工研院廿年大事紀

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1993 / 7月

文‧李光真 圖‧薛繼光


新竹目前以台灣的「科技城」馳名世界,工研院、科學園區、加上理工科學術重鎮交通大學及清華大學,匯聚成完整的體系。產業界都同意,沒有工研院就沒有台灣今天的電子產業及科學園區,連帶著也不會有傲人的經濟奇蹟及外匯存底。工研院是如何運作的?


產業界有句名言:「技術藏在人身上」,工研院的高素質人力可說是博取國內業者信賴的主因。目前五千八百位員工中有四百多位博士、近二千位碩士,平均年齡卅三歲,不僅是企業界徵才挖角的寶庫,甚至還有不少地方仕紳想法子透過管道,來此挑選乘龍快婿。

話說民國六十年代初期,當時的經濟部長孫運璿鑑於國內企業研發能力不足,因此倡議由政府主導成立工研院。由於擔心公營單位層層管制、做事不夠靈活積極,因此孫部長力主工研院為財團法人型態,由政府財經部會的首長和民間工商業界領袖共同擔任董監事。

工研院在做什麼?

工研院於民國六十二年七月五日正式成立,最初只有三個所、四百多位員工。經過廿年的拓展,目前工研院有七個研究所,分別是電子、機械、材料、化工、能資、光電和電通所。另外還有四個支援中心,分別負責有關量測技術、汙染防治技術、工業安全衛生及航太工業技術的發展。

工研院的工作,簡而言之可分為兩大項,一是接受政府各單位(特別是主導產業科技發展的經濟部)所委託的,包括前瞻性的科技專案發展計畫及一般性的計畫如協助傳統產業升級等的計畫。這部分做的都是些較大型、技術層次高,屬於中長型(三至五年)的研發,專案成果則需公平公開地移轉業者。工研院接受委託後,以契約方式,依委託案所需的各項預算支取酬勞,並以契約方式訂明政府、工研院與參與廠商的權利義務。

以往政府專案計畫極少,一年不過三、四項,近幾年大幅成長,去年已躍升為卅四項。以往專案多由工研院一手承攬,研發完成後再移轉出去;現在則希望越來越多的中大型廠商能一起參與,一方面分攤研發經費,一方面從過程中就開始學習、彼此討論,以取得較好的研發效益。

此外,近年來台灣財力較豐,台幣又大幅升值,因此工研院也開始從國外引進技術,作為國外高科技與國內使用業者間的技術橋樑,以縮短研發時程。未來還會將技術引進的觸角伸向大陸,加速兩岸產業科技合作。

除了接受政府專案委託外,工研院的另一大工作是接受民間廠商個別委託,視他們的不同需要,訂定契約,作某些項目的個別研發,這類技術大部分是短程的,廠商一拿到就馬上可以派上用場。另外工研院也利用已有的技術,做技術輔導或轉移的工作,藉此收取一些服務費用。

為了讓工研院的研發成果都能廣為業界知道,除了發表會、研討會、期刊,及散布在全省各地的五個服務「窗口」外,工研院各所都有許多技術推廣人員,像推銷員一樣各地奔波,推銷技術。

工研院的成果

還記得風靡一時的音樂卡片嗎?那是工研院電子所最早一炮打響的小玩意,雖是「小技」,卻也為台灣賺進不少外匯;其他許多「台灣第一」的出口商品如電話、碳纖維腳踏車、太陽眼鏡等等,也都有不少工研人的心血。今天的工研院技術層次當然不止如此,以去年度來說,在政府委託的卅四項前瞻性科技專案中,共計獲得國內外專利二百七十四件,平均每一.三天就有一項專利產出。在技術移轉方面,去年工研院共接受二百多家廠商的申請,協助他們取得技術並教他們運用。

整體來看,工研院的技術層次比起國外先進大廠還有段距離,人才的培養也還需加強。但國外大廠一年的研發經費動輒高得嚇人,例如日本松下電器去年的研發經費達八百五十億台幣,約合卅二億美金,而目前工研院一年一百多億台幣,不過區區四億多美金,研發項目卻涵括各個產業,無所不包,對必須「用錢堆出來」的技術成果而言,難免會有影響。

〔圖片說明〕

P.105

光電技術中的「全像」技術,可以在平面上印出具有光線流動及三度空間立體感的圖像,應用在鐘面、太陽眼鏡等產品上,可賣到比以前多好幾倍的價錢。

P.106

音樂卡片內會唱歌的晶片,是電子所的發明,被譽為「小兵立大功」。

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EN

Tallying the "Score" at ITRI

Laura Li /photos courtesy of Hsueh Chi-kuang /tr. by Christopher Hughes

Hsinchu is now world famous as Taiwan's "technology city." Its Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI) and industrial park, added to the science and engineering orientated National Chiao Tung and National Tsing Hua universities, all come together to create a complete system. Manufacturing circles agree that without the ITRI Taiwan's electronics industry and industrial park would not exist today. There would not even be the Taiwan miracle and the foreign exchange reserves of which we are so proud. So how is the ITRI used?


