Last fall, a team of British technology experts successfully completed a second mission aimed at deepening ties between the U.K. and Taiwan robot sectors. Their goal included nurturing further collaboration and investment opportunities in “R&D, commercialisation and exports of robotics and autonomous systems.”
The high-profile visit, organized by the U.K. Science and Innovation Network, followed a similar mission in 2015. A key aim was to encourage British and Taiwanese companies to embark on “proactive engagement” in robotics and autonomous systems (RAS) activities across a range of sectors, including aviation, aerospace, machinery, manufacturing and production, and medical devices and healthcare.
“The Foreign Office likes to keep U.K. business abreast of what’s going on in the rest of the world, and as part of this, they maintain a global Science and Innovation Network operating out of embassies and consulates all over the world,” said Rich Walker, managing director at Shadow Robot Co.
Walker took part in the visit alongside Guang-Zhong Yang, chairman of the Engineering and Physicial Sciences Research Council’s U.K. Robotics and Autonomous Systems Network (EPSRC UK-RAS) and director of the Hamlyn Centre at Imperial College London. They joined other robotics experts from Aylesbury Automation Ltd. and engineering behemoth Rolls-Royce PLC.
“The Taiwan local team realised that there were lots of activities taking place in robotics both in the U.K. and Taiwan, and it decided to organize a trade mission focused on engagement between U.K. and Taiwanese robotics companies and researchers,” Walker added.
- The British and Taiwan robot sectors are continuing to forge strong links and collaborative partnerships.
- There are strong synergies between the U.K. and Taiwanese robotics sectors in areas as diverse as aerospace, manufacturing, and healthcare.
- British robotics companies view Taiwan as an important springboard to the Chinese market.
Taiwan robot companies make a return visit
As part of the four-day trip, the British team toured a number of the leading robotics research in the country, including the Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI), National Taiwan University, and National Chiao Tung University.
Walker also revealed that the Taiwan robot odyssey was followed by a reciprocal visit to the U.K. — arranged by the British Office in Taipei. He welcomed a team of representatives from ITRI to Shadow Robot’s production facility in London and heard a speech from Dr. Nelson Chang of the ITRI robotic department about the technologies the institute has been working on.
“We also took the opportunity to give our delegates a sneak peek at our new innovation, the Shadow Smart Grasping System, rounded off with afternoon tea,” he said. “What’s more British than tea and scones?”
“We’re in the process of collaborating with them,” Walker added. “Our SGS is something they’re interested in, and they’re able to loan us some equipment to help in our research.”
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In Walker’s view, there are a number of benefits to be gained from the strengthening of partnerships between the British and Taiwan robot companies and institutions, particularly given the many common areas of interest.
“There are huge synergies that come from U.K. and Taiwanese companies working together,” he said. “Taiwan is known for being a huge powerhouse in the world of electronics, and robotics is something that seems to be growing exponentially. Linking up with partners over there just makes good sense.”
“Also, we know that at Shadow, we can’t do everything. We’re experts at what we do, but we need support and assistance in areas that aren’t our speciality — partnerships are extremely vital in getting any project off the ground,” Walker noted.
Looking ahead, Walker was also confident that the collaborative initiatives will not only facilitate stronger links between the two nations, but also help Shadow — and perhaps other U.K. robotics companies — to expand their commercial interests overseas.
“Taiwan has significant strengths in technology development and commercialization,” he said. “We found it really exciting to understand how by ‘going global,’ we could build on our own strengths with experienced partners and be able to take novel U.K. technology to market.”