Thailand moving ahead to develop ‘Innovation City’ and reconnect the world

  • Strong spatial potential of Bangkok explored and analyzed to attract innovation-driven enterprises from around the world
  • The country remains in the Top 50 in Global Startup Ecosystem Index   
  • Startup x Innovation Thailand Expo 2022 (SITE 2022) to be held hybridly in June this year  

Thailand is forging forward with the development of its first smart innovation hub, led by the National Innovation Agency (Public Organization), better known as NIA. This is accomplished by exploring and analyzing the spatial potential of Bangkok and other significant cities for a specific purpose. After the country’s reopening from the COVID-19 pandemic, Bangkok is intended to be a regional innovation hub for innovation-friendly investment, regional air travel hub, and the creation of innovation districts, with the goal of attracting innovation-based entrepreneurs and stimulating strategic partnerships from around the world.

Thailand also maintains its position in the Top 50 of the Global Startup Ecosystem Index 2021, with four of its cities ranking among the first 1,000 cities with the finest infrastructure and resources for fostering the startup ecosystem.

Commenting on the ambitious move, Dr. Pun-Arj Chairatana, Executive Director of NIA, said: “Many cities throughout the world have policies in place to improve the quality of life and the economy, as well as to make their communities more livable. To make the city a sustainable city, innovation is employed to promote problem-solving and handle difficulties in a fast and effective manner. Bangkok is a city that is constantly expanding. Urbanization is critical, and it invariably requires policies that encourage or provide space for innovation. Such challenges are crucial in supporting the capital’s and the country’s lifestyles and economic prosperity.”

He also said, “To build a brand-related to innovation for Bangkok, it should create an impression that is more than just a city welcoming tourist. What must be pushed intensely is to develop a truly international innovation collaboration space for the community of digital startups, corporates, entrepreneurs, world changers, and innovators. It is a world-class network that wants to help accelerate innovation through fostering co-creation, friendly regulations, and welcoming urban development plans that attract innovative business entrepreneurs. It should also enable connectivity to other cities in order to lessen the concentration of growth and allow for new ways to utilize the resources available in each place. When these cities are discussed, they will have a distinct image, such as being a green city, a clean technology city, or a retail center, which will become a city brand.”

“Many cities designated as Smart Cities or Innovation Cities, such as Barcelona, London, Shenzhen, New York, and other Asian and European cities, must have critical features that are friendly to innovation. They all have the capacity to govern the city’s infrastructure and have regulations that encourage the development of new ideas. It also has the image of a city government that promotes growth through innovation,” said Dr. Pun-Arj.

According to NIA, Thailand has the potential to become an Innovative City in three areas: financial innovation, aviation hub growth, and the creation of innovation districts that invite international investment.

Bangkok as a regional hub for investment in innovation ventures

Bangkok has the potential to become an ASEAN powerhouse for investment in innovation ventures. Previously, investors had the option of choosing between Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, and Jakarta. More global venture capital firms, on the other hand, have chosen to invest in Bangkok because of the city’s reputation as a hotbed of financial innovation, owing to the city’s well-built infrastructure. Furthermore, the city is working to expand opportunities for persons who are skilled or have experience. Efforts have been made to promote the body of knowledge, commercial collaborations, and new business connections. 

The city has a variety of educational institutions that may provide upskilling and reskilling as well as information regarding financial services developments. The country receives advantages in terms of pulling money from both within and beyond the country by building a framework to promote the use of technology to assist the financial innovation industry. As a result, many people think of Bangkok as a nice city willing to welcome the financial innovation community, and these good aspects shine out so that more people notice them.

Bangkok as a regional ‘aviation hub’ when the world is reconnected

Bangkok’s strength is that it is the world’s air transportation hub. Because there are just two countries in ASEAN, with Singapore and Bangkok competing for the position, visitors to the region can easily travel to diverse destinations both domestically and internationally. Tourism is expected to return to normal after the COVID-19 pandemic has passed. The most important things to plan in Bangkokare solutions for travelers and convenience for entrepreneurs. This invites inventive people from all over the world to engage and collaborate with other sectors by proving that it is an open city for Global Citizens.

‘Innovation districts’ defined as areas rich in opportunities that must be expanded

One of the most important things that visitors to Bangkok look for is the uniqueness of each region and the benefits that can be derived from them. Bangkok has several potentials for innovation. A certain area of the city can be designated as a medical district, a digital development district, a tourism zone, or a logistics district, among other things. These can serve as incubators for entrepreneurs and catalysts for economic value creation. Many stakeholders will benefit from the commitment to establish innovation districts, and it will be a driving factor for economic growth today and in the future.

Bangkok as the startup capital

Thailand remains in the Top 50 of StartupBlink’s Global Startup Ecosystem Index 2021, a global resource for knowledge on innovation ecosystems that ranks 100 nations and 1,000 cities with the finest startup ecosystems. Thailand also has four cities among the top 1,000 in the world with the best startup ecosystems. Bangkok is ranked 71st in the world for startups based on the level of innovative prowess of 1,000 cities. This shows the availability of infrastructure, urban setting, and other factors that are comparable to their Southeast Asian or Asian counterparts.

Bangkok is also distinctive in terms of e-commerce and retail technology, ranking 33rd in the globe. Quantitative criteria such as co-working spaces, business facilities, the number of companies/branches functioning in research and technology, Internet convenience, and speed are all included. Unlike Jakarta, which has produced numerous unicorns, and Singapore, which is recognized for its financial startups, Bangkok stands out for its diversity, which it can use to connect with urban lifestyles. This stimulates investors’ interest in many types of businesses, particularly DeepTech, which the government and the NIA are actively supporting.

“To become an innovative city that can attract foreign investors and innovators, a number of factors must be in place, including collaboration among local administrative organizations, innovation investors, the new generation of leaders, educational institutions, research and development communities, and, most importantly, urban residents’ willingness to focus on innovation. We believe that by working together, they can make Bangkok more inventive.”

Dr. Pun-Arj concluded, “The transformation into a knowledge-based economy and leading investment destination will attract innovation-driven enterprises and stimulate strategic partnerships, further developing our growing tech sector by nurturing inclusive growth and impacting the lives of thousands of people in Thailand and beyond.”

Thailand, headed by NIA, will host Startup x Innovation Thailand Expo 2022 (SITE 2022), to showcase outstanding innovative products and services and connect leading startups, innovators, experts, business executives and investors. The event will be held hybridly on June 23-25, 2022, with the theme “Reconnecting the World.”

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