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Thailand science park – linking the public and private sectors through R&D

Thailand Science Park (TSP), under the management of the National Science and Technology Development Agency (NSTDA), was established in 2002 as a platform to strengthen capabilities in research and innovation in the private sector. Covering an area of 200 rai (80 acres), Thailand’s first Science and Technology Park has a goal of linking the government and private sector at all levels, ranging from startups and SMEs to large companies, to effectively take part in the industry value chain. TSP provides state-of-the-art R&D infrastructure in an atmosphere that fully supports an innovation-driven ecosystem.

With four national research centers in the areas of Biotechnology, Electronics and Computer Technology, Metals and Materials Technology, and Nanotechnology under the Ministry of Science and Technology’s National Science and Technology Development Agency (NSTDA), the park is well-prepared to accommodate the research, development and innovations of private companies. It is fully equipped with infrastructure readiness and laboratories at an international standard, with a utility space of over 264,000 sq m. and over 2,000 researchers, providing an opportunity for private sectors to gain access to highly-skilled personnel.

A fully-integrated R&D hub for the private sector

Creating a suitable environment for an innovation ecosystem, the park offers a full range of value-added services to support technology businesses including rental space for laboratories for private tenants from both domestic and international corporations, vacant land for the construction of research centers and pilot plants, testing service centers and banking services.

Over 80 companies have already set up their laboratories at Thailand Science Park, of which 30 percent are international companies such as Sumitomo, Zoetis and Haydale. Many leading Thai companies such as Betagro, SCG, PTT, and Mitr Phol are also represented.

In 2017, NSTDA has targeted economic impact at THB 22 billion (USD 658 million).  Aiming to
enhance the park’s competitiveness and strengthen Thailand’s industrial value chain in science and technology, the NSTDA is targeting an additional 15 tech companies each year, 50% of which are in the food, automotive, automation and medical clusters.

With more than 500 R&D projects created each year by the park’s tenants, roughly 50 percent are joint projects between the NSTDA, universities and private companies, and many projects are successfully being developed at the park. Around 300 of these projects are being commercialized each year.

Betagro Low Fat Sausages

By joining on R&D with the NSTDA, Betagro, a key player in agro-industrial and food business sector, successfully launched their innovative “Betagro Low Fat Sausage” product. While common sausage contains 20% fat, Betagro’s Low Fat Sausage has less than 5%, fat content that is four times lower than normal sausage. As low fat sausage normally lacks great taste, researchers from the NSTDA and Betagro worked together to develop an innovative product that still offers a chewy taste and soft texture to best fit customer satisfaction. Betagro has continued to conduct R&D with the NSTDA, with a budget of THB 10 million (USD 0.3 million) to study the structure and functions of meat for processing and development as healthier products.

Funding Thai SMEs for future growth

With an increase in government funding in recent years, the NSTDA also offers financial support to various sectors. The Innovation Technology Assistance Program (iTAP) supports SMEs to increase their productivity and efficiency, and targets roughly 4,000 projects per year. The NSTDA will provide specialists and researchers as well as financial support to help Thai SMEs in linking R&D and innovation with the right technology transfer.

For example, PSU Innovation Trading, a local SME in the southern part of Thailand, received comprehensive support from the NSTDA in collaboration with Prince of Songkla University in providing specialists for research and develop in rubber latex to be a skincare for facial treatment. Being an important and strategic resource in Thailand, rubber products were upgraded in cooperation with the NSTDA and the company, as a value-added product. The project was successfully adopted to increase the effectiveness of absorption as a skincare product, contributing to important innovations that help strengthen the value chain of rubber products.

Moving to achieve Thailand’s goal

In moving towards Thailand 4.0, the Thai government is implementing a transformation of the country’s economic structure into an innovation-driven economy. The Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) is a major component, and is designated to be a targeted area in driving the 10 S-Curve industries. The infrastructure development plan, including U-Tapao Airport, Laem Chabang port and high-speed and double-track railways, will provide an important boost to further enhance industrial growth in the area.

The next strategic move for Thailand Science Park is the Eastern Economic Corridor of Innovation (EECi). To further reinforce and complement the 10 S-Curve industries, EECi will become the hub for industrial research to support growth in the EEC. EECi will support innovation through testing centers, pilot plants, and technology demonstrations through an integrative platform to link innovators and users. EECi, targeted as a service close to the end-user market, will be comprised of three mega science and technology parks: BIOPOLIS, ARIPOLIS and SPACEKRENOVAPOLIS. Companies will be able to move into EECi to conduct innovation related activities in their respective premises which will be completed in 2021. EECi will therefore serve as a hub for industrial research and innovation and have an important role in using science and technology to further strengthen Thailand’s position in global markets.

Exclusive R&D privileges for park tenants

The tenants at Thailand Science Park will receive special privileges from the government through various agencies aiming to support R&D activities, as well as supporting the country’s development.

Privileges from the Board of Investment (BOI) include an exemption of import duties on machinery and equipment imported for use in the R&D process, and a corporate income tax exemption for up to 13 years with an additional 50% reduction for five years. Work permit and visa facilitation for foreign specialists and researchers will also be provided.

Incentives from the Revenue Department will cover the accelerated depreciation allowances for machinery used in R&D and a 300% Corporate Income Tax deduction for technology and innovation research and development expenses.

With committed government support, Thailand Science Park is an important center for advanced infrastructure and human capital that will serve as the backbone of Thailand’s R&D by creating innovative products that further strengthen Thailand’s economy over the long-term.

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