There is a well-known saying in manufacturing circles that "technology is concealed in the human body." The highly nourished human strength of the ITRI can be said to be the main reason why it has won the faith of the country's industrialists. Among the present 5800 employees there are more than 400 holding doctorates and nearly 2000 with master's degrees, with an average age of 33. It is not only a treasure trove from which enterprises winkle out talent, but there are even parents who think of ways by which to come here in search of eligible son in-laws.

It is said that in the early 1970s the minister of economics, Sun Yun-hsuan, thought that domestic enterprises were lacking strength in research and development, so the government took a lead in establishing the ITRI. Due to fears that public-run units might take control and not let the institute have sufficient vitality, Sun created the ITRI in the form of a private foundation, drawing the directors from both the heads of the ministries of economics and finance and from the private sector.

The ITRI was formally established on July 5, 1973. At the outset it only had three laboratories and around 400 employees. After 20 years of expansion it now has seven research laboratories, for electronics, machines, materials, chemical engineering, energy and resources, photoelectrics, and computers and communications. There are also four support centers which are respectively responsible for metronomics, pollution prevention technology, industrial safety and hygiene, and aeronautical technology development.

What is the ITRI doing?

Broadly speaking, the work of the ITRI can be divided into two main areas. The first is that of accepting commissions from government units (especially the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) which directs industrial technological development). This includes taking on topical special technology development projects, along with generalities such as assisting in upgrading plans for traditional industries. This kind of work is generally on a large scale, and its technical level puts it into the mid--to long-term research and development bracket (three to five years). The results are then fairly and openly transferred to businesses. After the ITRI receives a government commission, it uses a contract by which money is supplied according to the budget plans laid down for that commission. The form of a contract is used to clearly stipulate the rights and obligations of the government,the ITRI and any participating manufacturers.

In the past, special government projects were very few, at not more than three or four a year. In recent years, though, there has been an increase, with the number jumping to 34 last year. Previously all such projects were taken on by the ITRI singlehandedly and then transferred out when the research and development was completed. Now the wish is for more and more medium and large manufacturers to take part, on the one hand supplying funds for research and development and on the other learning from the process and discussing things with each other and thus arriving at more efficiency in research and development.

As well as this, in recent years Taiwan's financial strength has grown and the New Taiwan Dollar has appreciated significantly. This has led the ITRI to begin introducing technology from abroad, becoming a technological bridge between foreign high technology and domestic businesses and shortening the length of time spent on research and development. In future the institute can even extend this introduction of technology to mainland China and speed up scientific and technical cooperation between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait.

Apart from accepting special government commissions, the other main job of the ITRI is to accept commissions from the private sector, looking at its different needs, fixing contracts and doing research and development under various headings. This kind of technology is mostly short-range and can be put on the market as soon as the manufacturer gets it. The ITRI also uses the technology it already possesses to undertake technological guidance and transfer work, for which it receives some fees for its services.

So as to allow the ITRI's research and development results to get known throughout business circles, apart from publicity meetings, research seminars, and its five service "windows" spread throughout Taiwan, each one of the laboratories has a number of technical promoters who go to all areas, just like salesmen, to promote their technology.

The ITRI's results:

Still remember the musical greeting card that was all the rage for a time? That was the first little gadget fired off by the ITRI's electronics laboratory. It might have been small fry, but it did bring in no mean amount of foreign exchange. A number of other prominent Taiwanese exports, such as telephones, carbon-fibre bicycles and sunglasses are also due in large part to the sweat off the brows of the ITRI workers. Among the 34 special government projects commissioned last year, a total of 274 domestic and foreign patents have been won. That is on average a patent coming out every 1.3 days. In respect of technology transfers, the ITRI received applications from more than 200 manufacturers last year for help in supplying them with technology and teaching them how to use it.

Looking at it as a whole, there is of course still some distance between the ITRI's levels of technology and those of the advanced large manufacturers overseas, and there is still a need to strengthen its personnel. But the research and development budgets of such overseas manufacturers is terrifying. For example, Japan's Matsushita last year had a research and development budget of NT$85 billion (around US$3.2 billion). The previous budget of the ITRI was around NT$10 billion a year, which is no more than a trifling US$400 million. Yet the ITRI's topics cover every industry without exception. When speaking of the fruits of those technologies that need money to push them out, it is not surprising that there has been some impact.

[Picture Caption]

p.105

"Holography," part of opto-electronics technology, can project three-dimensional type images on a screen. Used in clocks and sunglasses, the new products can be sold for many times the price of the old ones.

p.106

Greetings cards that can sing are an invention of the electronics laboratory, who have been honored as "the little soldier with great accomplishments."

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