Depa to aid small business in accessing digital platforms

Depa to aid small business in accessing digital platforms

The Digital Economy Promotion Agency (Depa) aims to strengthen 500 small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) by helping them access digital platforms created by local startups this year.

The move is in line with Depa's roadmap to create digital platforms that will benefit local enterprises and communities, levelling up the tech startup ecosystem in the country.

Selected SMEs are eligible for Depa's subsidy, which will provide a 60% discount on the cost of joining digital solutions or platforms created by startups supported by the agency.

Depa recently chose eight local startups to support via its angel fund with a combined sum of 20 million baht.

The eight represent the first batch of startups under Depa's angel fund promotion in 2021.

These startups are from the fields of education tech, fintech, healthcare tech and data platforms.

Depa president and chief executive Nuttapon Nimmanphatcharin said the eight were selected from more than 60 startups that sought Depa's financial support last year.

Most of the applicant startups were disqualified because the type of business was too general or poor financial audits, he said.

Through the angel fund, startups that are 1-3 years old receive 1 million baht in funding, while those that have been operating for 3-5 years receive 5 million.

The fresh outbreak forced Depa to focus more on promoting provincial startups so they can develop digital tools that can assist them in weathering this difficult period, said Mr Nuttapon.

"SMEs need digital platforms to enable them to cope with changes in customer behaviour and come up with business models and new operations," he said.

Many businesses may need to make operational changes that concern point-of-sales systems, delivery and digital queuing systems, said Mr Nuttapon.

Depa aims to provide financial support to 70 startups throughout 2021, up from 50 in 2020.

The agency set aside 100 million baht to support these 70 startups and investments could begin in early February, he said.

These startups must operate their business in five fields that can potentially boost the country's technology and infrastructure. They comprise agricultural tech; education tech; finance; tourism and healthcare; and digital services, including e-commerce and delivery.

Depa has yet to ascertain the total number of provincial startups that could receive grants and is open to any interested startups that may wish to consider applying.

Local startups should prepare for participation in the assistance programme, said Mr Nuttapon.

He said Depa received an allocated budget of about 1 billion baht in 2021, but it has only around 300 million to spend on internal operations and startup support as the remainder is for fixed expenses and budget obligations, such as the construction of buildings.

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