Interview with Michelle Chien  – National Health Research Institutes

26 May
Michelle Chien 
Interview with Michelle Chien, Manager of Technology Transfer and Incubation Center, National Health Research Institutes

By Erika Wu, Business Development Manager, Global Tech Hubs, LSN

Erika Wu

Erika Wu (EW): Please introduce us to National Health Research Institutes (NHRI). Such as mission statement and brief overview of the services offered?

Michelle Chien (MC):

The National Health Research Institutes (NHRI) is a non-profit foundation established by the government with its organization charter. NHRI is dedicated to the enhancement of medical research and the improvement of health care in Taiwan.

Scientists at the NHRI conduct mission-oriented medical research and investigate many aspects of the basic biomedical sciences, as well as specific diseases. There are several research institutes and research centers are trying to deal with common problems such as aging, cancer, infectious diseases, mental disorders, occupational diseases, to health policy. It is our hope that the knowledge, experience, and facilities at the NHRI will become important resources to the whole nation in understanding, preventing, and curing diseases.

The technology transfer and incubation center (TTIC) is as a research support unit in NHRI divided into three groups of Industry-Academia Collaboration Planning Division (IACP), Intellectual Property Management & Technology Transfer Division (IPTT) and Innovation & Incubation Center (IIC). The IACP is the window for NHRI’s industry-academia cooperation and promote NHRI’s R&D outcomes. The IPTT assists research institutes in intellectual property management and out-licensing. The IIC mainly uses platform-based coaching methods to provide new startups with various resources to help them grow and thrive.

NHRI website:

TTIC website:

EW: What are some traits of the Taiwan markets that are different from the USA or Europe markets?


1) The rapid growth of the global biopharmaceutical market has driven business opportunities for contract development and manufacturing (CDMO), while the growth of the generic drug market has driven business opportunities for joint development.

2) Taiwan has established bilateral cooperation promotion units with the United States and Japan respectively, and has listed biotechnology as a key cooperation project. At the same time, it has also signed relevant agreements on biotechnology cooperation, which will help international cooperation and market development of the domestic biotechnology industry.

3) The number of items entering late-stage clinical trials will increase, which will help opportunities for cooperation or authorization with multinational pharmaceutical companies.

4) The R&D cost of new medicines in Taiwan is lower than that in neighboring countries (such as Singapore, Japan, Australia), which helps to save drug development expenditures.

5) In addition to having publicly transparent drug review regulations that align with international standards, there are also counseling agencies that provide regulatory consultation services for products from research and development to market launch in Taiwan. Furthermore, the biomedical research and development capabilities are very strong. There are 26 medical centers and 124 clinical trial hospitals, abundant biotech R&D human resources, and high-level biotech talents familiar with the operation of European and American markets returning to Taiwan to start businesses. We have also established the Taiwan Clinical Trial Consortium (TCTC), which has sufficient capacity to conduct clinical trials for new drugs or medical devices.

EW:  What should investors look for from startups that want to enter the Taiwan/Asian markets? How does NHRI evaluate whether they made the most of it or not, and is that a good indicator for future success? How would you characterize the current startup investment scene in Taiwan? What kind of opportunities should we be aware of? 


From investors’ perspective on the biomedical industry, key success factors include market, technology, finance, and talent. In terms of the market, the total addressable market must be large enough; the technology must be innovative, feasible, and have a complete patent network protection; there must be completed financial planning and fundraising abilities; and the team must have a clear vision, determination for risk management, and technology transfer capabilities. All four elements are essential. During the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been an increase in investment funds being allocated to the biomedical field. 

Besides, owing to the coming aging society, the investment focus of the biomedical industry will be on medical care and technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT) as well as the international market.  

According to the Taiwanese Biotech industry report from 2022, it points out the following domains are investment scene in Taiwan.  

Firstly, under the support of favorable policies, regenerative medicine and CDMO (Contract Development and Manufacturing Organizations) are experiencing an investment boom. While facing the challenges of an aging population, the prevalence of chronic diseases, and the rapid advancement of medical technology, there is a growing demand for innovative disease treatments. In response to this trend, the global regenerative medicine and cell therapy companies have been increasing in number, and the market size of gene therapy continues to expand. 

Secondly, the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the implementation of digital healthcare and precision medicine, creating a new investment opportunity. Taiwan’s early-stage investments in digital healthcare have followed this trend. Investors see the promising future in combining Internet of Things and biomedicine. Over the past five years, the number of investments in digital healthcare has exceeded those in pharmaceuticals and medical devices, becoming a new investment frontier in the healthcare sector. 

