Before interviewing Deputy Director-General Chen Shu-Zhu, it took me a minute to realize just how long she’d held the second-highest-ranking position in her organization. Chen started working at the Hsinchu Science Park Bureau in 1982, which means she’s been there for over 40 years! When I ran into Chen, she’d just gotten back to Taiwan from participating in a German medical expo. Even though her voice was still hoarse from the expo, she was full of laughs and beamed with pride while telling me about her 40 years as the Deputy Director-General of the Hsinchu Science Park.
Picture 1: Deputy Director-General Chen Shu-Zhu at the Hsinchu Science Park Bureau (photo taken by Pei-lin Lin)
40 Years of Strengthening Taiwan’s Silicon Shield
Knowing where to start was an issue when preparing to interview Deputy Director-General Chen Shu-Zhu. As I was looking up information on Chen, I thought someone must have made a mistake on her bio because it said that she started working at the Hsinchu Science Park Bureau in 1982!
Chen smiled from ear to ear when I brought this up. “I also think it’s kind of crazy! It seems like my 40 years as a civil servant have passed in the blink of an eye. I also think I’m really lucky that I work in a dynamic agency. The high-tech industry moves at a rapid clip. We have to do more than just keep up. We have to stay ahead of the curve.” Chen then went on to breakdown the many pivotal transformations of the Hsinchu Science Park. She was working there during four major phases of Taiwan’s high-tech history, which include PC-oriented computers, IC-oriented circuits, photoelectric displays/LED/solar, and smart-oriented hardware-software integration.
During the interview, Deputy Director-General Chen Shu-Zhu mentioned that she is grateful for something that former Director-General Hsueh Hsiang-chuan said, “We aren’t a management bureau, but rather a service bureau.” Hsueh’s words left a deep impression on everyone at the Hsinchu Science Park Bureau and became Chen’s guiding principle for her entire career. Foreign and domestic media outlets love asking Chen, “What is the secret X factor that has made the Hsinchu Science Park so successful?” Deputy Director-General Chen Shu-Zhu can’t help but smiling when answering this question. “Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither was the Hsinchu Science Park.” During her 40 years at the Hsinchu Science Park Bureau, Chen has spent time in different departments including the Business Division, the Investment Division, and the Planning Division as well as serving as the Chief Secretary and finally the Deputy Director-General. Throughout her career, Chen has had to come up with solutions to every problem that the companies housed within the Hsinchu Science Park run into. Such pertinent service has turned the Hsinchu Science Park into a trusted line of support, but more importantly, has bolstered Taiwan’s silicon shield.
Picture 2: Foreign journalists visiting Taiwan to get a feel for the Hsinchu Science Park (Photo courtesy of Deputy Director-General Chen Shu-Zhu)
Thailand, Vietnam, and India Try to Cash In On the “Hsinchu Science Park Model”
Deputy Director-General Chen Shu-Zhu could go on for days about Taiwan’s exchanges with New Southbound partner countries. In 2006, the Hsinchu Science Park signed an agreement to become sister science parks with the Thailand Science Park, which is the country’s oldest. Subsequently, people such as the vice president of the Thailand National Science and Technology Development Agency and the president of the Thailand Science Park more frequently formed delegations to visit Taiwan. Before the outbreak of the pandemic in 2019, these groups often conducted educational trips to the Hsinchu Science Park Bureau and companies within the Hsinchu Science Park.
Picture 3: A delegation from the Thailand Science Park visiting Taiwan (Photo Courtesy of Deputy Director-General Chen Shu-Zhu)
After the Hsinchu Science Park Bureau participated in the 4th Asian Science Park Association LEADERS Meeting, which was held in Vietnam’s Hoa-Lac Hi-Tech Park, Taiwan and Vietnam started conducting bilateral S&T exchanges and the Hoa-Lac Hi-Tech Park organized several delegations to visit the Hsinchu Science Park. The Saigon Hi-Tech Park started visiting Taiwan in 2017 to consult the Hsinchu Science Park Bureau regarding related S&T development. In 2018, Hsinchu Science Park Bureau Director-General Wayne Wang was asked to become an official consultant to the Saigon Hi-Tech Park. In 2022, Director-General Wang was a speaker at the park’s anniversary celebration. To this day, the Hsinchu Science Park still enjoys a fruitful collaborative partnership with these two Vietnamese science parks.
