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ITRI 2030 and Post-Pandemic Trends Edwin Liu
President of ITRI

 ITRI 2030 and its anti-pandemic innovations.

ITRI 2030 and its anti-pandemic innovations.

The world is facing challenges such as global economic restructuring, digital transformation, population aging, urbanization, environmental sustainability, and AI revolution. To join the forces of the industry to co-create innovation in response to the emerging trends and market demands, ITRI developed the 2030 Technology Strategy & Roadmap. With a human-oriented approach, we have examined major macro-environmental factors and envisioned future life scenarios in the next ten years to determine directional statements for our R&D.

ITRI rolled out the 2030 Technology Strategy & Roadmap to ensure its R&D addresses the latest trends and echoes the needs from industry and society.

ITRI rolled out the 2030 Technology Strategy & Roadmap to ensure its R&D addresses the latest trends and echoes the needs from industry and society.

Systematic Guidelines for R&D

In our 2030 Technology Strategy & Roadmap, we are fostering technological breakthroughs in the application domains of Smart Living, Quality Health and Sustainable Environment. Meanwhile, we are strengthening the development of ICT enabling technologies to boost multiple applications. The ultimate goal is to utilize our technological prowess to pave the way towards a better future. That is, to shape a future where we can enjoy high quality living, keep healthcare good and affordable, and create a low-carbon, energy-saving and circular community.

As new challenges arise and projects evolve, we adopt rolling management to stay agile and allow progressive elaboration for the 2030 planning. The recent COVID-19 pandemic, for example, is having a significant impact on the world at large and taught us a hard lesson. In the short term, global governments have reviewed their industrial needs especially in medical and healthcare sectors and have become more likely to establish critical technologies on their own. In the long run, social paradigms and business models will be changing. We can analyze the post-pandemic trends from the political, economic, social, and technological (PEST) perspectives as follows.

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused dramatic global changes in PEST aspects.

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused dramatic global changes in PEST aspects.

PEST Analysis of the Post-Pandemic World

Political Factors
Many governments have escalated their awareness on national security and realized that critical fundamental technologies must not be controlled by foreign countries. Although international cooperation remains necessary, self-protection cannot be overlooked. Take Taiwan for example. 90% of its surgical masks were imported, but now it has its own supply of masks in the strategic national stockpile. Moreover, it even has a surplus capacity for export after meeting the domestic demands for mask production.

Economic Factors
The “1.5-meter economy” has accelerated the digitalization of existing business models. New lifestyles such as food delivery services and work-from-home have become more popular than ever. Furthermore, globalization has been redefined. Cost is no longer the sole factor to be considered in international division of labor. Risk diversification becomes even more vital. Following the U.S.-China trade war, the current pandemic has again highlighted the importance of divergent supply chains and diversified market strategies. Taiwanese businesses should embrace digital transformation and emphasize data economy. More specifically, they should keep high-end manufacturing, R&D, and new capital at home and enhance the value of “Smart Taiwan”.

Social Factors
Due to the threat of the devastating pandemic, people have once again acknowledged the power of nature. According to WHO, 75% of all emerging human pathogens during the past decade are zoonotic. That is because humans have invaded animal habitats for economic development. Consequently, viruses that originated in animals are transmitted to the human population. As Dr. Jane Goodall said, the COVID-19 outbreak is a result of humanity’s disregard for nature and disrespect for animals. To avoid such disasters, humans should seek ways to coexist with Mother Nature in harmony. Efforts in developing green energy and circular economy solutions must be strengthened to enhance environmental sustainability.

Technological Factors
In terms of technology, the further development of ICT will inevitably bring about new business models. For example, AR and VR technologies will be incorporated more intensively to create more realistic remote conference environments. The pandemic will also drive industries to align their technology R&D with a human-centric view and pay more attention to the biotechnology fields.

ITRI Innovation in 2030 Strategy & Roadmap

Perceiving the changes in the PEST aspects helps us better identify market needs and more clearly anchor our position, potential and direction for our R&D strategies and activities. Below are some examples of how ITRI, through its R&D efforts and under the 2030 guidelines, can help the industry and society stay resilient during the post-pandemic era.

Three application domains and common fundamentals in ITRI’s 2030 Technology Strategy & Roadmap.

Three application domains and common fundamentals in ITRI’s 2030 Technology Strategy & Roadmap.

Smart Living
In the smart living domain, ITRI centers on the development of personalized devices and services, autonomous mobility systems, and smart industries and services. As COVID-19 spurs the growth of unmanned services and zero-contact economy, relevant technological advancement will be stimulated. Online entertainment or remote learning, for instance, may need more interactive immersive renderings. This will drive the tech development in sensor chips, human-machine interaction, camera and imaging, facial recognition and artificial intelligence. In this regard, ITRI can leverage Taiwan’s strengths in ICT and the Institute’s ability in hardware-software integration to meet industrial demands.

Quality Health
For Quality Health, we are dedicated to the fields of Smart MedTech and Healthcare, where we have developed integrated solutions for smart elder care systems, personalized/precision medicine, and healthcare models. During the COVID-19 crisis, we have developed a series of anti-pandemic technologies , and will further enhance contact-free solutions for health status detection and healthcare systems. Recently we have cooperated with hospitals and developed wireless technologies for vital sign measurement, RFID posture recognition system, smart bed sheets, smart LED lighting, and smart wheelchairs specifically for eldercare. When an elder falls or has abnormal heart rates or breathing patterns, the system will notify caretakers immediately.

Sustainable Environment
While enjoying smart and healthy lives enabled by technologies, we can never ignore our responsibility to look after our planet and foster environmental sustainability. Taiwan, in particular, should be more conscious in resource management and waste disposal on the small island. Therefore, ITRI is accelerating the technology development in circular economy, smart manufacturing, and green energy and environment. Its carbonization technology, for example, can assist farmers in transforming rice hulls and pomelo branches into useful fertilizers, which exemplifies a good circular economic model.

ICT Enabling Technology
To underpin above domain applications, we have been reinforcing the development of AI, semiconductor, communications, cybersecurity and cloud technologies. It is hoped that we can help industries incorporate AI applications, develop low-power, low-latency computing environments, and ensure data privacy and safety. Meanwhile, we would like to create solutions to lower deployment costs for 5G and expand its coverage.

In our belief, technology upgrade and industrial transformation are the major forces to boost economic growth and social welfare. ITRI’s 2030 Technology Strategy & Roadmap enables us to focus on technology development that echoes the needs of industry and society accurately. Meanwhile, we value the importance of co-creation and will engage domestic and international partnerships as a crucial support in pursuit of innovation. This is why we have been working so closely with the academia, industry, and government, and striving to bridge the gaps between home and abroad. ITRI will constantly expand its technology capacity to shape new lifestyles, develop market-oriented solutions, and find uncontested market spaces. Together, we will build a better future.

About the Author

Dr. Edwin Liu

Dr. Edwin Liu received his Ph.D. from University of California, Berkeley in Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences. Before joining ITRI, he was one of the founders and the Senior Vice President of Smart Grid & Grid Management at Nexant Inc. He is also an IEEE Fellow and the former Chairman of the IEEE Computer & Analytical Methods Subcommittee. To assist industries in multidisciplinary innovation and co-creation for a better future, he is leading ITRI to roll out its 2030 Technology Strategy & Roadmap.