Taiwan Biotech Industry Heats Up

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Biotech is hot in Taiwan, with a number of high profile companies emerging over the past few years with significant market capitalizations on the promise of bold new drugs and the incoming administration of Tsai Ing-wen promising even greater support.

At the AmCham Medical Devices, Pharmaceutical, and Public Health Joint Committee Luncheon on April 19, Dr. Chi Wei-kuang, Director and Distinguished Scientist of Bioengineering Group at the Development Center for Biotechnology (DCB) shared “Taiwan’s vision and current stage in biotech industry.”

Some key takeaways offered by Dr. Chi include:

  • Taiwanese firms are involved in both the production of conventional “small molecule” pharmaceuticals as well as the development of cutting edge “large molecule” biological drugs derived from cells
  • Taiwan’s biotech firms include Taimed, Medigen, TaiGen, TopoGenomics, TTY Biopharma and many others with a combined market cap of US$23 billion
  • Taiwan currently has 96 drugs in the development pipeline, over half of them in Stage 2 clinical trials
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Dr. Chi Wei-kuang presents the Taiwan biotech industry’s “Diamond Action Plan” to AmCham Taipei leaders.

The newer field of Biological drugs is seen as offering highest value with lower capital investment and operating costs, where key areas for drug development include oncology, central nervous system (CNS) disease, infectious disease, and inflammation and autoimmune diseases.

Since the early 1980s Taiwan’s government has been offering support to the biotech industry through a number of policies and organizations, but major funding for the industry only occurred over the last 5-6 years.

Key policies to watch for the Taiwan Biotech Industry:

  • Statute for the Development of Biotech New Drug Industry
  • Biotech Industry Takeoff Action Plan
  • Diamond Action Plan for Biotech Takeoff

Key organizations involved in the industry’s advancement

  • Development Center for Biotechnology (DCB)
  • Taiwan Food and Drug Administration (TFDA)
  • Biomedical Engineering Research Center (ITRI)

Funded by the Ministry of Economic Affairs, Taiwan’s DCB offers support bridging the gap between primary research and drug commercialization. The National Research Program for Biopharmaceuticals will expire in 2016, but will be replaced by the BioEconomy Plan.

Taiwanese biotech firms, though small, are highly innovative and are actively collaborating with foreign firms for advanced clinical trials and drug development. Continued government support is vital for the industry to fulfill its vision.

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AmCham Taipei Vice Chairwoman Libby Driscoll (left) and Chairman Dan Silver (right) present Chi Wei-kuang with a token of appreciation following his presentation.

Tips and Tricks from Facebook: How to Reach your Audience

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Katie Harbath, Global Head of Politics and Government Outreach, Facebook spoke to AmCham members and guests at a special luncheon March 31 at the Sherwood Taipei.

Harbath, formerly a digital political strategist in the United States before joining Facebook, offered a wealth of insights for how to build meaningful connections and engagement on Facebook for politicians, companies, and other organizations.

Steps to Building a Facebook strategy:

  • Identify your goals. Reach, video views, engagement, list building? “You have to make sure that you are optimizing for the things that are most important to you.”
  • Determine your branding point of view. “What are the attributes that you want people to take away? Does the content that you are putting out match those attributes.”
  • Combine social media with traditional media strategies. These two departments should not be separate. More and more people are getting their news through Facebook, but that is still from traditional news sources.”
  • Focus on good content. “Sometimes I see people making the mistake of getting really excited about all of our targeting tools and all the different ways they can reach different audiences but they don’t focus on the fundamentals of making sure they’ve got great content.”
  • Engage your fans. “People respond a lot more when they know there’s somebody on the other side of that page listening to them and actually respond and engage with them.”
  • Test, iterate, improve, repeat. “At Facebook, we have to keep constantly evolving because how people are consuming content is evolving. And so you also have to think about your own strategies to make sure you are reaching people the way they want to be reached.”

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Taiwan’s Role in the Future of Computer Memory

Micron CEO Mark Durcan addresses AmCham Taipei Guests at a Special Luncheon on March 10 regarding the semiconductor industry in Taiwan

Micron Technology CEO Mark Durcan spoke to AmCham Taipei guests on March 10 at a special Global Executive Insights luncheon, offering a wealth of knowledge about future trends in the global computer memory industry and a clear summary of why Taiwan plays such a large role in the sector. Durcan’s full presentation is available below.

2015 Semiconductor Market Breakdown

Durcan stressed three major trends in the memory segment of the semiconductor industry:

1. Supplier consolidation:

Major semiconductor manufacturers continue to consolidate through mergers and acquisitions.

2. Diversification of end markets

During the dotcom boom and bust over 70% of memory was dedicated to PC applications. Today only 25% goes to PCs, while demand for memory in mobile devices and server/cloud applications soars. Significant growth for memory demand can also be seen in other advanced fields:

  • Automotive: crash avoidance technology
  • Medical: advanced diagnostics
  • Graphics: augmented/virtual reality and gaming

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3. Slowing supply growth

While demand growth for memory (measured in bits) continues to rise, the amount of new bits that can be produced each year by the industry through advances in existing technology is plateauing.

The result is a gradual shift away from supplying memory products to major OEMs, towards a diversified end market – and an increasing demand for more customized, innovative memory solutions for individual customers.

Looking forward

Due to the slowing technology-driven scaling of existing memory types (NAND and DRAM), Micron has begun to explore the development of new memory products, including:

3D NAND – a new configuration of existing NAND memory chips has tripled the capacity of existing NAND products, allowing 3.5TB to be stored in a space the size of a stick of gum while greatly reducing power consumption

3D Xpoint – An entirely new type of memory (the first in decades), Durcan claims that 3D Xpoint has the potential to dramatically transform computing architectures, boasting speeds and densities 1000x greater than those of NAND.

Taiwan’s Role

Micron, one of the world’s largest semiconductor manufacturers, produces 60% of it’s DRAM memory chips in Taiwan alone. Since 2008, Micron has invested US$8bn in Taiwan, with another $4bn pending the completion of their acquisition of Inotera. Durcan stressed repeatedly the importance of Taiwan to the success of Micron’s semiconductor business, highlighting several key factors that contribute to its optimal business environment:

  • Advanced education programs produce a high quality talent pool, with experience in semiconductor technology and strong work ethic
  • A Supportive and business-friendly government and regulatory environment.
  • A strong, quality-focused technology manufacturing ecosystem that drives a cost-competitive environment, as well as a high-quality test and assembly infrastructure
  • Proximity to large markets such as China, with engineers and other talent who speak the same language and live in the same time zone as customers from these markets
  • Historically affordable energy costs

AmCham Taipei would like to thank Mark Durcan and Micron for their time and willingness to share their insight with the Taiwan business community at this AmCham Special Luncheon.