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Industry Support News Year 2020

Global food production is faced with challenges. While demand for food is rising due to population growth, climate change is lowering the production capacity. Labor shortage has been a pain point in Thai agricultural and manufacturing sectors lately and the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated this problem as foreign labors are unable to enter the country. Automation technology therefore becomes a viable solution to Thai industry, especially the food industry which occupies as much as 25% of industry in Thailand.

AI Innovation Jumpstart Batch2 BKK: Demo Day,  an event showcasing ARI (Automation Robotics & Intelligent System) innovations, took place on 18 August 2020. Implemented by NSTDA’s Software Park Thailand, AI Innovation Jumpstart is a project designed to develop capacity and skills in ARI which are among enabling technologies for new S-curve industries. The project is opened to teams of university students and lecturers as well as innovators and entrepreneurs with strong potential to create commercial ARI innovations. Each selected team gets to participate in the boot camp where they receive training in technical and business skills (design thinking, lean canvas model, etc.), obtains a 100,000 THB grant to develop a prototype and has opportunities to connect with experts for advice and develop business connections.

Since October 2014, the Innovation and Technology Assistance Program (ITAP) of NSTDA and the Board of Trade of Thailand have jointly implemented a capacity building program for SMEs, cooperatives and community enterprises to improve the quality of fruit and vegetable to meet agricultural standards – such as Thai Good Agricultural Practices (ThaiGAP), global GAP and organic agriculture standards - and practice sustainable agriculture.  The program introduces growers to technologies and innovations to facilitate the transformation from traditional agriculture to modern agriculture, or Agriculture 4.0. Under this program, growers and SMEs, including cooperatives and community enterprises, receive technical and financial support from ITAP to enable them to comply with requirements of ThaiGAP. ITAP experts are drawn from Agricultural Standard Research and Development Institute and Faculty of Agriculture, Kasetsart University.

At a joint press conference held by NSTDA and the Krabi provincial administration on 8 July 2020, Dr. Narong Sirilertworakul, NSTDA President presented four innovations to Pol. Lt. Col. M.L. Kitibadee Prawit, Governor of Krabi province, to support “Krabi We Care” campaign to launch new normal tourism of this famous coastal city. The four innovations are BENZION disinfectant product, KAO SA-ARD shoe sole cleaning and disinfection machine, QueQ mobile application and Traffy Fondue system.

Four parties from the public and private sectors, including the Marine Department, National Science and Technology Development Agency (NSTDA), Banpu Next Co., Ltd., a subsidiary of Banpu  PCL., and Sakun C Innovation Co., Ltd., joined hands to sign an MoU in “Design development, production and standardization of quality electric ferries (e-Ferry) for the safety of water transportation and the promotion of maritime commerce.”

The MoU highlights objectives to raise the production standards of electric ferries while increasing competitiveness at the national and international levels, which will lead to sustainable growth of the industry, as well as encourage all sectors to recognize the importance of using clean energy in the industrial and business sectors. The agreement especially aims to promote the use of e-Ferries in tourism which will not only help save the energy, but also reduce water and air pollution in the long term. By using efficient water vessels, it will help return sustainability to the aquatic ecosystem, as well as offering a better quality of life for people in the community and tourists. Thailand’s first e-Ferry for travel under the new partnership is scheduled to launch officially within this year, serving as a fast, convenient and environmentally-friendly travel option.

Mr. Withaya Yamoung, Director-General of the Marine Department, shared his view, “The Marine Department is the primary government agency to supervise and promote the development of safe, efficient water transportation systems and maritime commerce. In accordance with international standards, our mission is to push forward the aquatic and maritime interconnection with other public transit systems in order to promote convenience, speed, safety and better coverage of intercity travel for the people. Our department strives to ensure the standards and provides direction guidance for the e-Ferry development in Thailand. Under our consultancy, private sectors can benefit from the commercial extension of business, ranging from using modern assembly technology in compliance with government standards, jointly developing and transferring knowledge of electric technology systems, to reviewing the criteria, terms, conditions, and laws for the inspection of electric vessels in accordance with utilized modern technology. Therefore, this collaboration in the development and production of Thailand’s first electric ferries for travel is a crucial step to improve the standards of the country’s water transportation systems and maritime commerce.”

