BoI looks to innovation, high tech for new strategy

BoI looks to innovation, high tech for new strategy

BoI secretary-general Duangjai Asawachintachit
BoI secretary-general Duangjai Asawachintachit

The Board of Investment (BoI) looks set to revise Thailand's strategic investment promotion plan to make it align with updated national and global trends.

The new strategic investment plan is scheduled for implementation in early 2023 after the current eight-year plan expires in December 2022.

The current plan was originally planned for seven years, between 2015 and 2021. On Dec 20 the BoI board approved a one-year extension of the plan to Dec 31, 2022.

According to BoI secretary-general Duangjai Asawachintachit, various global investment trends have changed, such as greenhouse gas emission requirements, evolving technology and the impact of Covid-19 outbreaks.

Other trends that have risen in importance include R&D, bio-, circular and green (BCG) economic development, and medical and S-curve industries.

The BoI needs to improve Thailand's investment policy for enhanced competitiveness and to conform with real investment situations, she said.

Investment applications in recent years will be used as guidelines for new strategic investment promotion plans, said Ms Duangjai.

"Over the last several years, we've found there were many investment applications that asked us for incentives, but the businesses were outside the BoI's investment promotion categories," she said.

According to Ms Duangjai, the new strategic plan aims to upgrade Thailand in terms of high technology, focusing mainly on R&D, the BCG economic model, the medical and wellness sector, and S-curve industries.

"The agency will continue to promote new S-curve industries, which is the government's priority policy to adjust Thailand's manufacturing to higher technology," she said.

"The policy to drive R&D will be continued because it is the key factor to upgrade innovation."

Amid ongoing efforts to enhance Thailand's position as a regional medical hub, the board approved investment promotion zone status for the Yothi Medical Innovation District, a new National Innovation Agency initiative located in downtown Bangkok.

The district aims to build on Thailand's internationally recognised medical capacity in terms of personnel, knowledge and technology.

This initiative promotes increased cooperation between institutions and the private sector to develop deep tech and attract medical startups and innovations in promising fields such as telemedicine and precision medicine, said the BoI.

The area comprises seven hospitals with a combined 7,000 beds, six medical schools, and 4,600 medical staff.

This new measure will entitle investments in the targeted sectors to an additional five years of a 50% corporate income tax reduction if the companies collaborate with educational or research institutions in the area to develop deep tech and relevant human resources, said the BoI.

The board also granted the status of science and technology park to the entire campus of the Asian Institute of Technology (AIT), and to dedicated areas of the Thailand Institute of Scientific and Technological Research (TISTR).

Established in 1959, the AIT is a leading regional postgraduate institution offering master's and doctoral degree programmes, as well as research facilities in several technology fields.

TISTR was set up in 1963 to conduct research into science and technology and to enhance national competitiveness.

Qualified investments in AIT and TISTR enjoy special incentives, including corporate income tax discounts.

Ms Duangjai said the BoI is scheduled to conclude investment applications for 2021 in February next year.

The board feels upbeat about this year's investment prospects, she said, projecting applications to reach 600 billion baht by year-end, close to their value in 2019.

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