Bio-Circular-Green Economic Model or BCG has been introduced by the research community and promoted by the Thai government as a new economic model for inclusive and sustainable growth. The BCG model capitalizes the country’s strengths in biological diversity and cultural richness and employs technology and innovation to transform Thailand to a value-based and innovation-driven economy. The model also conforms with the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and is also intended to align with the Sufficiency Economy Philosophy (SEP) which is also the key principle of Thailand’s social and economic development.
Based on Thailand’s strengths in robust agricultural activities, rich natural resources, and diversity in terms of both biological resources and physical geography, the BCG model is applied to focus on promoting four industries – namely agriculture and food; medical and wellness; bioenergy, biomaterial and biochemical; and tourism and creative economy. Science, technology and innovation will be employed to enhance the capacity and competitiveness of players in the value chain, both upstream and downstream, in all four industries, coupling with innovative policy and supportive legal and financial measures.
At present, these four industries have a combined economic value of 3.4 trillion THB, accounting for 21% of GDP. It is expected that the BCG model can raise this number to 4.4 trillion THB (or 24% of GDP) in the next five years. The BCG model can create value addition as follows:
- Food and Agriculture. The value of this sector can be multiplied with product diversification, product differentiation, high-value and premium-quality products and services, waste reduction, resource- and land-use efficiency improvement. This strategy can be enabled by R&D and technologies such as customer behavior analytics, optimized waste production, smart farming technologies, traceability, food and product safety, as well as the development of high-value and novel food products such as food for special groups of people (patients and the elderly, for example) and functional ingredients.
- Medical and Wellness. The strategy includes intensive capacity building in technology and human capital in R&D and production technology for vaccines, biopharmaceuticals and medical devices, as well as clinical research and product registration of pharmaceuticals and medical devices, all in support of Thailand’s healthcare policy of promoting preventive medicine and precision medicine. Platforms to facilitate the utilization of genetic data as well as clinical research among involved parties including researchers, industry and regulatory bodies will also be established.
- Bioenergy, Biomaterial and Biochemical. This sector has high potential growth due to the government policy setting a renewable energy target of 30% of total final energy consumption by 2036. The energy sector can benefit from advanced technology in energy produced from renewable sources such as refuse derived fuel (RDF) and biogas, as well as the establishment of community-based power plants (CBP) with a distributed energy resources (DERs) system using renewable energy sources, including biomass and biogas and connected through blockchain-enabled smart microgrids. This vision will require intensive research in energy storage systems. As for the materials and biochemical sector, cutting-edge technologies will be developed and employed to convert biomass and agricultural by-products to high-value commodities such as bioplastics, fibers and pharmaceuticals.
- Tourism and Creative Economy. Thai tourism industry can benefit from the policy to promote secondary cities and communities as new tourist destinations. Technology and innovation will be applied to create and upgrade infrastructure and a digital platform to improve tourists’ convenience and experience and advance the industry to high-quality tourism. Science and technology will be employed to define national guidelines for tourism, e.g. carrying capacity, support sustainable tourism standard system and conserve and rehabilitate the environment. Under the creative economy concept, tourism can be linked to other service industries to target niche markets such as wellness tourism, culinary tourism, eco-tourism, cultural tourism and sports tourism.
The BCG strategy consists of 4 drivers and 4 enablers, involving the government, industry, communities, academia and international organizations.
- BCG Sectoral Development. The BCG model will focus on four sectors.
- Food and Agriculture. The goal is to migrate from low-value commodities to value-added and premium products, as well as diversify products.
- Medical and Wellness. The goal is to build capacity on drug and biopharmaceutical production, medical devices and implants, precision medicine and become a hub of healthcare services and clinical research.
- Bioenergy, Biomaterial and Biochemical. The goal is to achieve energy security and convert biomass to high-value commodities.
- Tourism and Creative Economy. This sector aims to develop sustainable tourism, tourism destination management system, conserve the environment and link tourism with other service industries in order to advance to high-quality tourism such as wellness tourism, culinary tourism, eco-tourism, cultural tourism and sports tourism.
- BCG Talent & Entrepreneur Development. The BCG model will target the following groups:
- Innovation-Driven Enterprises (IDEs)
- Smart Farmers
- High Value Service Providers
- Deep Technology Developers
- Creative Entrepreneurs
- BCG Area-based Development. Plans for area-based development are:
- Northern Economic Corridor (NEC). The focus of NEC will be on food safety and agricultural health standards, agro-industry and food processing, and the integration of “Lanna Culture” into the products and services.
- North-Eastern Economic Corridor (NEEC). The focus is on resolving major health issues inherent to this region such as liver fluke, promoting insect farming for an alternative protein source and developing cultural tourism along the Mekong riverbank.
- Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC). The development in this region will focus on fruit production and the development of future industries.
- Southern Economic Corridor (NEC). This area will focus on precision aquaculture, innovative halal food products and development of new tourist destinations.
- BCG Frontier Research/ Knowledge. The following cutting-edge areas have been identified as important to the development of BCG:
- Complex Microbiota
- Omics Technologies
- Bioprocess Engineering
- Gene Editing and Synthetic Biology
- Terahertz Technology
- Artificial Intelligence and High-Performance Computing
- Advanced Digital Technology Platform integrating 5G connectivity and artificial intelligence system for applications in autonomous vehicle, neurocomputing and underwater surveying.
- BCG Regulatory Framework. This enabler aims at reviewing and making amendments to laws and regulations in order to build an innovation ecosystem, support technology sandbox and enable product life cycle assessment.
- BCG Infrastructure & Facility Development. The following facilities will be developed and supported:
- National Quality Infrastructure (NQI)
- Pilot and Demonstration Plants
- High Performance Computing Facility
- Highspeed Internet
- BCG Capacity Building. This enabler aims at developing manpower in various fields and at all levels from students to the current workforce. The fields that will be in demand in BCG model include taxonomy, system biology, bioinformatics, life sciences, computer engineering and data science.
- BCG Global Network. Collaboration with international partners will be developed in the forms of research collaboration, technology demonstration, technology localization, or joint investment.