Govt to give grants to boost R&D

Govt to give grants to boost R&D

Measure to stem impact of Covid-19

The government will provide grants and tax exemptions to private companies in a bid to promote research and development (R&D), especially for projects that serve the public interest.

Kitipong: Wants sustainable growth

The Office of National Higher Education Science Research and Innovation Policy Council (NXPO) unveiled the government's plan to boost R&D to cushion the impact of the coronavirus outbreak.

Kitipong Promwong, the office director, said an agency survey showed R&D investments amounted to 182 billion baht or 1.1% of the country's GDP last year, up by 17.5% from the previous year.

"However, the outbreak is forecast to reduce R&D investments to 1.09% of our GDP [166 billion baht] this year and undermine our competitive edge in the long run. Therefore, the government will offer matching grants to companies working on projects serving public interest such as the manufacturing of drugs," he told a briefing on Thursday at the head office.

According to the NXPO, R&D expenditure by the private sector is projected to fall from 78% last year to 71% this year due to the pandemic.

Mr Kitipong said the government will also offer corporate income tax exemptions to over 80 private companies in exchange for their donation of around one billion baht to the innovation fund for SMEs and for creating an investment ecosystem. This will help maintain the country's current ease of doing business standard as well as help ensure the continuity of the government's current policies.

Despite the impact of the coronavirus crisis, Mr Kitipong said R&D expenditure will climb to 2% of GDP and likely exceed the United Kingdom [at 1.26%] by 2027 because R&D investments in developed countries have already plateaued.

"To achieve this goal, future research should fall well within our plan for higher education, science, research, and innovation. Our revised draft policy aims to promote human security, local communities, the bio, circular and green (BCG) economy, and innovation-based industries," he said, before adding that the revised draft is expected to be finished by next month.

He said the BCG economy model will be a key national strategy for ensuring the sustainable future growth of the country in line with the sufficiency economy philosophy.

"As an example of this, we are upgrading to smart farming and diversifying food products such as the use of functional ingredients. We are also innovating in healthcare tools and services so we can become a genomics hub. Besides tourism, we are also pushing for a circular economy by reducing food waste throughout the entire supply chain," he said.

However, R&D will not be limited to these sectors. Mr Kitipong said the agency is also promoting frontier research in quantum and space technology projects by allocating a seed fund of 200 million baht to visionary researchers.

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