Thailand to act as Indochina startup hub

Thailand to act as Indochina startup hub

Science and Technology Minister Pichet Durongkaveroj (centre) speaks at Startup Thailand & Digital Thailand 2016. THITI WANNAMONTHA
Science and Technology Minister Pichet Durongkaveroj (centre) speaks at Startup Thailand & Digital Thailand 2016. THITI WANNAMONTHA

The government aims to develop Thailand into a gateway for startup companies in Indochina by expanding startup communities in Chiang Mai, Phuket and Khon Kaen.

The move is part of the Thailand 4.0 vision to groom new tech entrepreneurs who embrace innovation and technology.

"Our emphasis on Thailand's strong position in the startup industry will drive towards Thailand 4.0 as an innovation-based economy," said Science and Technology Minister Pichet Durongkaveroj. "The government will have major activities to promote this issue nationwide."

The Information and Communication Technology Ministry has joined hands with the Science and Technology Ministry to spend 20 million baht to organise the Startup Thailand & Digital Thailand event under the "Regional Rise" theme in Chiang Mai during Aug 5-7 and under the "Mekong Connect with Neighbouring Countries of Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam" theme in Khon Kaen during Aug 26-28.

The last one will be organised in Phuket under the "On the Beach to Reflect Phuket as an International Startup Community" theme.

"While yachting in Phuket, we will arrange some pitching activities for startup companies to convince venture capitalists to invest in them," Mr Pichet said.

He said the events will showcase startup innovations and connect local communities with people in academic and business circles so that they will have new knowledge and open business perspectives.

Every province and region has its own unique offerings in tourism, medical, agriculture, farming and manufacturing.

Mr Pichet said Thailand Startup is more outstanding as developed countries have expressed an interest in collaborating with Thai startups. Britain will provide financial support through the Newton Fund worth £3 million, Israel will support some farming projects and Japan will explore a startup collaboration.

Meanwhile, the government will facilitate a startup district by collaborating with private operators to have specific areas for a startup co-working environment that connects with venture capitalists, researchers and academics.

"We are in discussion with Siam Square, Chulalongkorn University and Chiang Mai University to undertake such a project," said Mr Pichet.

ICT Minister Uttama Savanayana said the Digital Economy and Society Development Act is likely to take effect within 90 days. He said the act will establish a 10-billion-baht fund to support local startups.

The ministry will build at least five digital startup incubation centres in collaboration with four commercial banks.

Kan Trakulhoon, co-chairman of the Pracha Rat (People's State) steering committee on innovation and productivity, added that enterprises need to collaborate and invest in startups as part of their growth strategy to acquire new technology and adapt to dynamic technological changes.

"The government and enterprises can help facilitate the mentoring system to support talented startups," he said.

Dej Churdsuwanrak, secretary-general of the Thai Chamber of Commerce and Board of Trade, said private organisations will drive towards Thailand 4.0 that use innovation, technology and research to increase their competitiveness.

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