Startup clubs urged in schools

Startup clubs urged in schools

The government has announced a plan to set up what it calls "startup clubs" in secondary schools across the country as it aims to ignite the spirit of innovation and entrepreneurship among young students.

The club is meant to build a community of students who can turn their innovative ideas and passions into goods and services, and is hoped to be a joint venture between the government and the private sector.

Investment for the startup club is expected to be largely from private companies, said Digital Economy and Society (DE) Minister Pichet Durongkaveroj.

Mr Pichet said the DE Ministry was assigned by Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak to develop the project to incubate the country's digital ecosystems.

"We hope startup clubs will be established at some secondary schools," he said at yesterday's Digital Trends Summit.

Mr Pichet said secondary school students have a high level of creativity that can be a great resource for creating new startups if they receive the proper support from the government and private sector.

Many organisations -- especially telecom companies -- have allocated budgets in a way that makes clear how much they believe in the development of local startups.

Mr Pichet said the startup club initiative is designed to complement the startup ecosystem promotion scheme created by the Science and Technology Ministry. The government allocated 1 billion baht to the ministry to set up startup communities in 30 universities this year.

He said there are around 5,000 startups in Thailand, mostly established in the past few years.

"The number of local startups is expected to reach 10,000 by year-end, helped by development of the country's digital ecosystem with strong support from the government and private sectors," Mr Pichet said. "Creativity and innovative digital platforms are the two most important factors to drive the sector."

Mr Pichet acknowledged the need to accelerate promotion of local startups, especially tech firms and fintech companies, to enhance the nation's competitiveness.

Sompoat Chansomboon, director for business innovation at Total Access Communication, said virtual reality and artificial intelligence are emerging digital trends to help companies add value to their products and services as well as accommodate the lifestyles of a new generation of consumers.

Ezra Don Harinsut, chief operating officer and co-founder of Omise Co, Southeast Asia's leading payment gateway, agreed that startups eager to survive must develop innovative services to improve the experience for consumers and solve their problems.

Big data analytics is an increasingly essential tool to help organisations improve efficiency, drive new revenue and gain competitive advantage over rivals.

Building more fintech startups is also needed to support the development of Thailand 4.0 and a cashless society, Mr Ezra said.

Wanna Swuddigul, chief marketing officer of Thai Samsung Electronics, said a shortage of skilled digital workers poses a critical challenge to the development of local startups.

Baptiste Le Gal, chief marketing officer of Lazada Thailand, urged the Thai government to invest more in digital infrastructure, especially in the proposed Eastern Economic Corridor, to further promote the digital economy.

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