NSTDA allots B5bn for bio-circular-green projects

NSTDA allots B5bn for bio-circular-green projects

From left Julathep Kajornchaiyakul, executive director of the National Metal and Materials Technology Center; Mr Narong; Somvong Tragoonrung, executive director of the National Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology; Wannee Chinsirikul, executive director of the National Nanotechnology Center; and Chai Wutiwiwatchai, executive director of the National Electronics and Computer Technology Center.
From left Julathep Kajornchaiyakul, executive director of the National Metal and Materials Technology Center; Mr Narong; Somvong Tragoonrung, executive director of the National Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology; Wannee Chinsirikul, executive director of the National Nanotechnology Center; and Chai Wutiwiwatchai, executive director of the National Electronics and Computer Technology Center.

Nearly 5 billion baht has been earmarked for the National Science and Technology Development Agency (NSTDA) to further projects geared towards a bio-circular-green (BCG) economy, along with the food, medical, energy and tourism sectors.

"In 2020, we plan to add value to the country's real sector, helping Thailand escape from the middle-income trap that has prevailed the past four decades," said Narong Sirilertworakul, president of the NSTDA.

The agency attaches importance to research projects supporting five strategic industries: food, health/medicine, energy/materials, biochemistry and tourism.

The government expects the BCG economy to increase the country's GDP by 30% in the next five years to 1 trillion baht.

Regarding biotechnology, the focus will be on the biorefinery process, whereby farm waste is turned into biochemicals.

The NSTDA will receive a budget of 3.2 billion baht from 2020 to 2022 to build a pilot biorefinery plant in the Eastern Economic Corridor of Innovation.

Efforts will also be made to develop tools to produce medical cannabis.

In early 2020, the NSTDA will showcase its autonomous vehicles -- six-seater golf carts with a maximum speed of 35 kilometres per hour -- for use at property projects.

Regarding nanotech in the medical industry, practitioners can use micro/nano needles for ailment diagnosis and treatment.

By mid-2020, the equipment will be on a trial basis for measuring blood sugar.

"Our National Nanotechnology Centre will collaborate with the National Electronics and Computer Technology Centre to embrace artificial intelligence for lung cancer diagnosis," Mr Narong said.

The NSTDA plans to push sensing technologies in farming in the eastern provinces of Rayong and Chanthaburi, where 80% of the area is orchards, mainly for durian and mangosteen.

Sensing technologies are part of precision agriculture, which provides data to help farmers monitor and optimise crops.

The technology is expected to contribute to 1 billion baht in productivity and yield increases, Mr Narong said.

In material science, green and safe rubber latex will be produced and possibly used for motorbikes and trucks.

The NSTDA will also work with the National Metal and Materials Technology Center to expand biodegradability testing labs to support the green economy, including packaging, plastics and rubber.

In order to drive BCG forward, the government needs to stave off legal hurdles and invests in biobanks and high-performance computing, as well as upskill the workforce and collaborate with international alliances.

"We hope the economic impact will rise greater than five times from the received budget," Mr Narong said.


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