Thai Science, Technology and Innovation

Thailand Science Park

By Asina Pornwasin
With the capacity of Thailand in science, technology and innovation (STI), the country has the potential to become a leading member of the Asean community – and STI is a key to helping Thailand escape from the middle-income trap by 2030, Deputy Prime Minister Yongyuth Yuthavong has said.
Speaking at KPI International Club event on Friday that examined Thailand’s scientific and technological readiness ahead of full implementation of the Asean Economic Community next year, Yongyuth said the country’s scientific, technological and innovative capacities have to be ramped up and education is key to achieving that.He said that only through sustained effort could Thailand succeed in escaping the “middle-income trap” and achieve developed-country status in the next 15 years.”What we need to do is change our mindset. It is not just Thailand, but Asean as well. Set our mind on big issues such as consideration of global issues,” he said.Yongyuth said that at the end of next year Asean communities would unite politically, economically and socio-culturally. Following this scenario, science and technology should be integrated across Asean and beyond.

He said that collaboration in STI was recommended for Asean countries in order to cluster and integrate through private-public participation. This was a win-win situation, and Thailand could take a giant leap in the world through Asean integration.

“Asean countries, with their common heritage but diverse cultures and distinct common background, have many things in common including their outlook on life and society in general, as well as interests in trade, industry, agriculture, and so on,” he said.

He said that they also had a common interest in growing science and technology and applying it to development.

To move forward, he highlighted the importance of education. It led to scientific literacy, which provided a “window to the world” through which economies could select what to make, export, and import.

“An educated society is better equipped to address poverty, energy, and other challenges. Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, and other Asian nations are examples of success in escaping the middle-income trap and entering developed-country status,” he said.

Yongyuth said that research and development was also crucial in driving the country forwards.

He said that R&D transformed resources into a body of knowledge and applications, while education’s role was to turn that knowledge and those applications into social benefits including economic, social, and environmental benefits.

In Thailand, he said the National Science and Technology Development Agency played a role as partner for research and innovation to promote it and enhance the country’s competitiveness.

NSTDA director Thaweesak Koanantakool said the body supported small and medium-sized enterprises in labour, skills, technology, and R&D incentives because they were a priority for the government.

Thaweesak said the infrastructure support afforded to SMEs included Thailand Science Park and human resource support such as technical training, seminars, and a specialist database.

The financial support included research funding, soft loans with low interest rates, joint investments, and a 200-per-cent tax deduction for R&D expenses.

The technology and technical support included contract research, joint research, testing and analytical services, lab test certification, industrial consultancy services, technology information and acquisitions, and technology licensing services.

Thaweesak said the business support included intellectual property services, the Technology Licensing Office, business matching, visa and work permit assistance, and privileges and incentives coordination.

He said the NSTDA had supporting mechanisms for various stakeholders across a wide range of businesses – from technology business aspirers and technology start-ups to SMEs and large organisations – with financial, technological and resource support provided.

For example, Thailand Science Park was set to become a hub of innovation in the country. The park provided access to infrastructure, capital knowledge, and an R&D network.

“The park offers R&D collaborations among the private sector, NSTDA researchers, NSTDA laboratories, and partner universities,” Thaweesak said.

Amaret Bhumiratana, director of the Royal Golden Jubilee PhD programme at the Thailand Research Fund, said the international collaboration would benefit Thailand’s research output and impact, if the Kingdom promoted an effective mobility programme.

Amaret said that for this to happen Thailand must create a joint research network and a joint research centre. Joint research projects must address niches and solve Thailand’s economic and social problems.

Amaret said that Thai and foreign researchers must collaborate as equal partners including in intellectual funding.

“It has been well documented that successful research programmes usually have to be multi-disciplinary in nature and require extensive collaboration among researchers,” he said.

“The multi-disciplinary and collaborative research programmes can be achieved through the effective operation of research networks.”

Friday’s seminar was organised by the King Prajadhipok Institute’s international programme office.

Source: The Nation September 22, 2014


Categories: Economies, Innovation

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