Startups set to spur new economic model for Thailand

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thai_startupsThailand in its aim to embark on a innovation- and smart service-based economic model, dubbed “Thailand 4.0”, is now set to boost the number of startups in the country, seen as the new “economic warriors” in an otherwise still industry-, agriculture- and tourism-based economy.

To that end, several initiatives have been set to groom an entrepreneurial scene by launching startup and training centers for innovative small and medium enterprises (SME), as well as several events and exhibitions under the motto “Digital Thailand.”

As SMEs account for a whopping 99 per cent of all businesses in Thailand and contribute to 78 per cent of employment in the country, their importance for the overall economic development and their role as income generator for the vast majority of the population is widely acknowledged.

The Thai government thus is providing support and infrastructure for innovative SMEs. Besides having formed a National Startup Committee, it has also set up a fund to provide companies with access to financial sources other than bank loans. The government is also  setting up ICT networks across the country to train people and give them the opportunity to apply digital technologies.

The number of startups has grown over the past decade from around 1,000 to some 5,000 in 2016, and the state initiatives aim at pushing this number to 10,000 by 2017, mainly in the sectors of agriculture and food, tourism, communication and e-commerce.

software-park-thailand_building
Software Park Thailand in Nonthaburi

Hubs for innovative businesses in Thailand are centers such as Thailand Science Park in Pathum Thani north of Bangkok which focuses on research, development and innovation in biotechnology, information technology, metals and materials technology and nanotechnology with applications to be used in the areas of agriculture and food, health and medicine, as well as energy and environment.

For example, one such project in the science park is “Food Innopolis,” launched in 2016 and focusing on the development of high-value and high-profit foods, as well as functional and halal food. Other projects include e-commerce in the agricultural sector, as well as agritech.

Another innovation hub is Software Park Thailand, situated in Nonthaburi, also north of Bangkok. Between 2009 and 2014, the park has incubated 718 companies of which those having their offices in the park made combined accumulated revenue of 5.5 billion baht ($159 million), according to Chalermpol Tuchinda, director of Software Park Thailand.

Chalermpol Tuchinda_Director Software Park Thailand_Arno Maierbrugger
Chalermpol Tuchinda, Director Software Park Thailand © Arno Maierbrugger

Among the most notable companies that originate from Software Park Thailand are e-commerce portals such as Tarad and restaurant and wellness portal Wongnai. Current tenants cover a variety of sectors, including cyber security, web design, IT networking, fleet management, biometrics, virtual reality and games, enterprise resource planning and system management.

According to Tuchinda, new startups are also focusing on fintech applications for the financial services industry including the insurance and credit card management sector, as well as asset management, logistics and construction, mobile payments and a variety of niche services.

Venture capital raised for startups all over Thailand in the first few months of 2016 stood at around $108 million, says Tuchinda. Renowned companies whose growth was funded by such venture capital were, among others, mobile gaming company Sinoze, information and entertainment portal Sanook and real estate portal DDproperty.

More than a dozen former startups, among them Agoda, Paysbuy, Ensogo, Sanook, Officemate, Kaidee and Think of Living, since have grown to full-fledged market players through an IPO or through mergers or acquisitions.

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Thailand in its aim to embark on a innovation- and smart service-based economic model, dubbed "Thailand 4.0", is now set to boost the number of startups in the country, seen as the new "economic warriors" in an otherwise still industry-, agriculture- and tourism-based economy. To that end, several initiatives have been set to groom an entrepreneurial scene by launching startup and training centers for innovative small and medium enterprises (SME), as well as several events and exhibitions under the motto "Digital Thailand." As SMEs account for a whopping 99 per cent of all businesses in Thailand and contribute to 78...

Reading Time: 2 minutes

thai_startupsThailand in its aim to embark on a innovation- and smart service-based economic model, dubbed “Thailand 4.0”, is now set to boost the number of startups in the country, seen as the new “economic warriors” in an otherwise still industry-, agriculture- and tourism-based economy.

To that end, several initiatives have been set to groom an entrepreneurial scene by launching startup and training centers for innovative small and medium enterprises (SME), as well as several events and exhibitions under the motto “Digital Thailand.”

As SMEs account for a whopping 99 per cent of all businesses in Thailand and contribute to 78 per cent of employment in the country, their importance for the overall economic development and their role as income generator for the vast majority of the population is widely acknowledged.

The Thai government thus is providing support and infrastructure for innovative SMEs. Besides having formed a National Startup Committee, it has also set up a fund to provide companies with access to financial sources other than bank loans. The government is also  setting up ICT networks across the country to train people and give them the opportunity to apply digital technologies.

The number of startups has grown over the past decade from around 1,000 to some 5,000 in 2016, and the state initiatives aim at pushing this number to 10,000 by 2017, mainly in the sectors of agriculture and food, tourism, communication and e-commerce.

software-park-thailand_building
Software Park Thailand in Nonthaburi

Hubs for innovative businesses in Thailand are centers such as Thailand Science Park in Pathum Thani north of Bangkok which focuses on research, development and innovation in biotechnology, information technology, metals and materials technology and nanotechnology with applications to be used in the areas of agriculture and food, health and medicine, as well as energy and environment.

For example, one such project in the science park is “Food Innopolis,” launched in 2016 and focusing on the development of high-value and high-profit foods, as well as functional and halal food. Other projects include e-commerce in the agricultural sector, as well as agritech.

Another innovation hub is Software Park Thailand, situated in Nonthaburi, also north of Bangkok. Between 2009 and 2014, the park has incubated 718 companies of which those having their offices in the park made combined accumulated revenue of 5.5 billion baht ($159 million), according to Chalermpol Tuchinda, director of Software Park Thailand.

Chalermpol Tuchinda_Director Software Park Thailand_Arno Maierbrugger
Chalermpol Tuchinda, Director Software Park Thailand © Arno Maierbrugger

Among the most notable companies that originate from Software Park Thailand are e-commerce portals such as Tarad and restaurant and wellness portal Wongnai. Current tenants cover a variety of sectors, including cyber security, web design, IT networking, fleet management, biometrics, virtual reality and games, enterprise resource planning and system management.

According to Tuchinda, new startups are also focusing on fintech applications for the financial services industry including the insurance and credit card management sector, as well as asset management, logistics and construction, mobile payments and a variety of niche services.

Venture capital raised for startups all over Thailand in the first few months of 2016 stood at around $108 million, says Tuchinda. Renowned companies whose growth was funded by such venture capital were, among others, mobile gaming company Sinoze, information and entertainment portal Sanook and real estate portal DDproperty.

More than a dozen former startups, among them Agoda, Paysbuy, Ensogo, Sanook, Officemate, Kaidee and Think of Living, since have grown to full-fledged market players through an IPO or through mergers or acquisitions.

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