Research spending boosted

Research spending boosted

Spending on research and development will increase to 1% of gross domestic product by 2018 to ensure Thailand doesn’t lag behind international competitors, Deputy Prime Minister Prajin Juntong has said.

The government wants to raise expenditures on R&D to boost the country’s competitiveness in science and innovation, he said, speaking after the launch of the “Research for Community” project by the National Research Council of Thailand (NRCT) last week.

Spending on R&D in Thailand this year was about 40 billion baht, or 0.48-0.5% of GDP, he said. To hit the 1% target by 2018, the government will incentivise the private sector to raise R&D spending by offering tax privileges.

The government currently allows private companies tax deductions of 300%, having increased from 200% last December, of money spent on R&D.

As a result, private sector R&D spending has increased steadily and now contributes about half the total, he said.

Mr Prajin said research and development is essential for Thai companies if the country wants to compete on the global stage. The government will also increase the R&D budget for research institutes, he said.

Sukunya Theerakullert, deputy secretary-general of the NRCT, said money is not the biggest obstacle to increasing R&D in Thailand, since the 40 billion baht spent this year is a record high. A shortage of researchers to conduct R&D will be a bigger challenge, she said.

Ms Sukunya said more skilled researchers are needed to fuel innovations, ideally increasing the ratio of eight researchers for every 100,000 in the population to 15.

The NRCT last week allocated a budget of 40 million baht under the project to 20 universities nationwide. The universities will try and use innovation and technology gained through R&D to benefit Thai communities.

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