Northeastern SMEs seen as vital 4.0 engine
Lower provinces enjoy solid networks
Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and startup firms in the Northeast are now a key engine for creating sustainable jobs and a potential driver for Thailand's 4.0 policy.
Provinces in lower parts of the Northeast such as Ubon Ratchathani, Khon Kaen and Maha Sarakham have strong networks of SMEs and startup entrepreneurs supported by the Science Park Promotion Agency (SPA) of the Science and Technology Ministry.
Science and Technology Minister Suvit Maesincee said the SPA of Ubon Rachathani University has built up more than 100 entrepreneurs, with more than 230 jobs created.
Revenue in the Northeast circulated by the SPA in Ubon Rachathani has reached 300 million baht.
"Thanks to the strong networking of affiliated universities in Ubon Ratchathani, Suranaree, Khon Kaen and Maha Sarakham, including Ratchabhat universities, the lower Northeast has one of the strongest SME and startup networks in Thailand," Mr Suvit said.
In 2012, the ministry and SPA started promoting SMEs and startups by focusing on developing the region to be the strategic hub of entrepreneurs in the region.
"We have been accelerating and also incubating SMEs to grow and strengthen [their presence] on the international stage," Mr Suvit said.
The minister recently visited Ubon Ratchathani University to discuss what areas should be promoted as part of the Thailand 4.0 policy.
Mr Suvit said smart farming of crickets appeared to be the most interesting sphere in that regard.
Smart cricket farming, which entails value-added products like high-protein goods, can attract interest from multinational firms, create jobs for locals and generate profits for the region, Mr Suvit said.
He said the university and SPA are providing knowledge for anyone who is interested in smart cricket farming, which is estimated to generate 2,000 baht a month for locals.
But while the activity offers lots of benefits for agricultural startups in Ubon Ratchathani, more improvements are needed, Mr Suvit said.
Chawalit Thinvongpituk, director of the Ubon Ratchathani University Science Park Office, said the university will expand the network to include Ubon Ratchathani Rajabhat University, Sisaket Rajabhat University and Surindra Rajabhat University to further aid entrepreneurs.