 

Dr. Julathep Kajornchaiyakul, Executive Director of National Metal and Materials Technology Center (MTEC), National Science and Technology Development Agency (NSTDA), revealed, “NSTDA has been engaging in the activities regarding electric vehicles for over 10 years.  We pioneered the development of battery technology with component systems, such as the BMS cooling systems. Recently, the government cabinet has approved to establish the National Energy Technology Center (ENTEC) to be the research entity with direct responsibilities in this field. Meanwhile, NSTDA continues the research and development of motor with control systems in order to identify new motor technologies that are suitable for domestic production. We also integrated cutting-edge technology, such as IoT, smart systems, and various design and structure analysis systems for electric vehicles focusing on lightweight to save the energy and increase safety. NSTDA is equipped with a research and service team with expertise in the development of standards, assessment, and product certifications. Our team of experts also has hands-on experience working with government agencies and in many fields of industry, such as standard formulations relating to electric vehicles, and IoT technology, such as socket-outlet standards and charging stations, etc. NSTDA will bring these strengths together to promote the operations under this partnership in order to create a sustainable development of the e-Ferry industry in Thailand.”

 

Mrs. Somruedee Chaimongkol, Chief Executive Officer of Banpu PCL. and Banpu Next Co., Ltd., revealed that “BanpuNext, a subsidiary of Banpu , as a leading smart clean energy solution provider in Asia-Pacific, continues to underline the Greener & Smarter strategy of Banpu by bringing together innovation, knowledge and expertise to support the development and production of the first e-Ferry for travel in Thailand. With regards to our e-Ferry development strategy, we’ve integrated a variety of energy technology solutions, utilizing both hardware and software in the production development, including high-capacity lithium-ion battery (LiB) - a prominent business of Durapower Holdings Pte Ltd—a joint-investment with BanpuNext, developed especially for the usage of e-Ferries. Moreover, the company has embarked on the procurement for e-Ferry charging stations. At the same time, we make sure to equip these stations with cutting-edge software technology, such as the Energy Management System (EMS) for energy storage control, charging and regulation of appropriate usage capacities. This enabled us to analyze the data in order to plan the preventive maintenance for the e-Ferries to always be ready and work with full efficiency. We believe that this joint partnership will help improve water transportation, promote the use of clean energy vehicles with high efficiency, help reduce environmental pollution, as well as create a better quality of life for people in the community, society and tourists.”

 

Mr. Namchai Sakunchoknamchai, President of Sakun C Innovation Co., Ltd., further explained, “Sakun C has been jointly studying the feasibility of electric ferries alongside NSTDA for many years. The vessels that we had successfully developed can directly support the installation of electric systems. However, there are limitations in many aspects as well as other components such as the electric systems that still cannot respond to the market. Furthermore, there are still issues about the battery usage, the confidence in spending, the warranty, the charging systems, the price range that is negotiables in business, the unclear rules and regulations, and the lack of technical professionals who are knowledgeable about the inspections and operations of the ships. Most importantly, there has been no organizations which can provide clear answers to these issues. Eventually, after we collaborated with BanpuNext, a leading smart clean energy company with robust policies and directions to create a sustainable development of alternative energy, we capped on their professionalism to answer these battery technology issues with the Energy Management System (EMS) and the charging system, as well as the warranty issues. We also had a meeting with the Director-General of the Marine Department regarding the production and registration of the e-Ferries, in which, he has provided great advice and assistance in calling meetings of all relevant parties in order to plan and improve the systems, as well as to develop human resources and work models in lined with current technology. Apart from this, we have invited NSTDA to share knowledge about all aspects of electric systems. This e-Ferry project jointly developed with BanpuNext has now progressed up to 90% and we are currently undergoing various system tests to ensure utmost confidence. These e-Ferries are not manufactured only for research purposes or for personal use. The vessels are produced for actual commercial purposes for the clients who placed orders to bring them to service in the tourism industry in the Southern Seas of Thailand. Therefore, we need to ensure a stringent and thorough standard testing procedure. We hope that this partnership will yield benefits to the Thai e-Ferry business sector.”

On 19 June 2020, an online MOU signing ceremony was held among 13 organizations to forge an implementation of Industry 4.0 via Industrial IoT and Data Analytics (IDA) Platform. The signing was witnessed by Dr. Suvit Maesincee, Minister of Higher Education, Science, Research and Innovation (MHESI).

