The National Research Council of Thailand (NRCT) recently revealed Thailand’s R&D expenditure in 2021 according to the survey conducted in 2022. Amid raging pandemic, the gross expenditures on R&D (GERD) in 2021 dropped 5.98% from the previous year, standing at THB 195.57 billion or 1.21% of GDP, compared to THB 208.01 billion and 1.33% in previous year. Contribution made by the private sector in 2021 was THB 144.887 billion (THB 141.706 billion in the previous year), whereas that of the government and non-profit organizations was THB 50.683 billion (THB 66.304 billion in the previous year). The industrial sector continued to play a big part in the country’s R&D activities as its R&D spending accounted for 74% of GERD.
NXPO Vice President Dr. Siriporn Pittayasophon explained that R&D data is an important figure used extensively in the local and international analyses and studies such as the competitiveness ranking by the International Institute for Management Development (IMD), STI budget planning, national strategic planning, and national policy design. Thailand is following the global trend in having the industry spending more on R&D than the state due to its role as an economic driver whereas the government provides supports and facilities such as unlocking legal barriers to boost R&D to 2% GDP by 2027.
To achieve the target R&D level, Dr. Siriporn added that the government has enriched an innovation ecosystem by introducing legislations and measures such as the new Thailand Research and Innovation Utilization Promotion (TRIUP) Act B.E. 2564 that grants IP ownership to research organizations in the first two years to promote IP exploitation, encouraging universities to set up holding companies, the establishment of innovation catalogue to support the government procurement program, the platform for workforce development to meet industrial demands, and a program to train innovation managers.
NXPO is in the process of proposing a ministerial regulation on the public-private joint investment in research and innovation utilization to the cabinet. The regulation will provide guidance to universities on joint investment and holding company establishment. In addition, a new offset policy is being introduced by NXPO in collaboration with the Comptroller General’s Department and Thailand Science Research Innovation (TSRI), to impose a condition of technology/knowledge transfer to Thai industry or academia when a government organization procures products from foreign suppliers. The offset policy will help strengthen the nation’s technological capacity and increase its competitiveness. In term of fund, an annual budget in the order of THB 15 to 20 billion has been allocated to the Science, Research and Innovation Promotion Fund which is administered by 9 funding agencies. A new regulation has been introduced, allowing public fund to be granted to private companies.
As for manpower development, Thailand Plus Package was established to promote STEM employment and workforce development in the private sector. Tax incentives are given to enterprises that hire STEM workers and engage in upskilling their employees. A database of high-skilled personnel has also been created to boost innovation capacity in firms.
“All these afore-mentioned actions and measures clearly demonstrated the government’s commitment to enrich our innovation ecosystem to boost R&D investment in the private sector,” Dr. Siriporn concluded.