Moreover, as the world tries to edge its way into the Indian market, industry, academia, researchers, and the public sector have become even more interested in the “Hsinchu Science Park Model”. Deputy Director-General Chen Shu-Zhu pointed out that in 2016, a vice president of the Karnataka State Council for Science and Technology started visiting the Hsinchu Science Park. That year, members of the Hsinchu Science Park also visited India to discuss matters regarding bilateral cooperation, especially in terms of India’s engineering talent that industry, academia, and the research sector have come to adore. The Hsinchu Science Park visited the Indian Institute of Technology Hyderabad in 2017. The next year, the Indian Institute of Technology Hyderabad’s dean of international relations and dean of engineering both visited the Hsinchu Science Park. Such exchanges brought more vitality into the industrial sector, and in 2018, the Hsinchu Science Park and the Electronic Industries Association of India signed an MoU for future cooperation. That year, the Electronic Industries Association traveled to Taiwan in support of the Hsinchu Science Park’s “Eye on India-Hsinchu Science Park Manufacturers’ Investment and Talent Introduction Seminar”. In addition, a delegation from an innovation and incubation center of a different Indian state especially attended Germany’s latest MEDICA Trade Fair to learn about the Hsinchu Science Park Model after finding out that Hsinchu Science Park Bureau Deputy Director-General Chen Shu-Chu would be in attendance. From this, it’s clear that the Hsinchu Science Park’s success story has swept across the entire world.
Soaring to New Heights During the Pandemic and Becoming the Heart of the Asian Science Park Association
Over the past two to three years, the Hsinchu Science Park has been able to keep growing despite the sluggish economic climate during the pandemic. In 2021, the Hsinchu Science Park set a new record by reaching NT$1.5 trillion. Chen Shu-Zhu figures that the main reason is that powerful chips are necessary to make 5G applications and high-performance computing, such as video conferencing for work and school or telemedicine, both fast and clear in real-time.
When people from around the world talk about semiconductors, they inevitably will bring up the Hsinchu Science Park and Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company. Despite this, Chen Shu-Zhu also points out that the Hsinchu Science Park has a wide array of strengths that span outside of semiconductors and cover six core industries. These core industries include ICT, precision machinery, computer peripherals, optoelectronics, and the rapidly growing field of biomedicine. Such diversity demonstrates that different industries can connect and interact with each other in the Hsinchu Science Park. For instance, the Taiwanese government is actively promoting the country's biomedical technology industry, R&D on novel pharmaceuticals, and enhancing medical treatment. All of these fields rest upon adequate chip strength.
In terms of sustainability, the Hsinchu Science Park is acting in line with the National Science and Technology Council’s push for net-zero emissions. By using hydrogen energy technology obtained from Germany, the Hsinchu Science Park hopes that the electricity it generates will only emit water, and ultimately create a more eco-friendly environment. Right next to its main R&D building, the Hsinchu Science Park Bureau is also directly involved in testing energy storage equipment. If there’s a power outage, this equipment can provide at least four hours of uninterrupted power to the park’s grid.
As the interview wrapped up, Deputy Director-General Shu-Zhu proudly said that members of the International Association of Science Parks want to learn from the success of the Hsinchu Science Park in fields spanning from semiconductors and biomedicine to energy storage. In 2018, Korean members of ASPA encouraged Hsinchu Science Park Bureau Director-General Wang to step up and become the association’s president. The following year, Wang was able to hold the annual ASPA Conference in Taiwan. Even though the pandemic has disrupted in-person exchanges, Director-General Wang still gave it his all in providing his expertise and sharing information on business opportunities. Thanks to his efforts, Wang is now known as the heart of ASPA and was reappointed as president in 2020 and 2022.
In closing, Deputy Director-General Shu-Zhu mentioned that part of the public is feeling pessimistic and unsure about the current political and economic climate. However, the government was facing similar challenges when it established the Hsinchu Science Park 40 years ago. At the time, Taiwan proactively found an opportunity for transformation amidst a food crisis, wars in the middle east, the oil crisis, and stagflation. 40 years later, the international political and economic climate remains dire. Despite this, the Hsinchu Science Park Bureau also remains steadfast in its mission of making Taiwan more competitive internationally by being forward-thinking, committed to service, and active in helping businesses transform into high-value-added industries.
Picture 4: Deputy Director-General Chen Shu-Zhu at the Hsinchu Science Park Bureau (photo taken by Pei-lin Lin)
Pei-lin Lin obtained her B.A. in Philosophy from Fu Jen University and her M.A in Political Science from National Taiwan University. Lin embodies a humanistic literacy and political sensibility. In recent years, Lin has collaborated with the Taiwanese government to shoot videos promoting various policies. Currently, Lin splits her time between running a Chan Lands Ltd., Zongdipan, making documentary films and hosting the podcast “Human Translation Machine.” In the past, Lin has been a reporter for several media outlets and the anchor of shows on TVBS, CBC and Da Ai Television. While at Da Ai Television, Lin’s piece “Muhammad Yunus- Savior of the Poor,” was nominated at the First Taiwan Golden Wheel Awards for Outstanding Television News Feature.