Taiwan Government has approved a set of plans to promote the development of Taiwan’s digital content industry, according to an article in Digitimes.

Focusing on computer animation and games software, the plans aim to increase the industry’s annual production value from NT$341.2 billion (US$10.34 billion) in 2006 to NT$600 billion in 2011.

The National Development Fund under the Executive Yuan will appropriate NT$20 billion for a five-year budget to encourage R&D in computer animation and games software by investing in private projects, especially joint ventures (JV) with international partners, the Executive Yuan indicated. Once such R&D projects pass examination by the government, the fund will commit investment before the projects kick off, an important measure to facilitate R&D on a long-term basis, the Executive Yuan pointed out.

Growing the industry 1.75 times its original size in five years is an ambitious numerical goal to achieve. Encouraging R&D is a positive step, but notably the government intends to invest in projects rather than offering tax offsets (which has both merits and demerits). What the government panel defines as “R&D” is also unclear; is it the development of a game or animated work, or does it refer to development of tools, middleware, and engines for games developers and artists to use?

In addition, there will be a five-year subsidy budget of NT$4.12 billion, including: NT$1.36 billion to subsidize Taiwan-based production of about 60 animation films as well as games software in an attempt to cultivate Taiwan’s R&D capabilities; NT$330 million to subsidize the broadcast of Taiwan produced animated video by terrestrial and cable TV companies, bringing the proportion of animation broadcast in Taiwan that was produced locally from 0.33% in 2006 to 10% in 2011; and finally, the promotion of more than 10 animated films and games characterized by vivid Taiwan imagery in the international market.

These animation subsidies appears to clearly emphasise the production of local content, taking on almost an import-substitution-like policy goal. Whether subsidised productions that presumably display imagery easily identifiable as Taiwanese can be successfully sold in the international market is also questionable.