Nexpie to feed IoT demand, spin research projects into startups

Nexpie to feed IoT demand, spin research projects into startups

Internet Thailand (Inet) Plc has formed a joint venture with former researchers of the National Electronics and Computer Technology Center (Nectec) to establish Nexpie Co, the first local Internet of Things (IoT) cloud platform.

The move, spearheaded by the Science and Technology Ministry, is intended to spin research projects into startups and bolster Thailand's maker community.

Wanchai Vach-shewadumrong, deputy managing director of Inet, said the subsidiary Mandara Communication Co has invested 30% in Nexpie, while a team of former Nectec researchers holds the remaining stake.

The venture has 1 million baht in registered capital. The partners aim to commercialise the two-year research project, earlier called Netpie. The project was granted approval for a licence from Nectec and the National Science and Technology Development Agency.

Netpie is a platform that facilitates connections of various smart devices, known as IoT. The platform provides tools and software libraries that accelerates the IoT development process, so developers can spend more time innovating and less time worrying about administration of back-end servers and data storage.

Netpie has been available for free public use since 2015, attracting 11,000 users and connecting 25,000 devices.

Netpie is offered free of charge to students and SMEs to build their IoT devices, with each developer able to use 100 devices per account.

Netpie has been used in Phuket's smart city, as well as melon, sugar-cane and mushroom farming greenhouses. The platform is also used to conduct preventive maintenance at a Nidec Shibaura Electronics Thailand Co factory.

Mr Wanchai, who is also managing director of Nexpie Co, said the joint venture firm is testing user acceptance with Inet's customers and the service is expected to be rolled out in the second quarter.

Nexpie is targeting the agriculture and manufacturing sectors that use sensors or other IoT devices to capture data for quality control.

Mr Wanchai said Nexpie is one of 20 firms under Mandara Communication Co, fully owned by iNet. The company, with 100 million baht in registered capital, leverages new services by drawing on utilisation of cloud and data centre services.

Mandara plans to invest in five areas: IoT, cybersecurity, electronic transactions, big data and infrastructure.

"Mandara will invest in up to 100 firms this year and will enable Inet to become a digital transformation service provider," Mr Wanchai said.

Science and Technology Minister Suvit Maesincee said the new joint venture is a major stepping stone for commercialising research projects.

"This will encourage more Thais to build IoT products and services," Mr Suvit said.

Having the IoT cloud platform service will help the maker community, system integrators and corporations to adopt IoT, develop innovations and improve their overall operations, he said.

The ministry will also promote the adoption of IoT equipment for coding among 1,000 secondary school students under the KidBright project.

KidBright is a circuit board that lets students do programming to control IoT devices using smartphones or web browsers.

"We will use science and technology to build new workforce skills, reduce poverty and strengthen business," Mr Suvit said.

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