Govt in Bt20 bn push for start-ups

Economy April 23, 2016 01:00

By JIRAPAN BOONNOON
THE NATION

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THE GOVERNMENT will establish a Bt20 billion budget through competitiveness and digital economy funds to help drive start-up companies.



It will announce next week a giveaway project under which fifty vouchers, worth Bt800,000 each, will be given to tech start-ups.

Meanwhile, the Information and Communications Technology Ministry plans to spend Bt15 billion to lay down broadband Internet coverage to 30,000 communities nationwide within a couple of years.

Pichet Durongkavaroj, the science and technology minister, said that to drive start-ups the ministry would cooperate with 11 government agencies and the private sector.

Pichet said the Finance Ministry had set up a Competitiveness Fund, which would focus on five categories, namely healthcare, financial technology, agricultural technology, tourism, and digital technology.

He said the government would also provide privileges to the private sector to invest in start-ups via venture capital funds such as tax exemptions and capital gains tax.

He added that the government would develop a so-called Start-up District to provide knowledge and leverage for start-ups.

Neighbouring countries

The government also aims to help start-ups penetrate Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, and Vietnam and other Asean markets.

Pichet said the ministry would set up the Start-up District at Siam Square in Bangkok and planned to establish other start-up districts upcountry such as in Chiang Mai province.

“The government aims to facilitate and create strength for start-ups in Thailand for their sustainable growth and to create competitiveness for the country as a whole,” he said.

ICT Minister Uttama Savanayana said his ministry planned to set up the Digital Economy Fund with a budget of Bt10 billion this year after the Digital Development Fund for the Economy and Society bill came into law.

The aim through the fund is to drive and support tech start-ups so they run smoothly and contribute to the economy and society.

The ministry will work with universities, such as Chulalongkorn University, King Mongkut’s Institute of Technology Lat Krabang, Bangkok University and Sripatum University, to set up a so-called digital incubator to boost industries like tourism, healthcare, robotics, and creative content.

Uttama said the government last week approved a budget of Bt15 billion to lay down the Internet broadband in 30,000 communities.

As a result, the minister said Internet broadband would cover 70,000 communities as it was already serving 40,000.

The government will announce the Bt800,000 |start-up voucher to provide “angel” funding to 50 tech start-ups next week at “Start-up Thailand 2016” at Queen Sirikit National Convention Centre in Bangkok.

The Cabinet last week approved three draft bills including one on computer-related crime, which includes amendments on what constitutes a computer crime as well as covering the relevant police authority and the compensation payments regulation for officials.

The second draft is for establishment of the Digital Development Fund for the Economy and Society, the Office of the Digital Economy and Society, and the Digital Development for the Economy and Society Committee.

The third draft covers the Organisation to Assign Radio Frequency and to Regulate Broadcasting and Telecommunications Services, which amends the National Broadcasting and Tele-communications Commission’s authority.

It also covers the abolishment of the NBTC and improvements in receiving permission to operate a frequency.

The three drafts will be submitted to the National Legislative Assembly next Friday.

Thailand now has between 1,000 and 2,000 start-ups.