State plans B20bn fund for start-ups

State plans B20bn fund for start-ups

The government plans to create a 20-billion-baht fund this year aimed at supporting start-up companies. The move is intended to help shift from traditional economic development strategies towards newer models.

The fund is slated to finance an existing 2,500 start-up firms in Thailand to accelerate innovation and expand into other Asean countries, said Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Minister Uttama Savanayana.

"We aim to increase the number of start-ups in Thailand to 10,000 by 2018," he said.

Of the total fund, the government will allocate 10 billion baht this year to the Finance Ministry and 10 billion to the ICT Ministry.

The Finance Ministry will set up a competitive fund to sponsor general start-up companies, while the ICT Ministry will set up a digital economy fund to back specific tech start-ups.

A joint working group, formed by both the Finance and Science and Technology ministries, is drafting formal conditions for start-up companies that wish to apply for financial support, said Mr Uttama.

"The year 2016 is a golden year for Thailand's start-up industry," he said.

Science and Technology Minister Pichet Durongkaveroj said the government has a clear strategic plan to support start-ups, not just with financial resources, but also by enhancing the capacity of Thailand's start-up ecosystem.

The state plans to set up "start-up zones" nationwide to promote new economic activities and sustain economic growth, he said.

Software Park Thailand, under the umbrella of the National Science and Technology Development Agency, is preparing to provide vouchers worth 40 million baht for tech start-ups to help grow their businesses and expand into new markets.

Start-ups can apply for a voucher at www.swpark.or.th/startupvoucher or register at the Start-up Thailand 2016 fair, which is scheduled to take place from April 28-May 1 at Queen Sirikit National Convention Center.

"We plan to provide financial support to 50 local tech start-ups, with 800,000 baht each," said a high-ranking source at Software Park Thailand.

Tech start-up companies which were established between January 2011 and December 2016 are eligible for the voucher project, the source said.

Teerachart Kortrakul, a member of board of directors at the Thailand Tech Start-up Association, said tech start-ups will drive the next wave of growth in Thailand's digital economy.

The association plans to submit a white paper to the government to ease regulations on the tech start-up industry. Some proposals to boost the sector include a capital gains tax waiver and additional tax incentives to attract more foreign investment in local start-ups.

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