Thailand wants investors acquire a taste for food innovation

Reading Time: 3 minutes
Food Innopolis in Thailand Science Park. © Arno Maierbrugger

In its quest to become a future-oriented, innovative economy, Thailand is putting the focus on one of the things in which the country already plays in the premier league: food.

Being one of the largest food exporters in the world with an export value of around $30 billion annually or 10 per cent of GDP, and well-renowned for its tasty indigenous dishes, it seems very reasonable that Thailand puts the innovation hat on the food industry and promotes the country as a global food innovation hub.

To that end, the Thai government has created the Food Innopolis cluster last year as part of the Thailand 4.0 strategy, a transformation programme for the Thai economy that aims at boosting the country’s innovative and digital industries.

“Food, agriculture and biotechnology are part of Thailand’s new engine of growth,” says Atchaka Sibunruang, the country’s Minister of Science and Technology..

“The food innovation theme includes food production, food quality and safety, food supply chain management and research on ingredients and additives,” she adds.

How serious Thailand takes its food industry is best shown by the fact that it spends $350 million a year in research and development (R&D) on food products alone, at 14 per cent the highest share in the country’s entire R&D budget.

Investvine visited food Innopolis and learned about the ambitious plans the center has. Situated in the Thailand Science Park north of Bankgkok on the huge campus of Thammasat University’s Pathum Thani branch, it currently houses 32 food and food-related companies and other research institutions and wants to attract overseas corporations to set up their R&D centers there. They would find a wide field of industry verticals, namely in high-value product niches such as health food, functional food, premium food, so-called “silver food” for the elderly, patient food, herbal food but also biotech, smart farming, packaging and smart food logistics.

“The plan is to link Food Innopolis to other domestic and foreign research centers, as well as provide support for Thai start-ups and small and medium enterprises to enter the global food supply chain and cooperate with multinationals,” says Food Innopolis CEO Akkharawit Kanjana-Opas, who is also Deputy Secretary-General of Thailand’s National Science and Technology Policy Office.

“Basically, we aim at providing a world-class food innovation ecosystem that creates high value-added products and services and becomes a new economic growth engine,” he notes, saying that, as a start, apart from Food Innopolis, 16 private Thai food companies, 23 universities and 12 public organisations are already art of this wider ecosystem.

Food Innopolis is also expanding to regional science parks, namely in Chiang Mai and Khon Kaen, and also as a southern branch in Songkhla. The northern branch in Chiang Mai would focus on rice, fruits, vegetables and organic products, while the Khon Kaen branch would specialise in meat and poultry, sugar and also rice. The southern branch in Songkhla would be centered on seafood and functional food, and, in cooperation with Bangkok’s Halal Science Center of Chulalongkorn University, on halal food and related products.

To attract foreign companies, Food Innopolis offers a package of tax and non-tax incentives. The perks include full investment incentives from the Thai Board of Investment for food and food-related companies, namely zero corporate income tax up to ten years and 50 per cent for five  more years, as well as import duty exemptions on materials imported for R&D purposes and related R&D activities and testing.

Other special incentives directly related to Food Innopolis are 300-per cent tax deduction for corporate R&D expenses, an “innovation coupon” worth up to $43,400 for small and medium companies, training programmes and the use of the on-site R&D center, a pilot plant and testing and analysis labs. There is also a one-stop service center for administrative tasks.

Thailand’s Science and Technology Ministry will be spending a total of one billion baht ($29.11 million) in fiscal 2017 to build infrastructure supporting the center. Over the next five years, a budget of three billion baht has been allocated for the center, and the target is to attract around 100 companies to the center in the period

Companies which already set up shop in Food Innopolis are. among others, Japan’s Otsuka, Malee Sampran, CP Foodlab, Mitr Phol Innovation & Research Center and Thanakorn Vegetable Oil Products. As of March 2017, private investment in the food cluster totaled 900 million baht, and 450 jobs have been created.

The government forecasts that a total of 1.5 billion baht will be invested by private companies in Food Innopolis this year, which should create up to 800 jobs.

