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EYE ON CHINA
Taiwan government to encourage formation of smaller biotech funds
The scientific and technology task force of the Executive Yuan (the Cabinet) has approved the revised “action program for the takeoff of the Taiwanese biotech industry,” according to which the government will encourage the formation of medium and small biotech venture capital funds ranging in scale from NT$500 million to NT$1bilion and the national development fund will invest in individual projects directly.

Chang Shan-cheng, noted that the government will push the establishment of big biotech venture capital funds two to three years later, after the achievement of several successful cases and the formation of confidence in the private sector. Then the national development fund will contribute to the big biotech venture capital fund at the maximum share of 40%, or the ceiling of NT$2 billion.

Meanwhile, in addition to the two major items of pharmaceuticals and medical devices for the development of the biotech industry, the government will add the item of medical management to the program, aiming to achieve the export of medical-management expertise. The revised program calls for the investment of NT$300 million in three years in the cultivation of 300 high-caliber talents needed by the industry. The program expects to cultivate 100 post-doctoral researchers and have them receive training at corporate bodies or schools. The government will subsidize those units by giving them NT$1 million per researcher annually.

The “action program for the takeoff of the Taiwanese biotech industry” originally envisioned the establishment of NT$60 billion big biotech venture capital fund, to be contributed by the national development fund and the private sector jointly. The plan, however, was aborted after Yue-Teh Jang, general partner of Vertical Group, the largest venture capital fund for medical devices in the U.S., failed to raise funds for Taiwan Medtech Fund in mid-June this year.

Chang Shan-cheng pointed out that biotech venture capital funds will be funded mainly by the private sector and the national development fund will play a supporting role. For common biotech venture capital funds, the national development fund will invest no more than 30% of the total amount; it will also invest less than NT$1 billion in an individual case directly.

For pharmaceuticals, the program calls for pushing cross-Taiwan Strait cooperation for clinical test and assisting domestic firms to team up for tapping the mainland Chinese market.

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