Some left high-paying jobs abroad to come to Taiwan's version of Silicon Valley. Others drawn to the Hsinchu Science-based Industrial Park were native entrepreneurs who stopped making toys or shoes or calculators to ride the high-tech wave.
The park's creators, using tax incentives to draw low-cost factories, transformed a rural town 90 minutes from Taipei. Some 260 startup companies have blossomed since the park opened in 1980, making Taiwan the largest manufacturer of monitors, keyboards, mouse devices and motherboards. Taiwan also makes one-third of the world's notebook computers.
About 68,500 people work in Hsinchu Park with a median income of $26,000, more than double that of other Taiwanese workers. The park contributes $13.9 billion to Taiwan's $284 billion economy.
From the engineers' casual clothing to their Lexus and Acura cars, the park seems like a reconstructed Silicon Valley. One company even has a beach volleyball court. Though Taiwanese traditionally defer to their bosses during business meetings, conferences at the park are more lively and often in English, said salesman James Liu of D-Link Corp.
The reason? Many of the employees and engineers once worked in Silicon Valley.
One of the major companies, Macronix International, was founded in 1989 when some 20 Chinese-American engineers left their Silicon Valley jobs to come back to their homeland. Today, the company is a major supplier of microchips to Nintendo.
"They only had to bring their brains back," Macronix manager Lin Yun-lung said.
Written By Annie Huang, Associated Press