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Asia Today ISSN 1861-4604 Thursday, October 18, 2018


Revisiting Taiwan´s science-based industrial parks

National Science Council

Share on Facebook September 22, 2012, Reporter : Taiwan Today, Reader : 546



TaiwanToday: In September Taiwan’s three major science-based industrial parks, home to the semiconductor and electronics industries touted as mainstays of the country’s economy, reported year-on-year revenue drops for the first half of 2012. Officials attributed the slump to the Euro debt crisis and recessions in mainland China and the U.S., but at the same time spoke of plans for another industrial transformation.

According to the National Science Council, which administers the parks, future ones will operate under a different model for the promotion of innovation, industry-research synergy and talent incubation, focusing on sectors that consume less water and emit less carbon.

Indeed, observers have long argued that Taiwan’s science parks have expanded to the point where review of their role in economic sustainability is urgently needed.

In recent years the parks have been plagued by pollution and controversies over land expropriation and water rights, and experts have begun to examine what went wrong.

Hsu Jinn-yuh, a professor of geography at National Taiwan University, said it is a common pattern for developing countries to establish special zones with tax and labor incentives when they set out to compete in certain sectors with advanced nations.

During the 1960s, export-processing zones built in southern and central Taiwan contributed to the postwar economic boom and integration of rural areas in urban industrialization.

The model of concentrating resources on the development of strategic industries in key regions was applied when the government decided to foster the high-tech industry. In 1980, the first science park was established in Hsinchu City, chosen for its proximity to the capital city Taipei.

The government offered tax and land incentives as well as infrastructure, and streamlined administrative services for companies based in the park. In the context of a globalizing economy, the Hsinchu Science Park has produced world-renowned semiconductor manufacturers and made a name for itself as Taiwan’s Silicon Valley.

“The success of the HSP gave local governments the idea to combine land use deregulation and subsidies with industrial zoning,” Hsu said in a forum in June.

The second and third science parks were set up in Tainan and Taichung in 1995 and 2002, respectively, with the aim of creating jobs for area residents, transforming local industries and balancing regional development.

In the following years, cities and counties competed to get new such zones assigned to their jurisdictions, and science parks boomed. The three original facilities have now expanded in stages to 13 campuses spread across nearly all the counties and cities of western Taiwan.

“Except for at the HSP, the expected industrial transformation has not materialized, while the development has triggered an escalation in land prices,” Hsu said.

The Tainan-based Southern Taiwan Science Park was initially intended as an extension of the HSP, he explained, as a means to reduce regional disparity and also to keep semiconductor and electronics companies from moving to mainland China.

But while the HSP had been set up with state intervention and planning by technocrats, with the clear goal of encouraging R&D efforts by bringing in the latest technologies and top-notch professionals from abroad, businesses at the STSP became centered around one key optoelectronics corporation, thus departing from the goal of a science park as a laboratory for innovation. more...

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