Government will create $56 million fund for tech startups
Thailand’s Information and Communications Technology Minister said last week the government will create a $56 million fund this year to support tech and traditional startups in the country, with some of the money going to the 2,500 existing startup firms and with a target of supporting 10,000 startups 2018.
The initiative is in line with the broad goals and vision of the Kingdom’s economic policymakers who are seeking to encourage a shift from dependence on manufacturing to a reliance on creativity, knowledge and innovation. While Thailand remains a manufacturing hub of choice in Asia, rising incomes and wages means it will have to develop a new competitive edge compared to many of its neighbors.
Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Minister Uttama Savanayana told reporters last week that the fund is designed to accelerate innovation and support the expansion of Thai firms engaged in innovation to other countries in the region.
The fund will be divided equally between the ICT Ministry and the Finance Ministry. The ICT Ministry will use its portion to bankroll technology and digital economy start-ups, while the Finance Ministry will provide funds for more traditional start-up companies.
The Finance Ministry will partner with the Science and Technology Ministry to set up a joint working group to draft parameters and conditions for companies seeking financial support from the fund.
“The year 2016 is going to be a golden year for Thailand’s start-up industry,” Uttama said.
Science and Technology Minister Pichet Durongkaveroj said the government is supporting the shift to a more innovative economy with more than just financial support. The government is planning several measures to strengthen and grow the ‘start-up ecosystem’, he said, including setting up ‘start-up zones’ around the country to foster and consolidate new cutting edge businesses and economic activities.
He said that Software Park Thailand, which operates under the umbrella of the National Science and Technology Development Agency, is preparing to provide vouchers worth $1.1 million each for tech start-ups to help grow their businesses and penetrate new markets.
Teerachart Kortrakul, a director at the Thailand Tech Start-up Association, predicted that tech start-ups would be the driving force in the next wave of growth in Thailand’s digital economy.
The association will submit a white paper to the government to help guide its policy. It will call for easing regulations on the tech start-up industry. Among its proposals are a capital gains tax waiver and additional tax incentives to draw more foreign investment to local start-ups.