus since 2011. In 2020, the Startup Accelerator was established, which is dedicated to providing mentorship and expediting startup activity. The Startup Accelerator has already assisted many teams on campus in setting up their companies through the NCKU Dreams Come True project. In addition, NCKU offers assistance in research and development, technology, and human resources so that industry needs can be quickly met. It is also the only university in the country that has obtained a license to manufacture and sell medical devices, which helps commercialize R&D output and propel innovative technologies into the medical industry. In the future, through collaboration with TIRI, NCKU hopes to accelerate the process of product launch for the benefit of the public and promote industry development to increase Taiwan's global visibility.
NCKU Innovation Headquarters Director General Woei-Jer Chuang stated that NCKU has many excellent frontier R&D technologies, as well as cross-university platforms for research industrialization for 11 academic institutions in Southern Taiwan. For the process of commercialization, TIRI's specialized capabilities and resources are very much needed to assist the academic community in making cross-disciplinary technological achievements. For example, TIRI assisted in prototyping, legal and regulatory guidance, and GMP plant mass production trials for NCKU's Intelligent Health Promotion Service System. The team went from applying for a grant of NT$4.9 million to receiving a grant of NT$26.63 million through the Taiwan Germination Program, leading to the establishment of the company aiFREE. This notable example highlights how collaboration between NCKU and TIRI has been mutually successful.
Partnership Accelerates Added Value for Medical Device Innovation
In addition to signing the memorandum of cooperation, TIRI also unveiled a new office at NCKU, showing the determination of both parties to expand collaboration. The signing ceremony was witnessed NCKU Vice President Fong-Chin Su and NARLabs Vice President Bou-Wen Lin, and the memorandum was signed by NCKU Innovation Headquarters Director General Woei-Jer Chuang and TIRI Director General Yao-Joe Joseph Yang. We hope that through our strong alliance, we can reach new milestones nurturing new creative teams at the NCKU Innovation Headquarters, broaden Taiwan's global strategy, foster even more startup teams, and accelerate the pace of commercialization to bring Taiwanese brands onto the world stage.
Vice President Lin explained that NARLabs provides R&D platforms and technical services needed for domestic industry, government, academia, and research in areas including earth and environment, information & communication technology, biomedical technology, and science and technology policy, and NARLabs therefore has opportunities to collaborate with many NCKU departments and institutes. NARLabs has always particularly supported innovation and advancement of academic research technologies. For example, TIRI manages a medical device value accelerator platform which has provided guidance for many academic teams on adding value to their technologies. In addition, TIRI helps connect medical device industries and hospitals to clear the technical, validation, regulatory, and clinical hurdles faced by biomedical startups. By building innovative new ecosystems and reducing R&D costs and risks, industry-academia collaboration will accelerate, commercialization will advance, and the success rate of industry-academia integration will improve. Vice President Lin believes that through close collaboration between TIRI and the NCKU Innovation Headquarters, the biomedical industry in Taiwan, which is in active development, can be further boosted toward the international market.
TIRI Director General Yao-Joe Joseph Yang stated that the proactiveness of TIRI's mentorship team can transform the R&D achievements of academic instructors into Taiwan's next unicorn company. Opening an office at NCKU, as well as combining financial planning assistance from Ernst & Young and expertise in medical device testing and product regulations from VOLER Biotech Consulting will allow NCKU's cross-disciplinary technological achievements to be developed into new startup industries. Manufacturers can also be linked in to create even greater economic value through their leveraging power as well.