State planning to spend B24bn on R&D next year

State planning to spend B24bn on R&D next year

The government has earmarked a combined 24.4 billion baht for spending on R&D in fiscal 2022, up from 19.9 billion in fiscal 2021.

According to Kitipong Promwong, director of the Office of National Higher Education Science Research and Innovation Policy Council (NXPO), the proposed budget received the green light from the cabinet last Tuesday.

Mr Kitipong said the R&D spending for 2022 would focus largely on creating innovation for commercial purposes, strengthening competitiveness in the production and service sectors, narrowing income disparity and upgrading technology.

As Thailand faces many challenges in terms of social problems, poverty, income disparity and economic competitiveness, the government sees it as imperative for R&D to help tackle such problems, he said.

According to Mr Kitipong, the spending would also focus on developing "product champions", especially in the area of medical equipment relating to protection against the pandemic; future mobility, such as electric vehicle (EV) batteries and next-generation automobiles; and artificial intelligence.

He said the country's overall spending on R&D in 2021 is estimated to reach 270 billion baht, making up 1.5% of GDP, led mainly by the private sector, which is expected to account for 70% of spending on R&D.

In 2020, overall R&D spending was estimated at 166 billion baht, or 1.09% of GDP.

The private sector contributed 71% with the remainder coming from the government sector.

NXPO forecasts the nation's R&D spending to hit 400 billion baht or 2% of GDP in 2027, 70% of which would be allocated by the private sector.

"The government is establishing a holding company to support and promote R&D spending in the country," said Mr Kitipong.

The government is hopeful this move will help attract more investment from the private sector, he said.

NXPO suggests the state let existing educational institutions use their own income to support innovation and improve regulations to promote R&D investment among universities. Five universities -- Chulalongkorn, Thammasat, Mahidol, Chiang Mai, and King Mongkut's University of Technology Thonburi -- already have holding firms that tend to focus on R&D.

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