MONDAY, April 15, 2024

State agency launches competition, seeking innovative solutions for Chiang Mai smart city

State agency launches competition, seeking innovative solutions for Chiang Mai smart city

Thailand's Electronic Transactions Development Agency (ETDA) officially launched the "Hack for Good: Well-Being Creations" competition on Tuesday to find the best innovative solutions for building a smart city in Chiang Mai.

The competition marks the start of the ETDA's efforts to scale up smart cities across the country while also providing an opportunity for new entrants from startups, small and medium enterprises (SMEs), and the general public to participate in solving social issues.

ETDA director Chaichana Mitphan said in his opening remarks that after working with local organisations for several years to collect information and data, the ETDA had discovered that most cities in Thailand have a certain level of infrastructure readiness in terms of digital technology for better living.

However, each city has distinctive issues to consider, which necessitate proper digital innovative solutions to the problem, he said.

He acknowledged that despite knowing what the problem was and having proper data, some issues were beyond the government's ability to solve, and required a third party, whether private or public, to share some tools and solutions.

Chaichana Mitphan

Reaching out to innovators
He said the competition's goal is to reach out to exceptional innovators across the country to present their digital solutions to the three problems that the ETDA and its partner have established: liveable and secure housing, accessible public health services, and safe and healthy food.

He said that Chiang Mai was chosen as the starting point for this type of competition because the province has the most prepared local economy, digital infrastructure, and people.

ETDA assistant executive director Tyn Tawitaranond said that the agency expects the solutions for Chiang Mai to be scaled up and applied to other areas throughout the country.

Participants will not only receive financial assistance and the opportunity to grow their business, but they also will make connections through ETDA partners, such as Techsauce Media, in order to reach out to global investors, he noted.

Tyn said these connections would eventually enable these digital service providers to go global with their own smart solution for smart cities, the potential of which has already been demonstrated.


Attracting digital nomads
Charle Charoenphan, chief strategy officer and head of Techsauce Media's Thailand accelerator, added that each province in Thailand, particularly Bangkok, Chiang Mai, and Phuket, has its own unique selling point to attract foreign "digital nomads” — people who travel freely while working remotely using technology and the internet.

Therefore, if Thailand provides excellent digital services, these digital nomads will prefer to visit Thailand first. In the long run, this will benefit the country's economy.

He pointed out that because most global investors have shifted their focus to businesses involving human-centred technology, it would be better for the country to have its own digital businesses to attract those investors as well.

Krithpaka Boonfueng, deputy executive director (Innovation System) of the National Innovation Agency (NIA), one of the ETDA’s partners, said that the competition is expected to help Thailand build an open data sharing system.

She explained that all businesses and startups based on digital technology require data in order to develop some source of solutions. So, Thailand will finally be able to sustain social innovations with a large impact on society by opening up its data-sharing system.

In addition to the NIA and Techsauce Media, the ETDA has collaborated with the Program Management Unit for Area-based Development (PMU-A), AXONS (Thailand's agri-tech startups), Vimut Hospital, Chiang Mai University, and the Chiang Mai governor to hold this competition.

State agency launches competition, seeking innovative solutions for Chiang Mai smart city

A competition with a purpose
ETDA director Chaichana believes that the “Hack for Good” activity is an important mechanism not only to search for innovative solutions that will improve the lives of Chiang Mai people, but it is also an area of ​​co-creation and co-development of service provider innovation.

Meanwhile, new innovation developers have the opportunity to grow the business and put innovative solutions into action.

"These providers will be critical in improving the country's competitiveness in the future," he added.

Interested startups, SMEs, students, and the general public can submit a draft business plan until March 15. A team can have no more than 4-5 members.

He said the business plan must provide a solution that meets the conditions and is feasible. The remaining 15 teams will be chosen by the committee to receive training from mentors and experts in various fields.

The winner will receive 400,000 baht in cash as well as a plaque and certificate. The second runner-up will receive 300,000 baht, and the third runner-up 150,000 baht. Importantly, all three winners will be given the opportunity to pitch on the Tech Showcase stage at the Techsauce Global Summit 2023.