Thailand's ranking in the Global Innovation Index (GII 2023) remains unchanged at 43rd for a third consecutive year because of a lack of human capital and an unfavourable institutional and regulatory environment, according to the World Intellectual Property Organization (Wipo).
In response to this development, the National Innovation Agency (NIA) plans to establish a matching fund of 50 million baht to accelerate the creation of more startups and support spin-offs from universities to commercialise their innovations.
In addition, the Intellectual Property Department plans to embrace artificial intelligence to accelerate its patent approvals.
These efforts are meant to elevate Thailand's GII ranking to the top 30 by 2030.
"We are stuck in 43rd for three consecutive years," said Krithpaka Boonfueng, executive director of the NIA.
Thailand fared well in terms of private investment in R&D, but rated poorly for human capital and outdated regulations.
The top 10 this year comprised: Switzerland, Sweden, US, UK, Singapore, Finland, the Netherlands, Germany, Denmark and South Korea.
Supamas Isarabhakdi, the higher education, science, research and innovation minister, said innovation promotion needs to become a national agenda item.
She said Thailand could reach the top 30 if the government creates a sandbox to accelerate innovations, increases investment in innovation connected to research, strengthens the finance and capital markets in terms of technology, boosts the number of innovation-based entrepreneurs, and upgrades patents and creativity in innovation and culture.
Ms Krithpaka said to spike the number of innovation-based enterprises, the NIA will use its own budget and funding from the Technology and Innovation-Based Enterprise Development Fund to offer a matching fund, starting at 50 million baht this year and rising to 70 million in 2024. The fund will invest in potential startups at the seed stage of funding and Series A funding by co-investing with the Thai Venture Capital Association, she said.
"The NIA will not take a share in these startups. When they make a profit, they can return the grant," said Ms Krithpaka.
Wipo also unveiled its top 100 science and technology clusters. The top five are all located in East Asia, including Tokyo-Yokohama in Japan and Shenzhen-Hong Kong-Guangzhou in China. The Bangkok cluster had the greatest increase, but is not ranked in the top 100.
Kaywalee Chatdarong, vice-president for strategic planning, innovation and global engagement at Chulalongkorn University, said universities are focusing on creating innovations and entrepreneurs for the 21st century. The university created a holding company, spun off companies or set up joint ventures for innovation-driven enterprises.
Nutchanika Jittnarong, an industrial property expert at the Department of Intellectual Property, said this year the department is embracing AI to accelerate its working process related to trademarks, image searches and patents.
"We have received 8,000 patents yearly and approved 4,500 of which 450 were from Thais. We aim to reduce the approval process from 59 to 55 months or faster."
Moreover, the department increased the number of auditors from 24 to 100, said Ms Nutchanika.
Asa Piwkhum, director for business and innovation development at the Creative Economy Agency, said soft power helps attract talent to stay in Thailand and increases the number of startups or innovative enterprises.
Moreover, Thailand needs to have an agency to be responsible for gathering creative product data to improve Thailand's GII ranking.