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Taiwan Tech Successful in U-start Plan for Innovation and Entrepreneurship
Taiwan Tech is living up to its reputation of being one of Taiwan's most entrepreneurial universities. For a second year in a row, ten Taiwan Tech student teams managed to convince jurors of the U-start Plan for Innovation and Entrepreneurship with their innovative business ideas. Out of the 75 student teams from all over Taiwan that were successful in the first round of the 2020 U-start contest, ten were from Taiwan Tech, more than from any other institution: 
 
Number  IInstitution of Team
10 National Taiwan University of Science and Technology 
6 I-Shou University 
5 Southern Taiwan University of Science and Technology
4 National Yunlin University of Science and Technology
4 National Kaohsiung University of Science and Technology

 

The U-start Plan for Innovation and Entrepreneurship Project, which was launched by the Ministry of Education in 2007, aims to nurture a culture of entrepreneurship in Taiwan's higher education institutions. The project encourages students, including international students, to present innovative business ideas in four categories, i.e. Manufacturing Technology, Innovative Services, Cultural and Creative Education, and Social Enterprises.

 
U-start offers funding of 350, 000 NTD (US$ 11,500) for each of the 75 teams that made it to the first stage, and another 150,000 NTD (US$ 5000) per team will go to on-campus incubation centers which support the students in preparing their projects.  
 
A closer look at the Taiwan Tech projects that made it into this year's first round reveals an astonishing variety of projects: Taiwan Tech students were successful in all four categories, with one  team in Manufacturing Technology, 5 teams in  Innovative Services 3 teams in Cultural and Creative Education, and 1 team in  Social Enterprises. Among the proposals were specialized e-commerce and online education platforms, a CNC 3D Dyeing Coating Machine to improve communication between designers and colorists, a marketing scheme for traditional seafood snacks for fishing communities in Eastern Taiwan and others.
 
"In the first round of the competition, we see a lot fresh, often unusual ideas that need to mature," said Jason Cheng, CEO of Taiwan Tech Incubation Center, who has coached the Taiwan Tech student teams to prepare their pitches. "Only a few of the projects will have the stamina and the skills to make it into the second round, but participating in this competition is an absolutely valuable experience, irrespective of the final result.”
 
An example from last year shows the potential for development that some of the projects might have. The second stage of U-start which comes with a steep requirement - Teams have to set up their own company. In2019, only 18 teams survived the tough selection process, four of which were mentored by the Taiwan Tech Incubation Centre. Among them was Tensor Tech CO., LTD., a start-up in the field of satellite Technology. The firm was founded by Austin Chang, Sam Lee, Luke Hou, and Thomas Yen, who were college students at Taiwan Tech, National Sun-yat Sen University, National Taiwan University, or even at high-school then. The young entrepreneurs combined their strengths in business, electrical and software engineering, design and manufacturing to develop a spherical motor for satellites that is 1/3 more efficient than traditional systems. 
 
 
During the second stage of U-start, teams receive another startup award (up to US$32,000) and they are invited to join on-site visit to companies, business seminars, and start-up workshops.
 
Thus, for the ten Taiwan Tech Teams, who were among the winners of the first round, a lot of work is lying ahead. But the efforts will be definitely worthwhile. As Jason Cheng said, the process of participating in this start-up contest is as valuable 
 
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