Accelerator for innovation proposed

Accelerator for innovation proposed

Mr Weerapong says an innovation platform is essential.
Mr Weerapong says an innovation platform is essential.

In a bid to pool innovation resources and rely less on fragmented research and innovation budgets, the National Innovation Agency (NIA) plans to propose a National Innovation System (NIS) accelerator platform.

NIA expects to propose the NIS accelerator following the establishment of the new Higher Education, Innovation, Research and Science Ministry, said Weerapong Pairsuwan, chairman of the National Innovation Board.

NIS will be the framework for a national platform of innovation to unify fragmented research projects and budgets, moving towards national goals as well as avoiding redundancy, he said.

Mr Weerapong said in this fiscal year, NIA received a budget of 343 million baht, of which 216 million was allocated to strategic agendas, including the development and support of new entrepreneurs, startups and innovative SMEs. Funds were also spent on the Thematic Innovation project as well as social and community innovation development projects.

NIA will continue to focus on the growth mechanism of innovators at all levels by providing funds, offering partnerships with universities and incubation, promoting innovation and setting up business matching for local startups. It also wants to expand internationally and encourage more collaboration between local and international startups.

In the meantime, the agency continues to use the "Yothi Innovation District" as a test bed for a regulatory sandbox that allows developers to build innovation products or services to reduce pain points for patients, medical staff and citizens who live there.

One example is sharing MRI equipment among hospitals in order to reduce waiting time as well as solve parking space shortages. The regulatory sandbox should also help to eliminate regulation barriers.

A budget will be allocated to fund developers through a collaboration with Thailand Embedded System Association and partners under the Health Utopia programme to improve quality of life in the Yothi Innovation District, he said.

The NIA also provided the regional district with 22 million baht for the Innovation Entrepreneur Development Project in the South.

Mr Weerapong said to promote Thailand as innovative nation, the government needs to build an entire ecosystem that encourages universities, researchers and startups to be innovation entrepreneurs by enabling them to access capital, helping them turn ideas or research projects into prototypes, then reaching commercial production and eventually marketing.

In addition, the country needs to remove laws and regulations that obstruct innovation in order to attract more investment as well as co-investment with innovation entrepreneurs. Attempts must be made to change government procurement to widen opportunities for startups and entrepreneurs, he said.

"We cannot become an innovation nation unless we create a culture for it," said Mr Weerapong.

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