CHULALONGKORN University plans to embark on what it calls a Siam Innovation District project in March entailing investment of about Bt1 billion over five years.
The project will occupy 10,000 square metres in the heart of Bangkok.
Natcha Thawesaengskuthai, assistant to the president for strategy and innovation at the university, said the institution had joined with partners under a public-private partnership model to transform the popular Siam Square area into an innovation hub, centred on the Siam Square One zone. The five-year project will be launched in March.
The Siam Innovation District will be established with four main areas, labelled by the organisers as marketplace, futurium, industry liaison, and talent building.
For the marketplace, the university “will work with partners to develop an innovation marketplace and innovation ecosystem in order to develop a network among experts, startups, entrepreneurs, developers, innovators and investors as well as matching and leveraging skills for those people”, Natcha said. It would also serve as an innovation one-stop service centre for the country.
“With the futurium, the project will showcase the future of smart cities and the future of Thailand, and offer exhibitions of cutting-edge innovations,” Natcha said.
“For industry liaison, the project will be facilitator to provide technology licensing, innovation spin-offs, research commercialisation, industry joint-project and industry sponsored research so that it would enable matching between innovators and business. As result, innovators will able to develop innovative products and services to support the demand of the market and industry.
For talent building, the project will focus on the development of human resources through workshops and events, competitions, mentorship networks and an incubator and accelerator programme. “There are around 120,000 visitors coming to the Siam Square area daily,” said Natcha. “The project will create a new opportunity, while turning the Siam Square area into a smart and intellectual community as well as innovation in the near future.”
The project will also help to develop innovation in four strategic areas: the ageing society, inclusive community and smart city, sustainable development, as well as the digital economy and robotics.
For the ageing society, the project will focus on developing innovation to support health innovation, including promoting friendly communities for the aged.
Meanwhile, the inclusive community and smart city will focus on a smart city scheme, cultural and fashion design, creative tourism as well as Asean lifestyle.
“With the sustainable development side, the project will aim to develop innovation to support urban and rural smart farming, food safety and food innovation and bio-energy,” Natcha said.
“Lastly, the digital economy and robotics will support digital technology initiatives, Big Data analytics, the Internet of Things, augmented reality, cyber security and health robotics.”
She said that the project in the first year will provide Bt100 million to support seed funding and a scale-up fund for Chulalongkorn students, staff, academics alumni participating in the project.
“I think that the innovation district will be a part to drive for the Thailand 4.0 scheme and thus move the country forward to the digital era,” said Natcha.
She said that the university in the digital era would have an important role in six areas: educators, knowledge creators in order to generate cutting-age knowledge, social problem solvers to apply research to societal issues, innovators in order to support entrepreneurship, connectors to connect stakeholders and bridging gaps, and agents of change to trial new ideas on campus.