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Thai Prime Minister aims to turn Thailand into global startup hub

According to a recent report, the Thai government will be setting out on an ambitious plan to turn the country into the global hub for start-ups through legal upgrades and easier access to funds, according to the country’s PM.

The PM spoke at a Government House event to an invited crowd of 500 recently wherein he met with people involved in start-up businesses who proposed ideas about what the government could do to support them.

The PM noted that the government has set a target so it can be the global hub of start-ups, adding that the international community has praised Thailand’s potential. Thailand would serve as a platform where start-ups from around the world would come to Asia. He didn’t say when he hoped to bring it about.

The aim is to help Thailand become a startup-based country, where researchers and new business operators are drawn in to boost innovation.

Responding to the start-ups’ requests he said, efforts must be made to amend laws in regard to startup businesses and ensure convenient access to financial resources.

The government procurement process must be done in a way that supports start-ups to play a part in the country’s development. He also noted that the government wants start-ups to become the new economic warriors of the country.

The Prime Minister explained that the administration realises start-ups would play a role in boosting the business sector and tackling various social problems. Moreover, they can also be venues where the younger generations can use their creativity and innovation to spearhead their businesses in the future.

The PM stressed that start-ups would also help drive up the country’s economy, noting that about six billion baht has been poured into Thai start-ups by investors, while a Corporate Venture Capital (CVC) fund, worth 50 billion baht, was formed to provide the financial support for the businesses.

The CEO and co-founder of a company that helps SMEs boost efficiency said he hoped to see changes now that Thai start-ups had a chance to meet the PM, who has the power to issue orders and coordinate related ministries.

He highlighted the ease of improving business, which requires a legal amendment and creating a bigger market for Thai start-ups, noting that regulations on government procurement must be changed to accommodate start-ups.

He added that even if they draw up TOR [Terms of Reference] used in government contracts, start-ups would rather come up with more innovative ways to do the work. This could yield even better results than what is expected in the TOR.

He also suggested the government could announce the budget and expected results, then allow start­-ups to compete.

Moreover, the CEO urged that Thailand to expand the market to CLMV [Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam], noting that Thailand and CLMV together can make a market for themselves. He added Thailand should exploit its good relations with neighbouring countries.

According to the PM, the government is preparing a plan for the second phase of startup development between 2019-2021, expecting a 5% boost to GDP and creation of 50,000 jobs with an increase of 1,000 innovation-led start-ups.

He said the government will support start-ups that use advanced technology and provide effective services.

Efforts will be made to draw more capital into start-ups with incentives provided to both domestic and foreign investors, as well as to internationalise Thai start-ups through cooperation with various countries.

The prime minister said foreign start-ups willing to run their businesses in Thailand could be supported by a visa incentive, called the “Smart Visa” incentive for foreign start-ups and co-working spaces in Bangkok and Chiang Mai.

Meanwhile, he also added that a startup bill is being drafted to define clear boundaries for organisations that would be responsible for start-ups.

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