Depa plans fund to develop digital champions

Depa plans fund to develop digital champions

B100m package to help startups develop

The government plans to increase the number of active digital startups in the country to 10,000 by 2027, up from 2,000 this year.

Nuttapon: Support essential for startups

The move aims to help develop new-economy national champions that will help propel the nation to the next level of competitiveness.

To support the government's target, the Digital Economy Promotion Agency (Depa) will create a 100-million-baht fund, which could take at least 20 active startups to market by next year.

Depa will also host an international expo called Asia Digital Expo 2018 on Jan 25-27, which is expected to attract 10,000 participants in digital-related sectors and generate more than 400 investor-startup deals.

Depa president Nuttapon Nimmanphatcharin said young Thais have ideas that can be translated into successful business models, and many existing domestic startups have great opportunity to cash in on the market. But support, including through collaboration with global players, is still essential, he added.

The Ministry of Digital Economy and Society, through Depa, is accelerating its efforts to support the startups ecosystem through financial and non-financial incentives.

Depa is set to launch the startup fund package in January 2018, according to Mr Nuttapon. The 100-million-baht budget was officially approved in July, and will be generated by the government this month.

The 100-million-baht package is divided into four categories of startups development: 20 million baht of startup vouchers; 20 million of startup fund; 25 million of startup growth fund; and 35 million of digital transformation fund.

In 2018, the voucher programme aims to provide 400 idea-stage startups with 50,000 baht each to help them develop their ideas into business models.

"Currently, there are approximately 250 idea-stage startups under Depa's incubator programme, but they should number around 400 by April 2018," he said.

The 20-million-baht startup fund will inject money into 20 of the 400 startups to further develop their business models into companies. Each of these startups will be given 1 million baht, which will have to be returned to Depa three years after receiving the support.

The 25-million-baht startup growth fund will provide financial support to five startups out of 20 to help them start providing services to market. Each startup will get 5 million baht, which will also have to be returned to Depa three years after receiving the support.

The 35-million-baht digital transformation fund will channel financial support to spur digitally-driven activities in related industries to promote digital ecosystems in all sectors of the economy.

Depa will provide another 50 million baht for an international spending fund for startups, according to Mr Nuttapon. The fund will ease travel and accommodation expenses for startups looking to contact customers abroad.

The international spending fund will provide a maximum of 200,000 baht for each startup, which will have to submit purchasing order and proofs that they contacted their customers abroad after receiving the support, said Mr Nuttapon.

Depa's Asia Digital Expo in January at the Queen Sirikit Convention Center will run under the theme of digital transformation and showcase the latest ICT innovations. It will bring together dozens of leaders in the global digital industry with domestic players.

The expo will also include a number of seminars and an ICT-related job fair.

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