Columbus charts course

Columbus charts course

The Industry Ministry has teamed up with the Stock Exchange of Thailand (SET) on a new venture capital fund to finance Thai and Japanese startups under a bilateral initiative called Open Innovation Columbus.

Industry Minister Uttama Savanayana said the ministry and the SET are studying the feasibility of the venture capital fund, aimed at promoting small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) from both countries to be competitive startups with value-added products and innovative businesses.

"The fund is set to finance Thai startups in innovative and high-tech businesses, while cooperation between Thailand and Japan should improve startups' capabilities in both countries," he said. "The ministry expects the venture capital fund to be a crucial financial tool for SMEs to access resources."

Mr Uttama said further details about the fund will be determined as soon as the feasibility study is concluded.

Open Innovation Columbus is a partnership between the Thai and Japanese governments to strengthen the capability of startups from the two countries to do business overseas.

Under the scheme, the two governments will initiate the startup innovation hub as a research and development centre for new technology to support SMEs from both countries.

Mr Uttama said the two governments will hold a company showcase, "Industrial Revolution Week -- Transformation Week", from May 8 to 11.

Representatives of Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry will visit the showcase.

There will be 55 companies from Japan in attendance, and Thailand will showcase 210 firms under the ministry's network and the Federation of Thai Industries for business matching.

Moreover, Shiro Sadoshima, the Japanese ambassador to Thailand, recently met Mr Uttama to follow up on the development of bilateral cooperation, as the two sides already signed a memorandum of understanding last September.

Thailand and Japan are setting up a new committee, including governors and private sector executives from both countries, to work together.

"Japan will choose its startups to match Thai startups in the initial business matching under the scheme," Mr Uttama said. "Startups and SMEs are normally interested in a smart factory and smart logistics that will enable them to use high technology, automation systems and the Internet of Things."

At the same time, Thailand and Japan will open the 30-million-baht industry transformation centre and a lean automation systems integrator project in Bangkok next week.

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