From its northernmost tip to its’ southernmost provinces the buzzword that everyone in Thailand is hearing at the moment is ‘Thailand 4.0’ – and the message that is being relayed is that the Kingdom’s future depends on the development of a more educated, technologically-adept workforce.
The video above was was recorded at the recent ”Startup Thailand, Scale UP Asia’ seminar between July 6 and 9 and takes a closer look at what Thailand is doing to develop itself as a hub for tech startups.
According to Thailand’s Minister of Science & Technology, Dr Atchaka Sibunruang, Thailand’s startup ecosystem is at its nascent stage, but the sector is steadily growing, with plans for more initiatives and incentives to support the growth of tech startups, promote innovation, and carry Thailand’s economy into the digital age.
To this end Ms Sibunruang highlighted the government’s efforts to collaborate with various universities and private companies to set up eleven innovation districts — seven of which are located in Bangkok and four others spread across the eastern region.
Siam Square is one such example of an innovation district. Developed with a budget of US$6.8 million, the district is joint collaboration between the Thailand government and Chulalongkorn University.
The government also intends to set up regulatory sandboxes to create a more conducive environment for tech start ups to develop fresh contents and test out new business models – which is an important step. Existing rules and regulations can hinder startups maximising their potential more than they help.
Among the initiatives that will be rolled out is the introduction of talent visas aimed at attracting fresh, innovative individuals with essential skills that add value to the tech startup ecosystem, increasing the talent pool of human resources available to employers.
To ensure that the shift to Industry 4.0 does not leave anyone behind, the Thailand government plans to work side-by-side with both public and private universities and vocational training centres, which will be ‘re-aligned’ to meet the requirements of tech startups – introducing classes and training in software engineering – as an example.
Dr Sibunruang believes that this is vital to ensure that there are enough employees to meet the demands of tech start ups in the Kingdom.
Last but not least, is the matter of funding. Developing Thailand’s human resources and infrastructure is no small budget affair. To assist the Kingdom’s aims the Ministry of Finance (MoF) has agreed to grant the necessary funds to the Ministry of Science and Technology (MoST) to help facilitate the implementation of these initiatives.
Additionally, the government is set to introduce a US$72 million Technology and Innovation-based Enterprise Development (TED) Fund to benefit the tech startup ecosystem.
Earlier this month AEC News Today published a report on how foreign tech startups in Thailand can obtain the highly prized Thailand Board of Investment (BoI) concessions, which include 100 per cent foreign ownership, easing of the 4:1 ratio of Thai to foreign employees, and as little as a 0 per cent corporate tax rate for the first eight years. (See: Is Bangkok Really Asia’s Startup Hub? – Navigating The Thailand BOI Process)
With all that is being said and done, there is little doubt that Thailand is rapidly trying to develop a healthier tech startup ecosystem. However, with many other countries also doing the same, it is equally clear that it is in a race. Whether its offerings are enough to achieve its aim of being the tech startup hub of Asean remains to be seen.
Feature video TechinAsia
- Thailand seeks to boost local startups with $150m fund (Gov Insider)
- Thailand announces 20 billion baht fund to boost start-up ecosystem (Intellasia.net)
- Thailand Tech Startup Ecosystem Q1 2017: Our report reveals the country’s statistics over 5 years (Tech Sauce)
- Big future for Thai tech startups (Bangkok Post)