Somkid orders B10bn spent on startup fund

Somkid orders B10bn spent on startup fund

Labour development also suggested

Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak (centre) together with Suvit Maesincee, minister of Science and Technology (2nd left), and Labour Minister Pol Gen Adul Saengsingkaew (2nd right) preside over Startup Thailand 2018. NATTAPOL LOVAKIJ
Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak (centre) together with Suvit Maesincee, minister of Science and Technology (2nd left), and Labour Minister Pol Gen Adul Saengsingkaew (2nd right) preside over Startup Thailand 2018. NATTAPOL LOVAKIJ

In order to position Thailand as a startup hub in Asia by 2020, the government has ordered the Board of Investment (BoI) to spend 10 billion baht of the Competitiveness Fund on the startup community as well as demanding the acceleration of three startup-related laws.

"Accelerating and creating more startups is a core government policy to energise entrepreneurs for the future innovation-based economy and to drive Thailand's economic growth in the long run," said Somkid Jatusripitak, deputy prime minister, in a speech at Startup Thailand 2018.

Thailand's projected economic growth of 4% has helped the region record the quickest growth in Asia.

To stimulate new startups, public-private partnership (PPP) is needed, he said.

"I ordered the BoI to use 10 billion baht of the Competitiveness Fund that has been inactive since it was established in 2016," said Mr Somkid.

The fund can be an alternative fund for startups and invest in a model "fund of funds", he said.

The National Economic and Social Development Board (NESDB) also needs to add workforce development to its national plan to prepare for job loss from digital disruption, the rise of artificial intelligence (AI) and automation, said Mr Somkid.

"Both BoI and NESDB have to create a solid plan with budget allocation within 3-4 months," he said.

Science and Technology Minister Suvit Maesincee said this year the ministry will collaborate with related agencies to speed up enforcement of three regulations, including the Startup Act, Regulatory Sandbox Act and Bayh-Dole Act, which allows researchers the right to their intellectual property research.

The Startup Act facilitates the founding of local and international startups through tax incentives and foreign shareholders. The Regulatory Sandbox Act allows startups to pilot new innovative ideas.

"The ministry will collaborate with BoI in making the Competitiveness Fund cover technology-based and service-based startups," said Mr Suvit.

The BoI also invited foreign startups, especially from Europe, Japan, China and the US, to collaborate and invest in Thailand's startup community.

Startup Thailand 2018 is at Queen Sirikit National Convention Center from May 17-20, featuring startups from 24 countries featuring their innovative products and services.

Mr Suvit said he has talked with startup communities about growing faster by creating market demand. The government can help generate demand via smart city solutions and allowing startups to participate in their development, focusing on hardware and deep technology.

"Along with the smart visa and innovation district schemes, these initiatives should increase capital in Thai startups to 100 billion baht from nearly 40 billion in 2018," he said.

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