Thailand 6th in Asia in innovation

The World Intellectual Property Organization ranked Thailand 6th out of 17 countries in Asia in its Global Innovation Index 2018 published in conjunction with Cornell University, as a Thai government agency proposed building a national accelerator program to support innovative startups, research projects, and enterprises.

“Thailand makes enormous progress this year, moving up seven positions and reaching the 44th place overall. It gains between 3 and 15 spots in all pillars except for Infrastructure, where it loses one, and Knowledge and technology outputs, stable at the 40th position,’’ the WIPO report said.

The report noted that Thailand, Iran and Viet Nam are middle-income countries that have been steadily climbing in the rankings during the past three years. Thailand’s rank of 44th out of 126 countries in 2018 was a significant leap from 52nd place in 2016. It cited Thailand’s “consistent improvement in performance that is evident in Institutions, Human capital and research, and Knowledge and technology outputs” – three of the seven criteria used to measure each country.

WIPO said that Thailand has outperformed in innovation relative to its stage of development. It listed Thailand among a group of 20 economies it labeled as innovation achievers.

In Asia, Singapore, South Korea, and Japan led the pack. Southeast Asia as a region was ranked third globally in innovation. “ASEAN (the Association of Southeast Asian Nations) economies are making great progress in innovation and socioeconomic development indicators,” the report said.

Thailand’s government has been emphasizing innovation as part of its 20-year national development strategy. The National Innovation Agency (NIA) proposed last week that the government establish a National Innovation System accelerator platform.

The platform would unify fragmented research projects and budgets, moving towards national goals as well as avoiding redundancy, said Weerapong Pairsuwan, chairman of the NIA.

The government “needs to build an entire ecosystem that encourages universities, researchers and startups to be innovation entrepreneurs by enabling them to access capital, helping them turn ideas or research projects into prototypes, then reaching commercial production and eventually marketing,” Weerapong said.

He also called on the government to open up its procurement system to allow entrepreneurs and startups to participate, and to eliminate laws and regulations that inhibit or stifle innovation.

“We cannot become an innovation nation unless we create a culture for it,” Weerapong said.