Companies such as electric motor scooter firm Gogoro could hold the key to Taiwan's economic growth. In just three years, the start-up, which counts Japan's Panasonic as a strategic partner and Cher Wang, the founder of local smartphone maker HTC as a key investor, raised US$150 million to develop the smartphone-synched bike, and a charging network for it. The Smartscooters went on sale last month, starting at around US$4,100. Gogoro's success in creating a home-grown, innovative product is precisely what Taiwan's government wants to foster as it seeks to reduce the export-driven economy's reliance on the island's world-class tech manufacturing sector. These tech firms, which include HTC, the world's biggest contract chip maker Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing and iPhone maker Hon Hai Precision Industry, also give Taiwan an advantage over the many other countries seeking to nurture tech start-ups. "We hope our policies can help a start-up at its most difficult stage - the beginning - so it can go the way of Gogoro," said Jan Fang-guan, an official with the government planning agency, the National Development Council (NDC). Tech manufacturing makes up a third of all Taiwan's industrial output, but two years ago, the NDC recognised growth in this sector was plateauing as firms lose out to cheaper, mainland rivals. To stabilise trade and make the economy more "creativity intensive", the NDC a year ago set up HeadStart, a project dedicated to creating a local Silicon Valley by relaxing regulations for registering start-ups, matching funds invested into projects and creating tech hubs. Cjin Cheng, from US-based start-up fund 500 Startups, said the island's established tech scene and global links would help entrepreneurs, in contrast to rivals on the mainland, where internet access is largely restricted. "You can build out easily if you want to," she said.