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StarFab builds up thematic entrepreneurship ecosystems for precisely matching enterprises with startups

Ambrose Huang, DIGITIMES, Taipei 0

StarFab chairman and CEO Amanda Liu. Credit: StarFab

StarFab Accelerator, with team members having scientific, technological and industrial background to understand Taiwan's ICT industrial advantages as well as innovation as a core, aims to integrate various domains of ICT to create business value. The so-called innovation, besides successful acceleration of individual startups, is essentially to create complete entrepreneurship ecosystems to let enterprises' experience in various domains commercialize startups' innovative technologies, a bid to combine the mission of helping startups grow fast with StarFab's expertise, according to StarFab chairman and CEO Amanda Liu.

The Innovation Super Highway proposed by StaFab is to build up various thematic entrepreneurship ecosystems for precisely linking enterprises to startups, with targets of acceleration being not only startups but also innovation itself.

Business accelerators precisely match enterprises with startups for enterprises' upgrading business operation

The match-making model of cooperation enables enterprises to more efficiently find right startups for cooperation in innovation as well as momentum for growth in their business anew.

Larger enterprises are likely to more strictly assess risks concerning startups. However, strict assessment may screen out startups with real potential. Professional business accelerators' strict screening allows enterprises to find cooperative startups without organizational adjustment. This is likened to the situation that business accelerators let enterprises deploy sensors to detect trends and development of business models for innovation at any time and then use own core capabilities and resources in chosen models of cooperation with startups.

Via cooperation with startups, enterprises can catch new business opportunities and decrease risks incurred to development of innovative products/services.

Many international enterprises including Qualcomm, Disney and Microsoft, by virtue of business accelerators' directive assistance, have had their business units precisely matched with startups for cooperation to develop innovative products/services and, furthermore, have made strategic investment in cooperative startups to develop new business. This has encouraged some of Taiwan-based large enterprises to capitalize on business accelerators for precise linking with startups, and they have scored points. Consequently, many Taiwan-based large enterprises have taken increasingly open and active attitudes toward cooperation with startups.

StarFab accelerates startups having tried business models

For startups, business accelerators are a platform for fast growth. As compared with incubators which help startups organize teams, establish companies and decide on business models, StarFab helps such startups that have tried business models but lack experience needed to make business and organization grow.

Startups' growth, likened to airplanes' takeoff which is the most resource-consuming process, is the stage in which StarFab concentrates help. StarFab provides startups in the stage with efficient business linkage, precise matching to enable decided business models to convert innovative technologies and ideas into feasible solutions. In addition, StarFab helps startups find key users of such solutions which will definitely play a key role of helping startups attract strategic investors in the next fund-raising round.

In the process of helping startups, StarFab gives importance to letting startups recognize own core capabilities. Startups are on a cooperative basis with enterprises rather than become new OEMs or ODMs for enterprises. While playing a bridge between startups and cooperative enterprises, StarFab acts from the viewpoint of startups with actual core capabilities and, in addition, StarFab's operational mechanism even has enterprises practice reverse pitch.

Accelerating entrepreneurship environment more important than accelerating startups

For business operation, accelerators have to check own advantages and focus on those that can help startups grow fast, the way of creating accelerators' value. As accelerators cannot merely rely on government sources of funds, they should have unique approaches to attracting startups for cooperation.

Overseas business models for accelerators cannot be completely duplicated in Taiwan. For example, many Silicon Valley-based accelerators help startups through exchanging counseling services for stock shares of cooperative startups, but this business model is not feasible in Taiwan due to regulations on investment and small capital market. If the model is transferred to Taiwan, there is likely to be no opportunities for accelerators' exit. Establishment of a complete ecosystem for providing counseling services for startups should be based on the model that accelerators' resources and cooperative startups' complement each other and both sides share fruition.

Taiwan accelerators need to focus on internationally credited capability to become world-class hub of startups

Thematic entrepreneurship ecosystems are key to creation of appropriate environment for accelerating startups, such as theme of information security in Israel, that of software in Silicon Valley and that of FinTech in Zhongguancun Science in northern China. For Taiwan to become one of globally important hubs of startups, it is necessary to focus on internationally credited capability, that is, cooperation between hardware manufacturing and high-tech industries, and StarFab hopes to play a role of boosting the cooperation.

StarFab thinks that health, circular economy and 5G are the keywords in high-tech areas in the future 10 years. While it is needless to say application of 5G, there is the globally best test bed for health care in Taiwan and circular economy is highly related to environmental protection. As many large enterprises are concerned about ESG (environmental, social, governance) issues regarding sustainable operation, startups have many business opportunities in these areas.

Entrepreneurship ecosystems in Taiwan have to be based on hardware/software integration, with hardware being capability accumulated by industries in Taiwan and software being startups' capability of developing application-oriented products/services. Taiwan-based accelerators have to be able to integrate hardware with software to set up entrepreneurship ecosystems with startups' growth as the core, letting individual roles in an ecosystem fully capitalize on respective core competitiveness to develop innovative products/services featuring "unknown today but very desired in the future."

StarFab

StarFab chairman and CEO Amanda Liu
Photo: StarFab

(Editor's note: Readers can download "2021 Taiwan Startup Ecosystem Survey" jointly conducted by PwC Taiwan, TIER and DIGITIMES: https://www.pwc.tw/en/publications/taiwan-startup-ecosystem-survey.html)

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