"In the future, we don't intend to compete on low wages. We are focusing on key sectors that will move Thailand up the value-added ladder," Duangjai Asawachintachit, deputy secretary general for the Thailand Board of Investment, told us. She noted that her country is already losing ground in some low-wage manufacturing segments due to regional competitiveness.
But that's all according to plan.
Embracing the idea that innovative startups and entrepreneurs will lay the foundation for a strong economy, Thailand is putting a priority on science, technology, and innovation investment targets and creating an infrastructure to support fledgling startups.
"A lot of these entrepreneurs have brilliant technical ideas, but they don't necessarily know all the ins and outs of running a successful business," said Chalermpol Tuchinda, director of Software Park Thailand.
(Source: EE Times/Karen Field)
One key segment is the $1.6 billion software industry. Though it is growing 17.8% per year, only 15% of the revenue in packaged software, software services, and embedded software today is generated by products developed by Thai-owned enterprises.
Trairat Chatkaew, president of the Software Industry Promotion Agency (SIPA), said the goal is to increase the growth rate to 25% in three years. With an annual budget of $10 million, his government agency's charter is to encourage government organizations, along with small and midsized businesses, to use Thai software.
A recent big win for the Thai software industry was a contract with BMW won by ThaiGerTec, an automotive embedded system development solution provider.
If more Thai software gained traction in the global market, the credit would be shared with organizations like Software Park Thailand, which provides free assistance to entrepreneurs who are hoping to launch a startup. Founded in 1997 to stimulate the Thai software industry, Software Park Thailand is a government agency under the National Science and Technology Development Agency. It also maintains local and international networks with software companies, other software parks, incubation associations, universities, and government agencies.
Each year, Software Park Thailand works with 50-60 entrepreneurs, providing advice and support at every stage of the process. "A lot of these entrepreneurs have brilliant technical ideas, but they don't necessarily know all the ins and outs of running a successful business," said director Chalermpol Tuchinda. "We're a little bit like the managers of the Miss Universe [pageant]. We get them dressed up and prepared to be competitive at every stage of the process."
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