Thai science agency investing in bio-circular-green projects

Thailand’s science and technology agency, National Science and Technology Development Agency (NSTDA), will invest $165 million in projects to help develop the country’s bio-circular-green economy next year as the government strengthens its commitment to advancing sustainability through partnerships.

The projects range from a biorefinery to nanotechnology for the medical industry, to autonomous vehicles, and tools to produce medical cannabis, among other endeavors.

“In 2020, we plan to add value to the country’s real sector, helping Thailand escape from the middle-income trap that has prevailed the past four decades,” said Narong Sirilertworakul, President of NSTDA.

The agency will also allocate funds for projects that will take Thailand’s farmers into the future, increasing their yields and productivity through knowledge and technology.

It will fund farming sensing technologies in the eastern provinces of Rayong and Chantaburi, where 80 percent of the area is orchards, mainly for durian and mangosteen. Sensing technologies provide data to help farmers monitor and optimize crops.

Nanotechnology in the medical industry will take shape in several projects. A relatively simple one is to produce micro/nanoneedles for diagnosis and treatment. By mid-2020, these will be used on a trial basis to measure blood sugar. But more advanced projects are also underway.

“Our National Nanotechnology Center will collaborate with the National Electronics and Computer Technology Center to embrace artificial intelligence for lung cancer diagnosis,” Narong said.

The NSTDA will also work with the National Metal and Materials Technology Center (MTEC) to expand biodegradability testing labs to support the green economy, including packaging, plastics, and rubber.

Narong predicted that investing in the bio-circular-green economy would produce economic returns worth over five times the amount invested.