PM goes to Depa, orders haste for Digital Valley

PM goes to Depa, orders haste for Digital Valley

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha on Wednesday assigned government officials to speed up the development of the Thailand Digital Valley in Chon Buri's Sri Racha district to firm up the country's credentials as a hub of technology and innovation for potential investors.

The Thailand Digital Valley is being developed out of a project formerly known as the Internet of Things (IoT) Institute, a core part of Digital Park Thailand in Chon Buri province.

Gen Prayut visited the Digital Economy Promotion Agency (Depa) to deliver policies to Depa's management and talk about the project with a group of startups.

The prime minister said he wants the valley to be a major incubation hub for local tech startups in critical sectors like agriculture tech, education tech, health tech and government tech.

"The government wants to see development of the Thailand Digital Valley in the Eastern Economic Corridor as a model to develop innovation and tech centres in other areas throughout the country," Gen Prayut said.

He said the new economy needs digital tech and innovation to complement existing industries and to increase incomes.

"Digital literacy is another critical need," Gen Prayut said. "Related agencies are trying to deliver digital knowledge to encourage small and medium-sized enterprises and local retailers entering digital platforms. Even me, I was a soldier and I needed to modernise myself with new teachings and innovation to keep up with our digitally driven economy."

At the meeting with local startups, he acknowledged some problems raised by representatives of startups, including state procurement getting in the way of promoting startups. Funding and market dumping continues to be a problem, as well as unfair advantages awarded to legacy businesses that stop local startups from developing properly.

Gen Prayut said the government is aware of the issues and will consider resolutions to ease the burden.

Buddhipongse Punnakanta, the digital economy and society (DES) minister, said the Thailand Digital Valley hosted by Depa will be a centre for showcases, R&D and training while serving as a community for global tech firms.

Thailand Digital Valley is in Phase 1 of construction, occupying 30 rai in Sri Racha.

The project also aims to be involved in the development of technologies like IoT, data science, artificial intelligence, robotics and cloud computing, with tech startups in the country paving the way for commercial products and services.

Thailand Digital Valley will be divided into five buildings, including offices for startups, a co-working space, a digital innovation and co-creation centre, and a digital edutainment complex.

The DES Ministry, Depa and CAT Telecom plan to do a roadshow in San Francisco and Seattle in November to attract tech firms to the Digital Park and Thailand Digital Valley, Mr Buddhipongse said.

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