Therefore, TTIC will look for the potential MedTech companies would offer innovative ideas and technologies, we will assist them in providing bio bank data, regulatory counsel, VC&CVC partners. 

EW: What makes Taiwan an attractive launchpad for American or international startups who are interested in entering the APAC region? Why did you choose Taiwan, and what is your plan for the Asian market hereafter?  


There are some reasons that American or international startups can start their business here. 

1) Taiwan is a democratic country and locates near major metropolises such as Hong Kong, Singapore, Shanghai, Tokyo and Seoul in Asia. It’s appropriate for international startups to start their business in Taiwan first then extend out in other Asia countries.   

2) The National Biobank Consortium of Taiwan (NBCT) was established through the fund support and governance from the government and managed by NHRI. There are over 35 local biobanks being approved by the Ministry of Health and Welfare in Taiwan. Through the cooperation of all biobanks with uniform quality standards and clinical data content, a large and comprehensive human biobank network can be quickly established. Thus, Biobank can not only provide high-quality medical information and specimens for academic use, but also the industry for commercial use legally. It will be an advantage to appeal to more startups utilizing and having the clinical trial or further research in Taiwan. 

3) The government also focuses on the combination of Taiwan’s strengths in the ICT and biotech industries. For example, the majority of global gene testing chips are manufactured in Taiwan since Taiwanese ICT industry is already very mature. If it can be combined with the medical industry to develop medical materials and devices, medical diagnosis, digital healthcare, and use mature resources to drive new technologies and new drugs, this should be a feasible development strategy to explore. 

4) The policy is currently to boost recruitment and retention of international talents. There are a couple of actions below. 

  • Relaxing the work and visa requirements: the government is issuing Employment Gold Cards (a four-in-one work permit, resident visa, alien resident certificate and reentry permit).  
  • Relaxing residency requirements. 
  • Improving tax incentives and social protections. 
  • Relaxing entry and residence restrictions for nationals without household registration. 

To conclude, the strengths of developing ICT with bio data in Taiwan will increase more incentives for American or international startups to launch the business or have the collaboration with local clinical trial here.   

EW: What can NHRI provide for the international startups?


Technology Transfer and Incubation Center (TTIC) in NHRI can provide co-development, technology transfer, business cooperation, and international startup collaboration models which can be used to connect solutions to overseas clients.  

In 2022 NHRI has been having the innovative collaboration with ASUS Cloud and NVIDIA to create a platform. Leveraging NHRI’s biomedical research capacity, the latest generation of NVIDIA AI supercomputers and AI models, and analytical computing applications, AIHPC cloud platform developed by ASUS Cloud Infrastructure Software Center (OCIS), and operational consulting services and training from Taiwan Web Service (TWS), which creates Taiwan’s first dedicated supercomputer for healthcare and pharmaceutical purposes. Developers and data scientists can engage in tasks such as development, deployment, testing of applications, and high-speed computation of big data AI, all through a single platform. This significantly reduces the computation time for massive data and expands the capacity for pharmaceutical research and development. Hence, TTIC can help international startups connect with the biomedical supercomputers within NHRI, enabling precise research data analysis and saving time in clinical trials and validation.  

Additionally, Innovation and Incubation Center (IIC) of TTIC has collaborated with ASUS subsidiary, Taiwan Web Service (TWS), to promote the AI Biomedical Accelerator Program in 2023. Startups are recruited by developing AI technology in biotech and medical fields. This program mainly provides fundraising, regulations, business matching, and talent development, enabling startups to grow rapidly.  

EW: What are some initiatives and strategic goals in 2023 and how are you using LSN & RESI and partnerships to benefit your community? This is your opportunity to discuss strategic goals, how NHRI and other tech hubs can form strategic partnerships, etc.

MC:We hope to establish a long-term partnership with Life Science Nation. Our startups in early stage can gain exposure to international investors and have fundraising opportunities by participating in the RESI conference’s Innovative Pitch Challenge for entering overseas markets. Additionally, we hope to introduce NHRI to international startups by Tech Hub, allowing for potential collaborations with NHRI research units in cases of technology licensing needs. In meanwhile, we also welcome international biomedical startups to join IIC and launch their business in Taiwan, as well as collaborate with NHRI in terms of technology development.


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