THE GOVERNMENT has set aside Bt2.5 billion of this fiscal year’s Bt190-billion additional budget to help 27 universities extend their research projects with commercial purposes as a way to promote the “Thailand 4.0” policy.
The first batch of Bt1.5 billion will be equally allocated to five university groups for establishment of their innovation centres. Each will have Bt300 million to proceed with five categories of research projects for commercial purposes. These categories are food and agriculture, ageing society, smart cities, |energy, and creative economy.
The remaining Bt1 billion will be used for two technological development programmes. Half of the Bt1 billion amount will be granted to Kasetsart University to conduct research on biotechnology, and the other half to Mahidol University for biomedical engineering research.
“Under the Thailand 4.0 policy, the government has set aside a Bt2.5-billion additional budget for five university groups, totalling 27 universities. This will be an incentive for universities to collaborate instead of competing as in the past,” said Suvit Maesincee, minister attached to the Prime Minister’s Office.
If these efforts have satisfactory results, they will get more funding next year, he said, noting about 90 per cent of Thailand’s research projects are in universities.
In regard to the Finance Ministry’s granting of tax deductions for five technology groups and targeted industries since January 1, Suvit said that if this policy goes well, Thailand’s spending for research and development will rise from 0.5-0.6 per cent of gross domestic product to 1 per cent. Thailand’s R&D spending remains low compared with other countries. South Korea’s is 4 per cent of GDP, he said.
If this mechanism is efficient, Thailand’s R&D spending will increase to Bt130 billion per annum or about 1 per cent of GDP, including both government and private-sector spending, Suvit said.
He said the Thailand 4.0 policy was not a mere concept any more and, once these projects become concrete, the government will be able to link them with start-ups.
“Next, we will have a technological base and try to have universities connect with the private sector,” he said.