NIA's 3-point plan to spark startup nation

NIA's 3-point plan to spark startup nation

The National Innovation Agency aims to have 1,000 new local startups by 2021.
The National Innovation Agency aims to have 1,000 new local startups by 2021.

The National Innovation Agency (NIA) has outlined three strategies to help Thailand become a startup nation by positioning it as an Asean hub for expansion.

By 2021, Thailand aims to have 1,000 new local startups employing 50,000 high-skilled workers. It wants startups to create 5% of GDP in Thailand by then.

Pun-arj Chairatana, executive director of NIA, said the agency will focus on strengthening Thailand's startup ecosystem to attract global investment.

Thailand needs to improve the availability of advanced tech startups over the next three years.

The government started promoting startups to drive an innovative economy in 2016, creating awareness among business and venture capital firms (VCs).

The funding size from VCs investing in Thailand is estimated at US$1.2 billion (38.8 billion baht), up from $600 million in 2016, and there are 700 active local startups.

When early-stage startups of university students are included, there are 2,000 startups in total.

To achieve the goal of becoming a startup nation in 2019 and position Thailand as a global startup platform in Asia by 2021, the NIA will focus on three areas.

First, build more innovative startups and a greater variety of startups.

Second, increase investment by VCs to $10-100 million per deal instead of the current $3-5 million.

Third, make Thailand a destination for international startups.

The NIA will join forces with True Digital Park in the Punnawithi area, setting up a "landing pad for global startups" that will provide co-working space and smart visas.

The agency has partnered with the governments of Germany, France, Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Chile and Austria.

"We have invited selected startups to land here in Thailand," Mr Pun-arj said.

The NIA will join with Huawei Technology to open a startup landing pad at the Huawei office on Rama IX Road.

Mr Pun-arj said that if the National Startup Act becomes effective before the election, startups will have more incentives.

The government will offer two funding channels for grants and investment in select startups.

Mr Pun-arj said the NIA website (www.startupthailand.org) will apply e-KYC (electronic Know Your Customer) next year to help startups identify customers.

"This can be an effective platform for the startup marketplace for the government as well," he said.


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