DES Ministry asks US firms for advanced tech support

DES Ministry asks US firms for advanced tech support

Buddhipongse: US firms curious
Buddhipongse: US firms curious

The Digital Economy and Society (DES) Ministry has sought the cooperation of US tech giants to support technology and investment in the country's Digital Valley project in Chon Buri.

DES Minister Buddhipongse Punnakanta visited various US tech firms during the ministry's roadshow for the project from Jan 14-22.

More than 1 billion baht of foreign cash is expected to be injected in the scheme, which forms part of the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC), the minister said.

Artificial intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT) and cybersecurity were among the advanced tech in which the ministry sought cooperation from the firms.

"The Thai government needs to attract leading tech firms to invest in the valley, making them aware of the country's potential for technology, which could serve as a hub in the region," said Mr Buddhipongse.

The government plans to pursue a new smart cities project in the EEC and this could be a major opportunity for tech giants, he said.

The ministry and Microsoft Thailand plan to sign a memorandum of understanding to establish an "AI-IoT Insider" lab in the valley, overseen by Digital Economy Promotion Agency. The edifice sits in the Digital Park area in Sri Racha district.

The investment deal is worth 200 million baht, said Mr Buddhipongse.

"Microsoft has been investing in Thailand for a long time and they are aware of Thailand's potential to be the centre of innovation and technology in Asean," he said.

Cisco Systems, an American technology conglomerate, is also considering investing in an innovation centre in the EEC, said Mr Buddhipongse. The firm is interested in telehealth, cybersecurity and 5G technologies as well as a smart city scheme.

Seagate, a hard-disk drive maker, indicated interest in investing in cloud computing and software development in Asean.

A source at the DES Ministry who requested anonymity said some US tech firms are interested in investing in data centres in Thailand, which have high data traffic because of the popularity of social media use.

The source indicated data centre investment is likely to amount to 30 billion baht, possibly employing 1,000 people.

Mr Buddhipongse also visited Amazon Web Services, a provider of cloud computing platforms, to observe the technology used. He also toured Facebook and Google, where he sought cooperation to help take down illegal content and fake news quickly following court orders. Facebook and Google are interested in promoting online sales among Thai small businesses, said Mr Buddhipongse.

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