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Innovation agency readies Bt500m to boost SMEs


THE National Innovation Agency (NIA) aims to spur the uptake of innovative technology among small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) under what it calls a Thematic Innovation Project.

The agency expects to support around 50 to 75 SMEs within the first year and provide about Bt500 million in funding for the project.
Pun-arj Chiaratana, director of the NIA, said the project would provide funding to support SMEs that want to apply innovative technology in support of their business plans.
The funding will focus on five sectors: tourism and hospitality; herbal products for health and wellbeing; drones for businesses; the Internet of Things (IoT) in manufacturing; and innovation in the food industry that serves urban populations. Individual projects will receive funding of about Bt3 million to Bt10 million.
For tourism and hospitality, the agency will support SMEs in the areas of smart transport, the cashless environment, medical services and emergency alert systems that can come together in aiding the shift to a cashless society.
For the herbal products industry for health and wellbeing, the agency will focus on innovations that make the sector more appealing.
With drones, the agency will help SMEs to develop applications and services to supports smart farming and the surveying and monitoring of natural resources to support public services.
For IoT manufacturing, the agency will seek to improve the productivity of companies in order for them to create sustainable businesses. The agency also will provide support in the areas of human resources development for the Thailand 4.0 goals, as well as aiding so-called smart manufacturing and services. 
For food businesses serving urban centres, the agency will support business to raise their productivity and competitiveness in areas such as premium and so-called fashion foods as well as home-cooked fare.
"The Thematic Innovation project will create a major incremental boost in the five sectors within the next three years,” Pun-arj said.
“Thematic Innovation will facilitate SMEs in their efforts to boost competitiveness and strengthen their operations in order to expand into overseas markets.
“The project will also help to develop the strengths of these businesses as well as encouraging growth in the ranks of entrepreneurs.”
He said that the agency expects more than 100 SMEs will apply for innovation funding and the agency will support around 50-75 of them in the first years with a budget of around Bt500 million. The agency expects that SMEs and businesses will able to create revenue of over Bt5 billion after they have applied the innovative technology to their operations.
The agency is also studying how to expand the funding programme to cover new areas, including cosmetics, biomedical services and artificial intelligence.
 

Published : November 27, 2017

By :   JIRAPAN BOONNOON THE NATION