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Improved incubation services on way

Nov 24. 2018
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By Asina Pornwasin
THE NATION WEEKEND

To drive Thailand’s forward movement with science, technology and innovation, two national agencies are joining hands to nurture business incubation throughout the country.

The National Science and Technology Development Agency (NSTDA) is now working with the Science Park Promotion Agency (SPA) to enhance the incubation capability of their technology and to upgrade business incubation centres throughout the country. 

The move aims to improve both the incubation process and its management in order to enhance incubation capacities in science and technology, and to ensure that innovative startups and entrepreneurs get useful benefits.

The improvement process is done using the “maturity model” provided by Creeda Projects, which has 35 years of experience in business incubation, acceleration, entrepreneurship, innovation and SME development. 

Chalermpol Tuchinda, vice president of the National Science and Technology Development Agency (NSTDA), said the collaboration aims to improve incubation and management capability of the agency’s Business Incubation Centre (BIC) and SPA’s 14 technology-business incubation centres located at universities nationwide. 

The project has been piloted at the first technology-business incubation centres, five universities and Science Park Thailand. 

It will be rolled out at the remaining centres soon.

The benefit of this improvement is deliver better incubation services to startups and entrepreneurs and to improve the management of incubation centres.

“Since offering technology business incubation services is mission of both NSTDA and SPA, we also have our own incubation centre, said Chalermpol.

“In order to keep our incubating capability up-to-date with the dynamic digital transformation, we realised that we needed to upgrade our capability.”

Startups and entrepreneurs have different needs at each of their three stages – seeding, growth, and maturity. So three different programmes are normally used to match the stages to science, technology, innovation technology, and business incubation services, said Sansanee Huabsomboom, the division director for Technology Business Incubation Centres at NSTDA.

“Each year, we offer pre-incubation to 80 projects and to provide incubation programme for 40 companies per year,” said Sansanee. “Each stays with us one to three years, depending on how fast they grow. The post incubation period is event-driven by mutual companies.”

Centre management boosted 

It is challenging to offer incubation service to the different companies in different stages of growth, she says, since they have different needs and require different types of incubation programmes. Therefore, NSTDA and SPA have to join hands to improve incubation centre management to enhance incubation services. Eventually, startups and entrepreneurs will benefit from the improvements. 

Each year, with the help of the incubation centres’ services, the country has received an economic impact of between Bt500 million and Bt600 million. 

Apart from offering incubation services, Sansanee said that NSTDA also provides an accelerator programme with seed funding. It started last year with a food accelerator programme that invited all companies in the food value supply chain and related industries such as packaging and ingredients to join. 

The Food Accelerator Programme is a three-year programme intended to give three years of support to startups with revenues of Bt5 million and above, and seen as having the potential to grow. The aim is to help these companies to double their growth. 

“We kicked off this programme last year, and 15 companies joined. Then we did our annual evaluation and found that only nine companies could continue in the programme. So we recruited five more companies this year to join,” said Sansanee.

Apart from the accelerator programme, Chalermpol added, the NSTDA also offers grants as matching funds to startups and entrepreneurs in science, technology and innovation fields. 

The grant is around 75 per cent of an applicant’s total project valuation up to Bt800,000. 

This grant was for the marketing budget, rather than for the product and service development budget. By 2017, it had provided grants to 80 companies that together created revenues of up to Bt300 million, and were expected to together create revenues of Bt900 million in 2018.

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