Industry Technology Research Institute - Taiwan
Industry Technology Research Institute
Founded in 1973, the Industry Technology Research Institute (ITRI)56 is Taiwan’s largest research and development organization. Focused on applied research and technical services, ITRI has played a crucial role in transforming Taiwan’s economy from one based on labour-intensive industries to one centred on high-technology.
A non-profit, ITRI has a subsidiary company in Silicon Valley and branch offices in Tokyo, Berlin and Moscow. It receives approximately 50% of its funding from the government. The remainder is provided by the 30,000 private sector enterprises that issue ITRI consulting, training, research and service contracts and lease its technology. Led by a research-oriented workforce of roughly 5,800 – most of whom hold advanced degrees – ITRI’s applied research has contributed to the development of WIMAX wireless broadband, solar cells, radio-frequency identification, light electric vehicles, flexible displays, 3-D integrated circuits, and telecare technologies. Through its Open Lab/Incubator programme, ITRI has incubated more than 174 start-ups and spin-offs, including Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company and United Microelectronics Corporation. In total, ITRI has invested close to US$ 2 billion in its Open Lab/Incubator programme.
ITRI holds more than 17,000 patents – nearly 1,600 granted in 2011 alone – a result of its advanced technology research and development in the following fields:
- Information and communication technologies
- Electronics and optoelectronics technologies
- Material, chemical and nanotechnology
- Medical device and biomedical technologies
- Mechanical and systems technologies
Representative Best Practices
The success of ITRI in applied research can be attributed to three principal factors:
- Innovation and human capital generator: In addition to generating more than 17,000 patents, ITRI has developed more than 70 local chief executive officers and an alumni base of 160,000. ITRI alumni go on to become industrial pioneers and leaders of Taiwanese industry.
- Successfully mitigating patent issues: ITRI’s research and innovation helps to stimulate the local economy. ITRI closely collaborates with and assigns patents to local enterprises, extending their manufacturing capabilities and minimizing their risk of patent infringement and exposure to lawsuits from foreign plaintiffs.
- Strong partnerships around the globe: ITRI’s footprint is not limited to Taiwan. Rather, ITRI maintains a global presence with offices in Moscow, Berlin, Tokyo and Silicon Valley. Moreover, ITRI partners with 143 leading research universities, governmental organizations and corporations headquartered in 25 countries around the world. Teva Pharmaceuticals, Volkswagen AG, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Carnegie Mellon University, SUMITOMO, General Electric, the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development and Microsoft, among many others, demonstrate the diversity of the many partners with which ITRI collaborates on cutting-edge research initiatives.
Representative Project Overviews
A central mission of ITRI is the development of new products, technologies and processes with an industrial impact. Recent examples include:
Assembly process technology for steel mill power generation modules57
Flameproof fiber technology used in textile manufacturing58
- Technology design to lower cost of LED manufacturing59
Phison Electronics: ITRI Plants the Seeds of Success
In 2000, Phison Electronics was little more than an idea. Today, it is a major player in the NAND flash memory chip sector, with more than US$ 1 billion in annual revenue and 530 employees. ITRI’s relationship with Phison in 2000-2001 planted the seeds of success that Phison enjoys today. Specifically:
- ITRI worked with Phison to secure government loans in its early, financially struggling period.
- Phison used ITRI’s Open Lab/Incubator to promote its early products, directly leading to a major order from Toshiba. ITRI also helped to persuade Toshiba to make a capital investment in Phison.
- ITRI worked with Phison in securing bank loans when the company’s early efforts were unfruitful.
Shortly after these efforts, Phison ramped up production and sought larger facilities.