B280m to support Thailand 4.0 startups

Chalermpol: Firms have to embrace IT

Software Park Thailand, a government agency under the Science and Technology Ministry, has allocated a budget of 280 million baht to sponsor and support local startups this year.

The move is part of the government's attempts to drive the Thailand 4.0 economic model, said Chalermpol Tuchinda, director of Software Park Thailand.

He said Software Park will play an integral role in supporting local startups as well as building new entrepreneurs from state university graduates.

The budget is slated to support the agency's existing two projects: the Startup voucher, free cash-equivalent vouchers worth 1 million baht each for qualified startups; and the Research Gap Fund, a funding for startups' business development.

Software Park obtained 80 million baht from the government to offer free vouchers to startups in 2017, up from 50 million last year.

The agency also obtained 200 million baht for the Research Gap fund from the Science and Technology Ministry to stimulate the creation of new entrepreneurs.

Mr Chalermpol said the Research Gap Fund will provide loans to finance 70% of a research project that is being prepared for commercialisation.

"Over 100 investment and development projects of local startups have been proposed to us for financial support and sponsorship," he said.

However, he added that a qualified startup project must be involved in the 10 new S-curve industries under the government's Thailand 4.0 development scheme.

Mr Chalermpol said there are at least 600 startups in Thailand, based on a database of companies listed on the Market Alternative Investment (MAI) stock market.

Most startups operate in sectors of agricultural, healthcare, food, logistics, travel and finance.

Mr Chalermpol also said companies in Thailand will soon have to embrace artificial intelligence technology, machine learning, data analytics, cloud computing, data security, Internet of Things, and enterprise resource planning.

These technologies enable companies to increase quantitative data-driven insights to make better business decisions.

Software Park will bring 12 local IT and startup companies to participate with CommunicAsia 2017, Asia's largest ICT event, which will take place in Singapore from May 23-25, to demonstrate their innovations under Thai Pavilion theme.

Mr Chalermpol said Software Park has participated with CommunicAsia event since 2012 in a drive to promote Thai software and startup industries.

Victor Wong, project director of CommunicAsia 2017, said this year's event will focus on the demonstration of digital transformation, augmented and virtual reality, robotics, artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, cloud, and Internet of Things.

The event will have a zone dedicated to startups for the first time, he added.

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