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Innovation district initiative revealed

Oct 05. 2015
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THE National Innovation Agency aims to transform the Yotee district in Bangkok into an "innovation district" similar to that in Singapore in the hope that it will serve as a platform that will boost the birth of new innovative ideas and start-ups in Tha

Pun-Arj Chairatana, the NIA’s new director, said for decades governments, universities and traditional firms had tried to encourage the transfer of know-how and technology by encouraging more foreign direct investment (FDI) through the luring of Board of Investment (BOI) privileges but theses efforts had proved somewhat of a failure.

"We are offering these BOI privileges partly because we want a direct technology transfer from foreign firms and we have been trying this approach for three or four decades already hoping that we can have technology from FDI but in reality we have so little from that approach," he said.

"A city can act as a magnet for innovators such as the attractiveness of Bangkok or Chiang Mai for the past 10 years, and they are already accommodating IT start-ups or foreign talent who moved from around the world to live there," he said.

"They developed their tech-based firms and some can already claim to be a global player in some specific business.

"Therefore, apart from the traditional transfer or the rigorous brain drain scheme, the NIA is going to focus on the city – the city as a magnet for innovators, the city as a factory for innovation so people can live and work and innovate in a specific district."

Service and medical innovations

Pun-Arj said Yotee was perfect to turn into a innovation district as the NIA was located there and the agency already had an innovation park which would be used as the centre of the innovation district.

He said the NIA was already working with state-owned CAT Telecom, with them working with hospitals and universities in Yothin to develop hospital service and medical innovations.

"The NIA already has an in-novation park here so we are |trying to develop an innovation district so that people from the medical innovation and digital technology sectors can mingle and work with other key players in order to develop an innovation district," he said.

"Next year, there should be some tangible evidence [of this happening] and we expect this to become a realty within two years based on the new platform of area-based innovation instead of the linkage between firms and universities, which is currently too little and too long."

The BOI’s latest science technology and innovation privileges offered to foreign firms and joint ventures focuses on innovation activities in the Kingdom such as the 300 per cent research and development tax privilege, he said.

The government’s tax privilege for start-ups should also increase the level of research and development and innovation activities in the country, he added.

Pun-Arj said the updated intellectual property laws, which concentrated on relaxing and organising copyright and trade-secret laws, would induce the diffusion of innovation.

It may also support the acceleration of innovation usage especially the new law focusing on digital content, digital applications, new media and the Internet, which should cover the intangibility of the intellectual property system.

"Some people think that having IP is already having innovation but in reality it is not because we cannot consider IP as innovation since IP is an instrument or evidence that you have the potential to innovate," Pun-Arj said.

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