NIA, IAS and CU Architects bring together 6 political parties First ever debate on 5 innovation challenges, making Thailand innovation nation


Bangkok, 3 May 2023: The National Innovation Agency (Public Organization) or NIA teamed up with the Institute of Asian Studies and the Faculty of Architecture at Chulalongkorn University to open a space for political party representatives to debate innovation policy and power the country with new politics. The event showcased a vision of driving the Thai economy and society with innovation to earn the confidence of the public. Innovation policy was also unveiled to address Thailand’s issues under the 3C concept – “Competitiveness – Corruption – Climate Change”, for which leaders must implement innovation to accelerate transformation.

Dr. Pun-arj Chairatana, Executive Director of the National Innovation Agency (Public Organization) or NIA commented that the forthcoming election was another transformative moment for Thailand. This can be seen from a number of political parties who have issued policies develop the country economically and socially, and with regard to welfare, public health and education, which are among a range of topics dependent on context in people’s lifestyles in a changed environment. To bring about this transformation, NIA is confident that the deployment of “innovation” will be a key powerful mechanism. The public must understand that innovation is not only Digital Transformation, but it is a tool to truly address real-world challenges of the economy, employment, and personal security.

“Policies to promote innovation in Thailand are generally an amalgamation of policies for science, technology and innovation, because it is generally considered that innovation proceeds from research and development. In actual fact, there is a more relevant topic, which is building companies who can deploy new technology and concepts. This is because we encountered the problem of not enough companies focused on innovation. To grow from the roots, more companies must be created which can innovate and generate sales internationally. Thailand’s innovation infrastructure is currently being driven by large companies in renewable energy, agriculture and chemicals. SME entrepreneurs and startups have to work with big companies. It is essential that opportunities for innovation should not be clustered around Bangkok or big companies, because this will help reduce existing inequality. Companies in technology and innovation should increase in number, as a hub for innovation in Thailand.”

Dr. Pun-arj continued that besides creating more companies focused on innovation in Thailand, changes will be coming shortly in the agenda of new leaders, and there should be a clearer “National Innovation Policy”. This can be seen from the countries who are strong in technology and innovation having a clear government plan with areas of focus on the aspects of a country which are memorable and add value. This is parlayed into a brand for the country which is recognized internationally. Having a clear plan means that it can be transmitted to government departments specifically charged with promoting innovative systems and businesses, as well as talent with the capability to deliver plans and best practices in the right place. This is benefit to the public in implementing concepts to develop businesses, skills, and capabilities, while highlighting success for the government as the key policymaker.

NIA sees the importance of including innovation policy in joint discussions to develop the country, so NIA has collaborated with the Institute of Asian Studies and the Faculty of Architecture at Chulalongkorn University to establish a forum for representatives of political parties to propose their policies on innovation for national development in the dimension of new politics for the first time in Thailand, and to show vision in driving Thailand’s economy and society with innovation. This is because NIA sees that in getting Thailand to its goal of being a country of innovation, success must rely on cooperation between the government, the private sector and politics. The key agendas NIA would like to see political parties propose are the following:

1) Urgent innovation policies to develop the country in the next 4 years, 2) Policies to support and develop 3S (SMEs – Startup – SE) relying on science, technology and innovation, while diversifying opportunities at the local level, 3) Location- and city-based development policies to build an identity to attract investment and innovators, and opportunities to distribute an urban level of prosperity to the regions (**Bangkok is ranked 145 in the list of global innovation hubs), 4) Policies aimed at addressing national problems and capabilities in “Competitiveness – Corruption – Climate Change”, and particularly the issue of currently increasing prices for energy and other utilities. and 5) Building knowledge, understanding and awareness among that public that innovation is close to their daily lives and a key factor in national development.

Dr Pun-arj also added that in terms of urgent national agendas for Thailand, NIA’s priority was on promoting innovation under the 3Cs Model. Competitiveness is nurturing companies’ capabilities to innovate because there are only a few companies that can compete and mostly they are in the industries that have grown at the global level. So, they might not very well reflect Thailand’s status as an innovation nation. It is thus necessary to accelerate building the brand of Thai innovation at the international level with large companies, promote the industry of the future for long-term growth, and foster innovation and the new generation of business owners. The next part is Corruption, meaning the expression of transparency. There should be innovation which gives the public access to government work processes in many forms. In particular, there should be financial innovations concerning country budgets, and innovations to audit and verify the government justice system, so that the government work is more efficient and going in the right direction. Finally, Climate Change including the management of natural resources, waste, PM 2.5 particulates, traffic congestion and reducing greenhouse gas emissions to Net Zero in line with the global consensus. All leaders and policymakers should be involved in these processes.