By SUCHEERA PINIJPARAKARN
The goal is for the hub to support the ecosystem for the country’s start-ups.
Permanent secretary Somchai Sujjapongse said the government aimed to make Thailand the start-up creation centre for the region and, to accelerate progress towards achieving this vision, it had set up a National Start-up Committee, as well as a venture-capital fund with initial funding of Bt3 billion.
Somchai is chairman of the committee, while the Vayupak Fund and Krungthai Bank are in charge of the fund.
Start-ups will also be exempted from income tax for their first five years in operation, he said.
Even though Thailand has commenced a start-up project later than those established in neighbouring countries, the government believes things will now move rapidly because government agencies are jointly giving assistance to the start-up sector, he said.
However, he acknowledged that the creation of start-ups came with high risk and required careful consideration at every stage, as the experience overseas was for only 3-10 per cent of start-ups to survive.
The private sector and universities have run start-up projects before, but the government considers that it should now be the centralised body of knowledge for the sector, as well as the core bio-space to make room for creativity and innovative ideas, the permanent secretary explained.
The National Start-up Committee will act as the accelerator to push those ideas through to the business-model stage, while the venture-capital fund will assist start-ups that have insufficient capital to move forward, he added.
The Creative Innovation Hub, which will be located in the former building of the Stock Exchange of Thailand, is expected to create 10,000 start-ups in the next five to 10 years.
Mongkol Leelatham, president of SME Bank, said the Creative Innovation Hub would initially focus on start-ups in the biotech and food sectors as part of the new S-curve in the Thai economy.
Apart from being the part of the ecosystem, SME Bank will also launch a new lending scheme with the lowest possible interest rate for the first five years for start-up SMEs, he said.