The National Higher Education, Science, Research and Innovation Policy Council (Policy Council) virtually convened on 19 July 2021. The meeting was chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Don Pramudwinai, with Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam and MHESI Minister Anek Laothamatas serving as Vice Chairs.
The meeting acknowledged the progress of major initiatives such as COVID-19 vaccine development, the 2021-2027 Bio-Circular-Green Economy (BCG) Action Plan, and some key BCG projects such as an establishment of Carbon Market Club to facilitate carbon trading. The meeting also deliberated on a number of agenda items as outlined below.
The Draft Higher Education, Science, Research and Innovation Policy and Strategy 2023-2027
The Policy Council approved the draft Higher Education, Science, Research and Innovation (HESRI) Policy and Strategy 2023-2027. The 2023-2027 HESRI Policy and Strategy addresses the government’s six high-priority areas, namely 1) Thailand to become the center of wellness and medicine by employing the value chain development strategy, 2) Thailand to become top tourism destination by applying the concept of creative economy focusing on value creation and sustainability, 3) Thailand to be on the top 10 countries with highest gross value of agricultural production, 4) strengthening self-reliance and capacity of Thailand’s elderly population, 5) strengthening Thailand’s technological capability and application to improve the manufacturing and service industry and create new growth engines, and 6) Thailand to become the ASEAN hub of high quality workforce and skilled talent by reinventing higher education system.
This draft policy and strategy will be submitted to the cabinet for approval. In addition, it will be used by MHESI for formulating the national manpower development plan and the national science, research and innovation plan.
Management Policy and Direction of the Scholarship Program
The meeting approved the management policy and direction of the S&T scholarship program. The proposed management policy and direction focuses on three issues: 1) reform the scholarship management to be more independent and revise the scholarship conditions – especially the scholar’s obligation after finishing the education – to be more flexible 2) introduce scholarship programs that will develop workforce meeting the current and future demand of the country and industry, and 3) implement monitoring and evaluation system and planning to utilize the full potential of scholarship recipients. The proposal will be submitted to the cabinet for further approval.
Higher Education Sandbox
Thailand is in need of higher education reform to better address new challenges. Lifelong education is required as multi-stage life become a new way of living. New forms of education will enable higher education to prepare the workforce with knowledge and skills in demand for the development of future industry. Education sandbox was therefore proposed in order to pave the way for new education that has not been regulated and standardized.
The meeting approved criteria, conditions, procedures and mechanisms for the education sandbox and established a committee to take charge of education sandbox on behalf of the Policy Council.
Innovation Fund for Industry
The meeting took note of the report from the Federation of Thai Industries (FTI) that it had established the Innovation Fund Foundation for Industry to provide financial support to encourage growth and enhance competitiveness of Thai SMEs with technology and innovation. The foundation aims to raise at least 1 billion THB from large corporations in Thailand. The Science, Research and Innovation Fund will allocate the matching fund to the foundation at 50:50 ratio in the first 3 years and the 200% tax exemption on the donation will be offered to enterprises.
The Draft National Artificial Intelligence (AI) Master Plan 2021-2027
The Policy Council approved the draft National AI Master Plan 2021-2027 and projects in Phase I of the master plan. The draft master plan and flagship projects will be submitted to the cabinet for further approval.
The National AI Master Plan was drafted by organizations under MHESI – namely, the National Science and Technology Development Agency (NSTDA), NXPO, Thailand Science Research Innovation (TSRI), PMU-C, PMU-B, in collaboration with the University AI Consortium and Ministry of Digital Economy and Society. The master plan sets strategy in five areas: 1) ethical, legal and social framework, 2) infrastructure, 3) human resource development and education, 4) technology and innovation and 5) application in the public and private sectors. Phase I of the plan (2021-2022) will focus on establishing key components such as data governance guidelines, data analytics and AI infrastructure, manpower, entrepreneurs, and AI R&D for applications in health, agriculture and government work and services. Phase II of the plan (2023-2027) will expand R&D and applications of AI to all target industrial sectors to foster a healthy AI ecosystem.