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Innovation agency gears up to help create major impact on economy


THE National Innovation Agency (NIA) has been directed to support innovation in the country in five main areas – radical innovation, thematic innovation, innovation districts, open innovation, and data-driven innovation.

NIA director Pun-arj Chiaratana said the agency is developing a plan and strategy to support radical innovation project in three areas – bio economy, manufacturing and circular economy – as well as sharing, social and service economy. 
The plan is expected to be completed in the second half of next year and be able to advise businesses who want to apply radical innovation to their businesses in the next couple years. It also expects to be successful in developing radical innovation in the country within the next five years.
For the thematic innovation project, the project will look at innovation funding to support small and medium enterprises (SMEs) who want to apply innovation technology to support their business. The innovation funding will focus on five sectors: tourism and hospitality; herbal industry for health and wellness; unmanned aerial vehicle for business; Internet of things (IoT) in manufacturing; and innovation food business for urban society. The innovation funding will be around Bt3 million to Bt10 million for each project.
For tourism and hospitality, the agency will support SMEs in the areas of smart transport, cashless environment and medical services and emergency alert system to create a cashless society.
Meanwhile for the herbal industry for health and wellness, the agency will focus on functional food and herbal innovation for health and treatment. 
With the unmanned aerial vehicle for business, the agency will focus on SMEs who develop applications and solutions to support smart farming, survey and monitoring natural resources to support public services.
For the IoT in manufacturing, the agency will drive production by utilising innovation technology to improve productivity so as to create sustainability. The agency will also support in the areas of human resource development for industry 4.0 and smart manufacturing and services. 

Help with productivity
Lastly, in the innovation food business for urban society, the agency will help businesses improve their productivity and competitiveness in key areas such as premium, fashion, and fresh home-cooked food.
“The thematic Innovation project will create major incremental in the five sectors within the next three years. Thematic innovation will enable SMEs to become more competitive in the global market and create opportunities for global expansion of their businesses. It will not only develop the strength of their businesses but also develop entrepreneurs in the country,” said Pun-arj.
He said the agency expects that more than 100 SMEs will apply for innovation funding and the agency hopes to be able to support 50-75 SMEs in the first year with a budget of around Bt500 million. The agency expects that SMEs and businesses will able to create revenue of more than Bt5 billion after they utilise innovation technology in their businesses. However, the agency is studying how to expand innovation funding to cover three new areas: cosmetics, bio-medical, and artificial intelligence technology. 

Innovation corridor
With the innovation district project, the agency next year will set up and develop the Rama IV Innovation corridor covering Klong Toei to Hua Lamphong districts. It will also set up the Northern Innovation Corridor to develop city innovation in nine provinces located in the northern region, which will include Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Lampang and Lampun provinces. 
Meanwhile, the open innovation project is funding designed to support start-ups, innovators and entrepreneurs to upgrade their innovation capability and enhance their innovation journey experience by providing them access to alternative financing. The funding will be capped at Bt1.5 million per project. 
For data-driven information (DDI), the agency will utilise innovation to access and use data to create a wide array of impacts and policy challenges, ranging from privacy and consumer protection to open access issues and measurement concerns, across public and private health, legal and science domains. It will provide DDI to support various areas such as smart city, tourism, IoT and food industries. 
“Innovation and technology will play important roles in driving Thailand 4.0 and create new opportunities in the country as well as create competitiveness,” said the director.
 

Published : December 20, 2017

By : JIRAPAN BOONNOON THE NATION