Huawei sets US$81m for Asean drive
Three-year plan eyes Thailand innovation
China's Huawei Technologies has earmarked US$81 million (2.58 billion baht) for investment over three years in Asean.
The company signed a three-year memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the National Innovation Agency (NIA) and National Science and Technology Development Agency (NSTDA) to stimulate innovation in Thailand through the development of deep technologies and startups.
Investment in Southeast Asia will cover OpenLab, enabling cloud developers and cultivating ICT talents in the region, vice president for corporate communications Joe Kelly said Wednesday at "Huawei Asia-Pacific Innovation Day".
There are seven OpenLabs globally, including one in Bangkok established last year another scheduled to open in New Delhi this August.
Pun-Arj Chairatana, executive director of NIA, said NIA and NSTDA signed the MoU with Huawei for 2018-2020 as the second phase of collaboration.
The MoU will cover five areas: building deep technology startups, building a digital insight platform, developing the startup ecosystem via Thailand as Startup Nation, becoming a global startup industry and creating STEAM (science, technologies, engineering, art and maths) curriculum, as well as human capital.
"We will engage with more startups in Southeast Asia, particularly in Cambodia, Lao, Myanmar and Vietnam, and bring them to set up and run joint-developments in Thailand by leveraging the use of Huawei's OpenLab in Bangkok," said Mr Pun-Arj.
Bangkok ranked as the No.1 startup destination regionally and seventh worldwide, according to a NIA study conducted among Thais.
The new Startup Act which is expected to be introduced this year, is targeted to drive co-investment between locals and foreigners.
Chularat Tanprasert, executive vice-president of NSTDA, said the MoU with Huawei covers research and development exchange in deep technologies, robotics, smart cities and medical devices.
The collaboration also provides support in the Eastern Economic Corridor of Innovation, covering biopolis, biotechnology, autonomous robotics, intelligent systems and digital information technology.
Guo Ping, deputy chairman of the board and rotating chairman of Huawei Technologies, said Thailand has made significant progress in building ICT infrastructure, and it is now approaching the peak of cross-industry development.
To transform the country to digital economy, Mr Ping said four digital layers are required. The first layer is ICT infrastructure, which is the foundation of digital economy.
Second is security assurance, including real world and cybersecurity. The third layer is industry digitisation and the fourth or highest layer is the "digital brain" -- realising unified digital management of first cities and then the entire country.
"Governments need to take the lead, industries need to proactively do their part, and individuals need to work to improve their digital skills. Huawei is ready to work with Asia-Pacific countries to build this digital ecosystem," he said.
Huawei has over 100 smart cities initiatives globally, including Thailand.
At OpenLab Bangkok, the company has co-developed safe city usage cases, including smart surveillance with the Royal Thai Police and smart metering with the Provincial Electricity Authority.
Science and Technology minister Suvit Maesincee said innovation is a key to economic growth.
Key technologies include artifical intelligence, augmented reality and automation, blockchain (used, for example, in keeping medical records), cloud technologies and big data analytics.
"We are now entering Web 3.0, which is the internet of value. In 2018, there are nine major digital economy shifts. The power of digital technology will drive the shift from a centralised, hierarchical structure to a multi-layered, poly-centric governance," said Mr Suvit.
"Financial capitalism will shift to data capitalism. The changes will be more transformative than incremental."
Democracy will change from representative democracy to collaborative democracy, he said.