All pictures © Arno Maierbrugger

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[caption id="attachment_29672" align="alignleft" width="850"] Food Innopolis in Thailand Science Park. © Arno Maierbrugger[/caption] In its quest to become a future-oriented, innovative economy, Thailand is putting the focus on one of the things in which the country already plays in the premier league: food. Being one of the largest food exporters in the world with an export value of around $30 billion annually or 10 per cent of GDP, and well-renowned for its tasty indigenous dishes, it seems very reasonable that Thailand puts the innovation hat on the food industry and promotes the country as a global food innovation hub. To...

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Food Innopolis in Thailand Science Park. © Arno Maierbrugger

In its quest to become a future-oriented, innovative economy, Thailand is putting the focus on one of the things in which the country already plays in the premier league: food.

Being one of the largest food exporters in the world with an export value of around $30 billion annually or 10 per cent of GDP, and well-renowned for its tasty indigenous dishes, it seems very reasonable that Thailand puts the innovation hat on the food industry and promotes the country as a global food innovation hub.

To that end, the Thai government has created the Food Innopolis cluster last year as part of the Thailand 4.0 strategy, a transformation programme for the Thai economy that aims at boosting the country’s innovative and digital industries.

“Food, agriculture and biotechnology are part of Thailand’s new engine of growth,” says Atchaka Sibunruang, the country’s Minister of Science and Technology..

“The food innovation theme includes food production, food quality and safety, food supply chain management and research on ingredients and additives,” she adds.

How serious Thailand takes its food industry is best shown by the fact that it spends $350 million a year in research and development (R&D) on food products alone, at 14 per cent the highest share in the country’s entire R&D budget.

Investvine visited food Innopolis and learned about the ambitious plans the center has. Situated in the Thailand Science Park north of Bankgkok on the huge campus of Thammasat University’s Pathum Thani branch, it currently houses 32 food and food-related companies and other research institutions and wants to attract overseas corporations to set up their R&D centers there. They would find a wide field of industry verticals, namely in high-value product niches such as health food, functional food, premium food, so-called “silver food” for the elderly, patient food, herbal food but also biotech, smart farming, packaging and smart food logistics.

“The plan is to link Food Innopolis to other domestic and foreign research centers, as well as provide support for Thai start-ups and small and medium enterprises to enter the global food supply chain and cooperate with multinationals,” says Food Innopolis CEO Akkharawit Kanjana-Opas, who is also Deputy Secretary-General of Thailand’s National Science and Technology Policy Office.

“Basically, we aim at providing a world-class food innovation ecosystem that creates high value-added products and services and becomes a new economic growth engine,” he notes, saying that, as a start, apart from Food Innopolis, 16 private Thai food companies, 23 universities and 12 public organisations are already art of this wider ecosystem.

Food Innopolis is also expanding to regional science parks, namely in Chiang Mai and Khon Kaen, and also as a southern branch in Songkhla. The northern branch in Chiang Mai would focus on rice, fruits, vegetables and organic products, while the Khon Kaen branch would specialise in meat and poultry, sugar and also rice. The southern branch in Songkhla would be centered on seafood and functional food, and, in cooperation with Bangkok’s Halal Science Center of Chulalongkorn University, on halal food and related products.

To attract foreign companies, Food Innopolis offers a package of tax and non-tax incentives. The perks include full investment incentives from the Thai Board of Investment for food and food-related companies, namely zero corporate income tax up to ten years and 50 per cent for five  more years, as well as import duty exemptions on materials imported for R&D purposes and related R&D activities and testing.

Other special incentives directly related to Food Innopolis are 300-per cent tax deduction for corporate R&D expenses, an “innovation coupon” worth up to $43,400 for small and medium companies, training programmes and the use of the on-site R&D center, a pilot plant and testing and analysis labs. There is also a one-stop service center for administrative tasks.

Thailand’s Science and Technology Ministry will be spending a total of one billion baht ($29.11 million) in fiscal 2017 to build infrastructure supporting the center. Over the next five years, a budget of three billion baht has been allocated for the center, and the target is to attract around 100 companies to the center in the period

Companies which already set up shop in Food Innopolis are. among others, Japan’s Otsuka, Malee Sampran, CP Foodlab, Mitr Phol Innovation & Research Center and Thanakorn Vegetable Oil Products. As of March 2017, private investment in the food cluster totaled 900 million baht, and 450 jobs have been created.

The government forecasts that a total of 1.5 billion baht will be invested by private companies in Food Innopolis this year, which should create up to 800 jobs.

All pictures © Arno Maierbrugger

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