Innovation agency to focus on five areas over five years

The National Innovation Agency (NIA) unveiled a five-year plan last week that it said would focus on increasing innovation productivity in five sectors: the bio-economy, manufacturing and the circular economy, the social economy, service economy and the sharing economy. It will also develop regional innovation systems to cover the whole country.

“NIA’s direction will help to create, strengthen and sustain national innovation and create innovation productivity throughout the country in the near future,” said Pun-arj Chairatana, the agency’s executive director.

The NIA is an autonomous agency established in 2003 and operating under the umbrella of the Ministry of Science and Technology. The agency undertakes a broad-based and systematic approach in facilitating innovation development in Thailand, both in terms of making improvements and pioneering new initiatives. NIA’s mission is to support and develop Thailand’s innovation system to promote economic restructuring and competitive enhancement.

In addition to the five-sector focus, the agency will also promote geographic innovation by developing a regional innovation system and 15 innovation areas covering the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) and the Northern, Northeast, and Southern regions.

Increasing the ability to innovate is one main goal of the Thailand 4.0 national strategy. Thailand has had great success as a manufacturing hub for multinational corporations, but to achieve its next level of development the country needs to create, innovate and promote home-grown-higher technology goods and services through research and development. Thailand 4.0 has a 20-year timeline to reach those goals.

As part of fostering more innovation to accelerate the economy, the strategy also sees innovation as a force in developing a more fair and equal society. “We also aim to utilize innovation technology to improve quality of life for communities and the environment in order to create equality of people and reduce the gap between people in rural and urban areas,” said Pun-arj.

A fertile ground for producing advanced development is the local startup scene, which has grown rapidly in just the last few years. Pun-arj said that the NIA has set a target to help develop 2,000 startups, and small and medium enterprises (SMEs) throughits NIA Venture subsidiary.

In the area of finance innovation, the agency aims to develop mechanisms to create 100 new technology startups and innovative SMEs able to attract investment of venture capital.

Thailand has plentiful resources to develop a strong bio-economy, and the agency will focus on fostering new development and firms in biopharmaceuticals, new food products, agribusiness, bio-refinery, cosmeceuticals, bio-products and herbal products, Pun-arj said.