Depa fund to help startups shield intellectual property

Depa fund to help startups shield intellectual property

The Digital Economy Promotion Agency (Depa) will establish an intellectual property fund this year to encourage startups in the digital industry to secure their innovations via IP registration.

The move aims to strengthen the local startup ecosystem and promote active digital startups in the country to reach 10,000 firms by 2027, from 2,000 at present.

Through a collaboration with the Department of Intellectual Property (DIP), the IP fund will subsidise 50% of all related costs of registration. Initially, some 50 startups in digital industry are expected to be supported by the end of this year.

Depa president Nuttapon Nimmanphatcharin said digital innovation includes inventions in hardware, software, digital content, digital services and communications equipment.

"Creating IP awareness among local startups and encouraging them to realise the importance of registration are critical factors in a value-based economy," Mr Nuttapon said.

He said tech startups are the "warriors" of the new economy and the government must support them by protecting their IP.

Depa and the DIP signed a memorandum of understanding in April to promote IP registration for digital startups and encourage them to move towards commercialisation.

Mr Nuttapon said the fee for IP registration is inexpensive, about 1,000 baht or a bit higher, but the highest costs are related to legal documents that require the assistance of specialists to explain technical specifications and translate them into English.

"The cost of legal documents and the advisory task for technical detail translation runs from 100,000 baht to 1 million baht in some cases," he said.

Depa was assigned by the government to increase the number of tech startups and improve the nation's competitiveness. The agency started injecting 100 million baht into developing startups last year and is expected to have at least 20 active new startups by the end of 2018.

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

The 20 million baht for startup vouchers will support some 400 digital startups in the idea stage, with each given 50,000 baht to develop ideas into a business model.

The 20 million baht for the startup fund will help 20 of the 400 startups further develop their business model into a real business and set up their company. The startups will be given 1 million baht each, but they have to return the 1 million baht to Depa over the next three years.

The 25 million baht for the startup growth fund will help five of the 20 startups invest and expand their business, with each getting 5 million baht that they must return to Depa over the next three years.

The 35 million baht for the digital transformation fund will be offered for activities in all related industries to promote the digital ecosystem.

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