My Room Abroad has been granted the Taipei Government’s Startup Subsidy in July 2019. I will be explaining in this article how to apply for this subsidy. The common pitfalls and things to include and think of when you are applying.
The Startup Subsidy and eligibility
As explained in our article about the different types of Taipei subsidies, the Startup subsidy helps a Taiwan Startup up to 1 million NT$ and 50% of a project. This means that if you want to receive 1 million NT$ from the government, you will need to plan for 2 million NT$ of expenses. Of these two million, you will need to bear 1 million yourself.
Eligibility for this grant is first and foremost based on these two factors:
- Your company needs to be incorporated within the past year.
- Your company’s official address needs to be within the boundaries of Taipei City.
If you satisfy both these two conditions your eligibility is based on your project.
Sectors of interest for the Startup Subsidy
The startup subsidy is looking to invest in startups offering one of these three improvements to the local economy:
- Technological innovation
- Creative operation model
- Service innovation
You will actually need to select one of these.
List of elements you need for your proposal
The Application form
The application form is a fairly straight forward document you should complete.
You can download the form here and simply fill out the document.
The Proposal form
This is the masterpiece of your application. It’s the document where you explain your project how it’s going to help the Taiwanese economy and why you should be awarded a subsidy.
It looks quite a lot like an application for an accelerator or incubator.
If you have never made this type of document, I recommend you keep a copy of your responses for future use.
You can download the blueprint on this link. It has an English version for you to understand the questions they want to be answered.
At first, I had a feeling they wouldn’t actually read the whole document in detail, however, after the presentation, I realized they actually read it thoroughly.
Part one is the company information which is rather straightforward.
Part two and three are the core of your document where you explain your project and how you will actually make it happen.
One of the most important parts of this document is part 4: Milestones and Expected Outcomes. Here you will explain how they will evaluate the success of your project. This document gives you a clear example of good KPI.
Part 5 describes how you will be using the capital and is divided into 7 different parts.
- Your team
Who are your employees? You will need to justify their legitimacy and you will also need to submit the labor insurance list to show they are actually on your payroll. If you and/or other team members are under the Entrepreneur Visa, you can’t be on your company’s labor list so these people you can simply list with a copy of their ARC.
If you have any external consultants/experts, you can also list them here. You will need to justify why you need them and submit a contract with the amount you are paying and the scope of the collaboration.
- Supplies & Materials
This part is pretty straight forward. You will need to submit a quote from suppliers to justify the amount or the estimated costs which can be adjusted at the end of the project.
Which type of materials will you use, and how will you depreciate them during your project. I recommend you discuss with your accountant how to optimize this.
If you are outsourcing anything, going from IP rights to R&D, or even any other service, such as web development, you can list it here. Once again you will have to submit a contract stating the quote for the outsourced project and the scope of this outsourcing.
- Event Rental and decoration fee
If you are organizing a roadshow or if you are organizing some sort of event, you can list the different costs here. Once again you should have a quote ready.
- Marketing Materials
If you are investing in marketing, you can explicit how you will be spending the budget here. You can list the materials such as flyers, posters, etc. You can equally show the expected amount you will be spending on digital marketing in this section.
If you are renting an office in Taipei, you can add the expense here. Prepare a copy of your lease agreement and add it to the proposal appendices. You will also need to have your intermediary evaluation at this address.
You can state your expected utilities in this section. Unless your project is energy-intensive, I wouldn’t bother with this as you will need to justify all expenses.
- Employee training
Any employee you plan to give, you can state it here. Again have a quote ready for the budget of the employee training.
If you have any supporting documents for justifying your budget, add them as an attachment to your application.
Submitting the application
Before actually submitting the documents, I strongly recommend you to get in touch with someone from SiTi. The government office that helps with the submission of documents. I was in touch with their English speaking coworker, Gasper.
These are his contact details:
Gasper was very helpful in all aspects, whether it was for getting the right documents or helping to fill out the KPI and budget spreadsheet.
In order to actually submit you need to go to Taipei City hall. You should be on the North wing of the building. If you take the north entrance, SiTi’s office is on the left-hand side. They are the only ones with some color on their windows.
