B30bn target for startup funds
The government is promoting Thailand as an attractive investment destination for startups in Asia with the aim of raising 30 billion baht in funds from investors by 2020, says the National Innovation Agency (NIA).
"Given our geographical location, large population and variety of industrial sectors, Thailand can be an investment hub for startups in this region," said Pun-Arj Chairatana, director of the NIA under the Science and Technology Ministry.
Thailand has a variety of test beds, a platform for conducting rigorous, transparent and replicable testing of scientific theories and computational tools. The government is also aggressively promoting the number of startups and funding investment.
There are around 1,000 startups in Thailand with corporate venture capital investment worth US$200 million (6.91 billion baht), Mr Pun-Arj said at a two-day seminar entitled Echelon Thailand 2017, which started yesterday.
Investors from Japan and China are actively exploring international expansions with startups in Thailand.
The NIA will soon sign a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry of Japan for startup collaboration, plus another MoU with China's leading technology firm for the accelerator development scheme.
The NIA recently entered into a similar collaboration with the Israeli government to form an accelerator development scheme to support high-potential Thai startups, he said.
The government, meanwhile, has relaxed the rules of doing business with startups.
Mr Pun-Arj said the NIA expected to double the number of startups in Thailand to nearly 2,000 in 2018.
In Thailand, there are nine targeted industrial sectors for startups: agriculture and food technology; health; insure tech; fintech; e-commerce tech; travel tech; government tech; education; and industry tech.
Mr Pun-Arj said he believed 2017 could be the golden year of insurance tech, property tech, health tech and agriculture and food tech industries.
To achieve the goal, he acknowledged that the government need to support English-language communications and build more co-working spaces.
He said the government plans to set up innovation zones in at least 30 provinces that feature startup communities to exchange innovative ideas and attract investors.
Champ Suthipongchai, a partner of Creative Ventures, a US-based venture capital firm that focuses on investment in Southeast Asia, said startups who come up with innovative technologies that could make day-to-day life easier for the elderly and new technologies could be the answer to the imminent labour shortage.