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business

NIA joins True on project to spur startups in ‘innovation 


THE National Innovation Agency (NIA) is working with True Corporation to create what they will say will be startup ecosystems in the Bangkok districts of Punnawithi and Patumwan, and in Phuket.

Alongside this initiative, True aims to help develop 100 startups across the country by the end of the year.
Pun-arj Chiaratana, director of the NIA, said that the agency has begun developing what are dubbed innovation districts in 15 areas, including Yothi, Bang San, Chiang Mai and Khon Kaen – in addition to the latest three districts announced.
‘The corporation with True forms part of our drive for the development of innovation districts, which take in startups, the development of human resources, network infrastructure, expanding the economy and improving the quality of life for residents in each area,” Pun-arj said.
“The innovation districts will create an ecosystem of innovation clusters that will help startups succeed.”
Suphachai Chearavanont, chairman of the executive committee of True Corporation, said the company and the NIA will focus on developing the three innovation districts: Punnawithi, Patumwan and Phuket.
 Initially, the company will focus on Patumwan and Punnawithi. It is also developing the True Digital Park to support the innovation district planned for Punnawithi.
The company will partner a multinational company set up businesses in Punnawithi and develop True Lab to support the startup ventures. It will also provide technology that it is working on to support the innovation districts. Such technologies would include robotics, the Internet of Thing and cloud computing.
Teerapon Tanomsakyut, chief innovation and sustainability officer of True Corporation, said that True Digital Park in Punnwithi, under the Phra Khanong district, would draw on investment worth Bt30 billion in creating the startup ecosystem and innovation district. True Digital Park covers 40,000 square meters. The firm will open the first phase of the park in September next year.
Of the company’s goal to develop 100 startups by the end of the year, he said investments would be put into areas such as health technology, e-commerce and education. The firm has so far invested in 11 startups with investment of around Bt20 million.
Pun-arj said the agency would provide “human-centric engagement in order to win the endorsement of people in each area, encourage investment by both the private sector, such as in land development, and the public sector in order to inspire people to create innovation and businesses in the smart districts”. 
The NIA would act as the facilitator of these projects, “partnering with local governments and the private sector to support development, create awareness and create challenges for business to be innovative”. 
The NIA aims to develop 400 start-ups, 5,000 small and medium-sized enterprises and large corporations within the next three years, creating an economic value of Bt17.6 billion within five years. Startups would contribute Bt1.6 billion of that figure, with the remaining Bt16 billion coming from SMEs and large corporates. Moreover, the eastern innovation districts are expected to employ more than 204,000 workers within 10 years.
The government and private sector is conducting an event, The Startup Thailand 2017, that is expected to draw over 300 international and local startups in categories including technology for the agricultural, food, medical, financial and education sectors. The event, which ends on Sunday, is likely to attract to 36,000 people.

Published : July 06, 2017

By :   JIRAPAN BOONNOON THE NATION