Initial review and presentation
After the initial submission, a review committee will review your submission. According to their documentation, you should receive a reply within 7 days after the submission. We had to wait for about 30 days though between the submission date and the actual response date. So don’t worry if it takes a little longer than expected.
If your initial application is accepted to pass to the second stage, you will receive a series of questions that the review committee wants to have replied.
Once you have received your questions, you have about two weeks to prepare for your presentation. This is the key point of your application. During your presentation, you get the chance to explain your project and you should receive money from the government.
The jury consists of three people who are actual entrepreneurs, who have experience in setting up companies, growing and scaling them. They will understand your issues and goals as long as they are reasonable and fair.
During my presentation, I walked through each of their questions, and whilst doing this giving some more details about our business. The presentation is about 10’ and then 5’ of Q&A.
The Q&A for me consisted of replying to some additional questions and negotiating my KPI. They considerably increased the initial KPI I set forward as well as suggested some additional KPI to add in there. They also asked me to link the KPI with the amount of money I was asking.
Basically, the presentation was an in-depth, analytical review of my application and a renegotiation of my KPI based on what I had just explained to them.
After your presentation, you should have a pretty good idea of whether or not you will receive the subsidy or not.
After another month they should let you know whether or not you are awarded the subsidy or not.
Second document submission
If you get accepted you will need to do some additional administration. Here’s the list of additional documents you will need:
- Reviewed proposal
- Copy of your employee list from NHI
- Copy of your employee list from Labor insurance
- Scans and copies of your ARC (and passport)
- Copy of your incorporation documents
- Photo of your company’s bank book
- Your company stamps
- Any supporting documents
- Your budget spreadsheet
Based on your presentation, the review committee will suggest some changes to your KPI and some of the other content you submitted. You can ask Gasper to help you with these changes.
You will need a list of your employees if you are requesting funding for them. There are two lists you need: First, is the NHI list, which you can obtain at the NHI office.
The second list is one from labor office. If your employees are not enrolled yet, this is a great opportunity to enroll them. Without them being enrolled, you can’t apply for funding for them. Anyone from your team who is under the entrepreneur visa can also be funded, without being mentioned on the lists. You will, however, need to submit their visas
Personal identification of complete team
You will need to bring a scan of your passport, ARC, or local ID for you and your whole team.
You will need to bring a copy of your incorporation documents.
You will be required to open a new bank account for receiving the money. It should be named the same as your project’s name. Usually, you have to deposit some money to open an account. Make sure to withdraw it as the bank account needs to be at 0. Bring your bank book showing the account is at 0 and make a copy of the front page to add to your project. You might already need it for creating your bank account and for converting your cheque, you will certainly need it, So you can already go ahead and create a stamp with the project name on it.
As for any company documents, you will need to stamp it. If you have multiple stamps, be sure to bring the one you used for the company incorporation. If you don’t know which one it is, you can ask your CPA or accountant to check.
Other than explaining and justifying the budget in your proposal you will also need to fill out a spreadsheet. You can find a template here. You need to fill out the information just as in your proposal.
I have added notes to the fields with Chinese for easy understanding.
The sheet is also automated so you just need to fill out the green fields. The other ones will automatically be computed.
Before actually submitting everything, someone from SiTi will once again review all your documents. Once they have confirmed everything is fine, you will have to print it 3 times and bind them together to a book. You can do this nearby the City Hall. I went to a printing shop nearby where it was printed and bound in less than 30 minutes.
When you get back to the city hall, they will review everything one final time before you can stamp the books, the side of the pages and a couple of other things.
After submitting the books you can relax, the hardest part is done.
Awaiting final approval
Your project has already been approved, however, you will still need to get your final document to be approved. After you submit your documents for the second time, the review committee, and then some other parts of the government will review everything is in order (Yes they will also check the name is identical on all pages).
If anything is missing, or there is any typo in your name, etc, you will need to return with your stamps to make amendments to your application.
Once everything is cleared for payout, you should receive a cheque for half the money within a month.
I had a mistake in my project name, so I had to return and in total since the second submission I had to wait approximately two months to obtain the cheque. Apparently, it is also possible to request a bank transfer for the final submission.