News Column

STI urges B10bn venture capital fund for small business

August 12, 2014

By Yuthana Praiwan, Bangkok Post, Thailand

Aug. 12--The National Science Technology and Innovation Policy Office (STI) will talk to the Securities and Exchange Commission about setting up a venture capital fund worth 10 billion baht this year to encourage SMEs to develop technology and innovations.

STI secretary-general Pichet Durongkaveroj said the move was in line with plans by the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) to set up a platform for science, technology and innovation development in the country, especially among SMEs.

The platform would encourage the private sector to focus on technology development through STI-initiated activities.

The fund would follow the recent approval by the STI board of raising the tax deduction for research, development and innovation (RDI) expenditure to 300% from 200%.

Mr Pichet said the board hoped to encourage more RDI spending.

"We have to facilitate as much technology development in the business sector as we can," he said.

Venture capital funds were initiated in 2000 including the 1-billion-bahtSME Venture Capital Fund, the US$50-millionThailand Equity Fund and the $250-millionThailand Recovery Fund. But these funds were inactive until finally the concerned agencies scrapped them.

"Thailand needs more science and technology development. The country's competitiveness has been declining as business costs have risen," said Mr Pichet.

Most of Thailand's export revenue is generated from commodity-grade products, as added-value merchandise still makes up a minority of exports.

Over the longer term, the STI is supporting universities to produce more scientists and researchers to serve increasing demand from the business sector. Universities outside Bangkok in particular need to develop research centres for small businesses.

Under the STI's science and technology development master plan, Thailand aims to increase its researchers to 15 out of 10,000 people by 2016, up from nine at present, rising to 25 in 2021.

This target is still low compared with 91 per 10,000 people in Taiwan and 68 in South Korea.

Ahn Young-ok, first chief technology officer at Samsung Group, said South Korea had been successful in technology and innovation development over the past 40 years.

He recommends Thailand kick-start science and technology reforms by using his country as a benchmark.

"Easy access to advanced technologies and researchers is the most crucial part of developing a technology-based economy for small businesses," Mr Ahn said.


(c)2014 the Bangkok Post (Bangkok, Thailand)

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Source: Bangkok Post (Thailand)

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