Sipa heralds digital economy roadmap
Following government assurances that it will not be dissolved, the Software Industry Promotion Agency (Sipa) has finally announced its strategic roadmap for fostering development of the country's digital economy.
The agency is also moving to select its new permanent director by this October after the position has been vacant for two years.
Sipa faced uncertainty for years over whether it would be dissolved or not. The agency has been accused by many industry stakeholders of not performing well or functioning according to its objectives.
"After being absolutely clear that we will not be dissolved, we are moving ahead with our plans," said .
Sipa has outlined three strategic areas to focus on: building new digital entrepreneurs; empowering small and medium-sized enterprises through the use of technology; and promoting the use and development of local software.
Sipa received a budget of 290 million baht for the 2016 fiscal year, a slight increase from 280 million baht last year.
Supachai Jongsiri, one of the executive board of directors and acting president of Sipa, said the agency has allocated 80 million baht to turn Phuket into an innovation-driven smart city next month, with the aim of creating a digital industry and promoting technology investment.
Sipa will also receive an additional budget of 90 million baht from the National Science and Technology Development Agency in November to invest in surveillance systems.
Another 240 million baht will be obtained from the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Ministry to invest in the installation of a high-speed WiFi network in Phuket.
Mr Supachai said Sipa plans to collaborate with educational institutions to provide training courses to local SMEs on how to use ICT and expand online to widen their market reach.
"We initially aim to train at least 4,500 online merchants in 10 provinces in one year," he said.
Chatchai Khunpitiluck, vice-president of Sipa, said the agency also plans to work with educational institutes to establish a startup club and provide startup programming and management courses to support the startup industry.
There are around 37,000 students who graduate with a computer science degree in Thailand each year.
Mrs Jirawan added that Sipa is also in discussions with the Comptroller General's Department to unlock regulations to allow small local software companies to bid on government projects in order to promote the local software market development.
"From now on we will work closely with all stakeholders to ensure that our policies and action plans respond to the needs of the industry," he said.