President Tsai Ing-wen attended the opening ceremony for the 2019 BIO Asia-Taiwan Conference and Exhibition on the morning of July 25. She stated that Taiwan is internationally renowned for its prowess and innovative capabilities in healthcare. We are actively engaging in international exchanges and cooperation, making contributions to the world, and showing the world that "Taiwan can help."
In remarks, President Tsai began by welcoming biotech firms from all over the world to Taiwan to take part in the 2019 BIO Asia-Taiwan Conference and Exhibition, which also marked the first time this event had been held in Taiwan. She thanked the Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO) and the Taiwan Bio Industry Organization (TBIO) for joining forces to organize this event, helping Taiwan's prowess and innovative capabilities in biomedicine shine on the international stage.
The president pointed out that Taiwan has long been internationally lauded for its achievements in healthcare. We actively engage in international exchanges and cooperation, and take the initiative to provide healthcare assistance for our diplomatic allies around the world, she said. We are making contributions to the world, and showing the world that "Taiwan can help." We firmly believe, she continued, that advances in healthcare technology can both extend human lives and spur economic development.
The theme of this year's conference, the president stated, is "Biotech as the Next Growth Engine for Asia." Taiwan shares the same goal for the biomedical industry under our government's "5+2 industrial innovation program."
The president continued by stating that in working to establish a complete industrial ecosystem over the past three years, we have been guided by the three-part principle of "joining local industries together, connecting to the world, and building links to the future." We have particularly focused on talent recruitment and retention, legislative adjustments, and fundraising, she said, and we intend to turn Taiwan into a hub for biomedical research and development in the Asia-Pacific. In fact, she continued, we have already established biomedical clusters in Taipei, Hsinchu, and Kaohsiung.
President Tsai pointed out that 2018 was a banner year for biomedicine in Taiwan. Both industrial output and investments in Taiwan's biomedical industry grew by more than 5% from the previous year. Combined revenues for listed companies also grew 11% year-on-year. Market capitalization for Taiwan's biomedical industry has reached NT$890.4 billion, she said, and we are confident that biomedicine will be Taiwan's next "trillion-NT-dollar industry."
The president stated that such growth also generates high-quality job opportunities. This year alone, we have organized three job fairs targeting 5+2 industrial development, and many companies have taken part. In addition, she continued, our government is hard at work in the field of innovative R&D. Taiwanese firms have made their mark at many of the world's biggest biomedical conventions, winning international awards for a range of different products, including electronic stethoscopes, smart surgical glasses, and a wearable oxygen tracker, she said.
The president further pointed out that 14 of the world's 200 largest hospitals are in Taiwan, ranking third in the world and first in Asia. Each year we carry out hundreds of clinical studies, both to support the development of new domestic pharmaceuticals and in collaboration with major international companies. This helps keep Taiwan at the cutting edge of international medical research and attracts more international firms to invest in Taiwan, she said.
In closing, the president expressed confidence that given our formidable biomedical R&D capabilities and strengths in semiconductor, software, and hardware manufacturing, Taiwan has much to contribute to the world. Together, she said, we can take advantage of growing trends and seize opportunities to drive the development of Taiwan's biomedical industry.
The president then awarded the Innovation of the Year, Emerging Company of the Year, and Outstanding Company of the Year awards, and cut the ribbon for the opening ceremony alongside other guests.
Among those present were Minister Without Portfolio Wu Tsung-Tsong (吳政忠), Minister of Science and Technology Chen Liang-Gee (陳良基), Minister of Agriculture Chen Chi-Chung (陳吉仲), BIO President James Greenwood, and TBIO Chairman Johnsee Lee (李鍾熙).