The fifth meeting of NSTDA’s International Advisory Committee (IAC) convened on 1-2 November, 2012 at the Anantara Riverside Hotel in Bangkok. The meeting was chaired by Prof. Harald zur Hausen, Professor Emeritus and Nobel Laureate, Deutsches Krebsforschungszentrum, Germany and was co-chaired by Dr. Robert Morris, Vice President Global Labs, IBM Research.
The first day of the two-day meeting comprised parallel tracks in agriculture and food as well as energy and the environment. Leading researchers from NSTDA presented their research and covered such topics such as nanocatalysts for biofuel production, enzyme technologies for biorefineries, and genomic tools for molecular breeding. IAC members congratulated the researchers on the high quality of the presentations and encouraged NSTDA to focus its efforts on areas in which Thailand has a unique advantage, to avoid doing “me too” research, and to incorporate a business mind set from at the very outset of any R&D project.
On the second day, IAC members provided the meeting with brief overview presentations of some key global research and innovation trends. Dr. Peter A. Singer Professor and Director, McLaughlin-Rotman Center for Global Health introduced the Gran Challenges approach to stimulating innovation with a focus on global health. Dr. Tamotsu Nomaguchi, President, National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST) discussed the role of the R&D institute during a time of national emergency with specific reference to the Great East Japan Earthquake. In spite of being directly affected by the earthquake, AIST recovered and played an important role in the recovery effort I terms of radiation measurements and geological surveys. Prof. zur Hausen addressed the question of synergy between basic and applied research and opened his presentation by stating that most innovations in the world come out of basic research.
The latter half of the morning focused on industrial linkages strategies. Dr. Robert Morris, the co-chair of the meeting, presented on both business research and the link between research and business. He stressed the importance of incorporating a business mindset at the very outset of the R&D project, not as an add-on at the end of the project. Sir Roy Anderson, Professor and Former Rector of Imperial College spoke of his experience in commercialization and intellectual property (IP) management and suggested that Thailand had an opportunity to grow a local venture capital industry. Prof. Markus Antonietti from the Max Planck Institute of Colloids and Interfaces in Germany discussed intellectual property management and made the convincing argument that IP had a finite value with limited shelf life, and that successful innovation must really happen within 1-3 years of a patent being filed.
The IAC meeting also discussed the upcoming ASEAN Economic Community in 2015, noting that it will be a tremendous economic force with huge opportunities provided issues such as language, standards and energy optimization were addressed.
The IAC is a significant effort on the part of NSTDA to seek the advice of internationally respected strategists, administrators, advisors and scientists in formulating its strategic and operational goals. NSTDA has benefited enormously from the support if its IAC members and very much looks forward to the next IAC meeting in 2014.