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Thai tech R&D spending growing exponentially

The country’s research and development (R&D) investments are expected to amount to THB200 billion this year, up 32% from last year, according to Office of the National Science Technology and Innovation Policy Office.

The investments accounting for 1.2% of GDP are largely made on R&D in the automotive, food and technology sectors, according to the Office Director.

R&D investments have grown in “leaps and bounds” in recent years. Last year, they expanded 36% from 2017.

In the next three years, the office wants to push R&D investments to THB280 billion per year.

The government also aims to produce more graduates with science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) degrees. By 2027, the country hopes to see those with STEM degrees make up half of the total yearly graduates.

More STEM-degree graduates are needed to shore up shortages of specialists in the new S-curve industries in the area of the Eastern Economic Corridor.

The Industry Ministry said the government is promoting 12 targeted S-curve industries in advanced technology and innovation to push forward the country’s economy.

The 12 promoted industries are next-generation automotive, intelligent electronics, advanced agriculture and biotechnology, aviation and logistics, medical and comprehensive healthcare, biofuel and biochemicals, food processing, high value and medical tourism, automation and robotics, digital, defence technology and educational technology.

The 12 industries will need about 107,000 workers over the next four years. Of these, 34,500 will be needed in digital, 29,000 in the aviation and logistics, 20,000 in medical and comprehensive healthcare, 12,000 in automation and robotics and 9,000 in biofuel and biochemicals.

Digital Valley to help grow tech R&D capabilities

According to an earlier report, the Digital Economy and Society (DE) Ministry is gearing up for the establishment of the Thailand Digital Valley in Chon Buri’s Sri Racha district as an urgent project to make the country a key digital infrastructure hub in ASEAN.

The project will be a centre for technology showcases, forums, R&D and training, as well as a regional community for global tech firms. The goal is to develop an innovation ecosystem that continues until the commercial launch of products.

It will be developed from the original Internet of Things (IoT) Institute, which is a core part of the government’s Sri Racha-based Digital Park Thailand scheme — a new economic cluster meant as a destination for digital players and business innovators.

The scheme forms part of the government’s Eastern Economic Corridor project.

The DE Minister stated that the Thailand Digital Valley is supported by the Digital Economy Society Council (DESC), which will play a role in fostering cooperation between Thai digital businesses and global tech firms.

The Thailand Digital Valley is under construction in the first phase and is expected to be completed by 2020.

The DE Ministry is seeking cooperation from the DESC president, on development plans for five core innovative industries and improvement of digital workforce skills.

The five industries are education tech, fintech, health tech, agriculture tech and government tech. They are all under the development roadmap of the DE Ministry.

The DESC has teams studying the development of the five industries. Their findings are to be presented to the ministry next month.

The ministry wants to see 40,000 digital workers undergoing upskilling and reskilling each year over the next two years.

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