By JIRAPAN BOONNOON
Inspired to give something back to society and the community, Virot Yensawat, managing director of software company Prosoft Comtech, has for the past two years been developing a Lanna-style information-technology project called Oon IT Valley on 90 rai (14.4 hectares) of land in Amphoe Mae On, some 30 kilometres or just a 20-minute drive from the city of Chiang Mai.
“After starting to build up Prosoft Comtech, which develops ERP [enterprise resource planning] software, 20 years ago, I realised there was a need to provide knowledge and know-how to support social enterprise, giving and sharing information technology and benefits back to society and the local community in terms of social enterprise.
“I therefore decided to establish Oon IT Valley in Chiang Mai, where there is a good scenario and a fresh environment for creating a digital workforce and start-ups,” he explained.
He expects to invest around Bt300 million in total in getting his brainchild up and running.
The complex will come with an academy that provides knowledge to business and the community, a training centre for farmers and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) wanting to apply smart solutions and smart farming to support their operations, and a knowledge centre for the transfer know-how from experts to local people and businesses such as farmers.
Importantly, it will also comprise an innovation centre that will allow around 30 budding start-ups and IT companies to establish themselves and develop their ideas and products through to commercial fruition in Amphoe Mae Oon within a couple of years, Virot said.
In the initial stage of the valley’s operations, the Lanna-style complex will see around 12 start-ups related to the Internet of Things (IoT), smart farms and GPS tracking solutions moving into the innovation centre this coming May, soon after the centre’s opening.
Oon IT Valley, meanwhile, is also working with the Digital Economy Promotion Agency to create activities to support individuals and small business in local communities, and with Maejo University in the province to develop a prototype 8-rai smart rice farm by using IoT solutions to monitor the weather, provide water, apply fertiliser and take care of the farm by using sensor technology and smart-farm solutions, he said.
The technology is expected to be able to increase rice production by more than 30 per cent compared with traditional means of cultivation, he added.
Moreover, the valley’s creator also wants to develop a digital workforce and co-working space for anyone wanting to create and develop ideas or new business around Oon IT Valley, providing free Wi-Fi as well an environment for the sharing of ideas and experience with experts at the valley.
Virot said that through Prosoft Comtech, he was in a position to provide licences for both accounting software and ERP solutions to SMEs free of charge for two years.
He already provides software licences free in support of around 3,000 SMEs, and expects to be able to increase this to 200,000 licences for SMEs nationwide within the next five years.