Sunday, July 12, 2009

Nature interviews Chi-Huey Wong on Taiwan's biotech industry

Seems like they are planning to strategically invest government funds into the industry. One major problem noted is that experienced and skilled scientists prefer to stay abroad, and thus a shortage of young scientists. Well yeah, when the grad school stipend in the US is way higher then real scientist jobs in Taiwan, you've got serious under pay. Add in how Taiwanese companies love to work employees overtime while underpaying, good luck recruiting! Dr. Wong (翁啟惠) did acknowledge how they need to increase salaries, but he is saying that as head of Academia Sinica(中研院), let's see how he can convince the private sector to actually put that into practice.

Another major problem in Biotech is that it's always thirsty for research funding, it's just the nature of the industry. Few countries in the world have as large the capital as the US of A, and yet the Biotech industry is still not working too well in the US. Taiwan is now deep in debt, just as the rest of the world is, and trying to invest in this high failure-rate, capital-burning industry is a huge gamble, especially in this deep-shit economy. Some highly strategic financing is really required here.

It's good to know that Dr. Wong really knows Taiwan's strengths in clinical trials and gadget engineering, and it's always a good thing to start out with what you are good at. Yet I think Taiwan has a little too much people doing "glucose sensors". Heck, you can already get blood testing machines at Walmart for cheep, why waste your time trying to tweak something that's already good enough to perfection? We need truly ground breaking research, not evolutionary tweaks that have not significant market value.

Well, yeah, wait and see how it goes, it's still almost a decade before I finish my training. Maybe I'll contribute to the development, maybe I'll stay in academia, or maybe I'll stay here in the US. Never the less, wish them good luck.

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