By ERICH PARPART
The co-working space, created nearly three years ago, currently has around 500 members.
“The government’s venture-capital and tax-break measures should be able to provide support for SMEs, but less so for start-ups, since it may take years before they can start to make a profit.
“The increase in the sources of funding should encourage more people, who are aware of the measures and have the know-how, to create more start-ups, but tech start-ups still need more support than that,” Amarit Charoenphan, co-founder and co-chief executive officer of HUBBA and Techsauce – a website for start-ups – said in an exclusive interview with The Nation.
The government’s Council of Economic Ministers has introduced a venture-capital fund scheme worth Bt6 billion, and a 4-per-cent interest soft-loan policy for SMEs worth a total of Bt100 billion.
It is also considering 10-year exemptions on corporate income tax and dividend tax in regard to venture capital.
Amarit said that for the Thai start-up ecosystem to develop more rapidly, the government should find ways to coordinate private and public efforts to support start-ups, while working with tech-ecosystem builders that are conducting workshops and training to develop a local tech-talent pool.
This should be done in line with the development of co-working spaces, so that new entrepreneurs can reduce the risk inherent in starting a technology venture, as well as save time and money in creating their business, he said.
He pointed to the fact that there were more than 20 government agencies across five ministries working to help start-ups, but their efforts were not coordinated, which contributed to the sector’s slow development as compared with fast-developing tech ecosystems such as those in Singapore and Malaysia.
“There are many graduates and others with potential in Thailand, but they are not sufficiently aware or know how to start up their business, and there are only a few universities that provide a cutting-edge entrepreneurship curriculum,” said HUBBA’s co-CEO.
The government should try to promote more education on start-ups and awareness by encouraging more world-class accelerators, technology-education academies, and global technology firms to set up business in Thailand to complement many of the existing competitions, events and expos that promote and provide education on start-ups, he suggested.
“Some of the current curricula on tech start-ups that are being taught are also outdated, so what the students are learning is obsolete and they have to be updated to keep up with the new technologies,” he added. Amarit said the governments of Singapore and Malaysia had made support for tech start-ups part of their national agendas for development, so the Thai government might want to follow suit.
He also said the government should provide ambitious tech start-ups with support, helping those with the potential to go regional and global by promoting their products abroad, such as by matching growth-stage Thai start-ups with renowned international investors and corporate partners and support for them to join international events.
“What they [start-ups] need, besides a great idea and team, is a highly productive workspace environment, like a co-working space for them to work together and develop their product faster,” he said.