Taiwan’s Path to Innovative R&D and Applications: “Technology-Driven” and “Location-Driven” Pilot Programs

Pei-Chen Tsai, Shang-Hui Lin


Regional Pilot Programs: The New Lab for Innovation and Research

Pilot program has become a recent buzz term in the media and in business circles, especially in China where Taiwan is forging increasingly closer ties. Armed with massive regional markets, the pilot programs in China have attracted the earnest attention of multinational companies and government agencies hoping to expand their markets and improve industry development by participating in the early-stages of development.

A pilot program usually refers to the development of a new product or application for a technical concept, or to the experimental operations of new business models, service models, policies, or systems in a specific region. The programs usually range in size from family or hospital use, to that of a community or city, with user feedback serving as a basis for subsequent improvement. This concept is similar in spirit and function to Living Labs, which were proposed by Massachusetts Institute of Technology Professor William Mitchell and have sparked a wave of innovative R&D and applications in Europe, the U.S., Japan, Korea, as well as in other countries. Both concepts emphasize employing a user-centered research method in various experience tests by observing users in live scenarios and using feedback from users as they interact with stakeholders including governments, private enterprises, research organizations, and communities to co-create value in the early-stages of innovation and creation, ultimately resulting in market-ready products or services.

In recent years, Taiwanese organizations, such as the National Science Council, Institute for Information Industry, National Taiwan University, National Chiao Tung University, and National Cheng Kung University, have invested in and promoted user-centered smart living labs. The Ministry of Economic Affairs’ Smart Living Technology & Service Program (i236) is aimed at developing Smart Towns and Intelligent Parks in the pilot areas (test-beds) of Songshan, Nantou Puli, Yilan, Taichung, and Kaohsiung. If proven successful, they can serve as regional models for industrialization, where the results will multiply and bring Taiwan closer to the long-term goals of raising industrial value and expanding into global markets.



Regional Pilot Programs; Technology-Driven; Location-Driven; Living Labs

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