The Taipei City Government yesterday announced the launch of a biotechnology industry cluster as a build-operate-transfer （BOT） project in the city’s Nangang District （南港）, which it estimates could serve as an industry growth driver to generate an annual economic output of more than NT$50 billion （US$1.69 billion）.
Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je （柯文哲） and Century Development Co （世康開發） chairman Theodore Huang （黃茂雄） signed the contract at Taipei City Hall, marking the second-largest BOT project launched in the city during Ko’s tenure.
The 50-year BOT contract could create about 3,100 jobs and drive the biotech industry to produce NT$50 billion in annual output, the Taipei Department of Economic Development estimated.
Information and communication technology （ICT） and biotech are two important developing industries in Taipei, Ko said, adding that while the ICT industry has already shown outstanding economic output, the biotech industry has not yet achieved expected outcomes.
Ko said he believes that there are many talented professionals in the field, so there is still potential for substantial development.
The cluster is to be a shining example of the level of cooperation that is possible between the central and local governments, as well as between the government and the private sector, he said.
The project is part of the central government’s “five plus two” innovative industries plan and the city’s East District Gateway Project.
The city government held 11 forums to consult experts on the project before deciding the industrial layout and strategy, Ko said, adding that the project would complement missing functions in the nearby Academia Sinica and National Biotechnology Research Park.
The East District Gateway Project includes plans to make nearby Nangang Station into an important transportation hub, providing access to science parks in Hsinchu County’s Jhubei City （竹北） and a link to Neihu Science Park and Nangang Software Park in the city’s north, he said.
When asked by friends why he joined Ko in a BOT project, Huang said that he had been observing Ko for more than two years and believed that things were “getting more on track with each passing day,” adding that he had been mulling the idea before the project was pitched to him.
Asked how he had helped the city government prepare for this moment, Ko said: “We have established clear regulations, because I believe that city politics used to be an ambiguous process. However, I am a surgeon, so I want everything to be clear and done according to SOPs [standard operating procedures] and regulations.”
The city also conducted surveys to understand the biotech industry’s needs and to develop an overall strategy, Ko said, adding that he believes the government has to cooperate with the private sector, but that clear rules must be established, with the procedures being transparent to the public.