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Thai corporates waking up to key role of R&D

SCG president Kan Trakulhoon presents Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra a piece of motar, on which texture will prevail when sprayed on with water. In this piece is Yingluck's face. The magic mortar is one of new innovative products.

SCG president Kan Trakulhoon presents Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra a piece of motar, on which texture will prevail when sprayed on with water. In this piece is Yingluck's face. The magic mortar is one of new innovative products.

DuPont foresees rapid progress in research and development in Thailand, with growing awareness among Thai companies that innovation will be the key for their survival in the new world order.

At its innovation centre in Bangkok, which celebrates its second anniversary today, (Aug 16), 1,500 visitors from 300 companies have been seen, expressing their ideas and seeking consultation on how to commercialise them.

"The innovation centre in Bangkok is among the top three most active centres, among 11 around the world," Douglas Muzyka, chief science and technology officer of the global company, said on the sidelines of Siam Cement Group's "Thailand Innovation Forum" yesterday.

About 400 ideas were created during the centre's first two years, and some have been commercialised and some are in the process. According to the executive, the innovation centres have done their jobs in connecting scientists around the world. Some of the ideas could be passed on to DuPont's R&D centres globally.

Praising SCG for its focus on R&D, Muzyka said scientists at other Thai companies were becoming more active in commercialising their ideas. Importantly, those from Charoen Pokphand Group would be invited to join the DuPont's annual scientist conference in the US state of Iowa, as the only company from Thailand and Asia. They will meet with more than 1,000 DuPont scientists from around the world.

Products for the agriculture industry now contribute one-third of DuPont's sales revenue.

He noted that Thai companies could interact with the outside world. First, they can invest on their own technology, as SCG is doing. Then, make the impact of such technology bigger and bigger in the outside world. Over time, their scientists will learn that this is a viable career, and the companies can strengthen the scientist teams and technology.

Commercialisation

Muzyka is one of experts to share experiences on the R&D commercialisation at the SCG forum, hosted to bridge the gap between R&D in Thailand and the world.

SCG president Kan Trakulhoon said the networks to be created by this event should be a big push for the public and private sectors as well as research institutes to collaborate more. He also hopes that success stories of companies like DuPont and Samsung Electronics would inspire Thai companies, with affordability, to invest more in R&D. "If all are focused on commercialisation, emphasising science and technology, Thailand could advance and demonstrate sustainable development," he said.

In her opening speech, Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra said she was impressed with SCG's initiative. On the government's part, she promised to push ahead the task to realigning the work of seven research units, which are under at least three ministries. While this would reduce redundancy, it would also facilitate the allocation of budgets to serve national strategies.

She stressed the need for more R&D for the agricultural sector.

She admitted that Thailand's R&D was in a poor state, with only seven scientists for every 10,000 population, against the global average of 15.


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