On 16 June 2020, executives of NSTDA and Thailand Center of Excellence for Life Sciences (TCELS) participated in a signing of an MOU on medical research and innovation. Representing the two organizations were Dr. Narong Sirilertworakul, NSTDA President and Dr. Nares Damrongchai, TCELS CEO.  The partnership aims to support medical research, translate research results into practice, and enhance competitiveness of medical device industry to meet international standards. Both parties will join force to support the utilization of advanced technology to accelerate the development of innovations that benefit public health, ranging from cancer drugs, biopharmaceuticals, herbal medicines, medical software, precision medicine, functional and specialty foods. An ecosystem to foster medical device and service industry will be developed which include mechanisms to promote technology transfer and commercialization. Through NSTDA’s connection with the World Business Angel Forum (WBAF) and NSTDA Holding Company, startups and entrepreneurs will gain access to heath-focused investment capital.

Thailand is known for its vibrant street food scene. Street food offers convenient, delicious and inexpensive meals and has become part of Thai culture. Stands and street vendors can easily be found along the streets and in markets day and night for locals and tourists to enjoy the taste of Thai cuisine. Despite its popularity, street food suffers from negative reputations for being unsafe and polluting the environment with wastewater discharged directly onto the street, as well as oily fume and cooking odor emissions.

Pet ownership is on the rise in Thailand, with dogs and cats leading the way. People increasingly have close contact with their domestic animals, which can escalate the transmission of diseases, especially fungal skin infections, from animals to humans. Although there are a number of pet medications available for treating fungal infections, some of them contain chemicals with potential side effects of damaging animals’ internal organs such as liver, stomach and intestines. Many of these medicines are imported and therefore can be expensive for consumers.  NANOTEC-NSTDA therefore explored the idea of using herbal extracts which can be sourced locally for treating fungal skin infections in pets. In addition to enabling a locally made and less expensive product for Thai consumers, products containing natural ingredients are more inclined to be safe for animals and humans, as well as the environment.

National Science and Technology Development (NSTDA), Innovation Technology Assistance Program (ITAP) under the Technology Management Center (TMC) has launched 'The New Aged Citizens Project' by supporting prospective SMEs to take on the challenge of aging society with a new business model running on the basis of science, technology, and innovation. One of the SMEs in the incubation is Sooksabuy (Thailand) Co., Ltd. The company was supported to develop the Artificial Intelligent (AI) technology as a virtual architectural consultant software to evaluate and recommend real estate properties that are suitable for the retirees. Sooksabuy platform is a powerful tool to immediately respond to the demand of retired users to match the supply of local developers/homeowners with the international standard of design for the elderly.

Medical Devices Demand-Supply Matching for COVID-19 is an innovative digital platform to facilitate the donations of medical devices and supplies by matching the demand and supply sides. Potential donors (individuals or enterprises) and recipients (hospitals and healthcare service providers) can simply register and log in to provide personal information and medical devices and supplies that they would like to match.  The platform can match the medical items and their quantities as well as provide contact information for donors and recipients to make contact. The system also includes logistic service to facilitate and track the shipment. The matching system can be applied to other crises in the future. The system can be accessed through the following website: www.mds4covid19.in.th.

Realizing that nanotechnology has potential to up the value of traditional textiles by providing unique and new properties and functionalities to the textiles, NANOTEC-NSTDA established a pilot plant for transferring nanotextile technology. The pilot plant offers textile nanofinishing services based on NANOTEC’s advanced R&D in developing coating and finishing processes. At present, five finishes are available:

On 10 March 2020, NSTDA President Dr. Narong Sirilertworakul and Chulalongkorn University President Prof. Dr. Bundhit Eua-arporn announced the collaboration on Innovation and Technology Assistance Program (ITAP). ITAP is NSTDA’s initiative to promote R&D and the adoption of advanced technologies to enhance the competitiveness of Thai SMEs.  Assistance is provided in the forms of experts, R&D management and financial support.

On 11 March 2020, executives of MTEC-NSTDA, NSTDA and CP All gathered to mark the collaboration on innovative food packaging that offers safety to consumers and friendliness to the environment. Executives in attendance included Mr. Wisade Wisidwinyoo, Member of CPRAM Executive Committee, Dr. Julathep Kajornchaiyakul, MTEC Executive Director and Ms. Suwipa Wanasathop, NSTDA Vice President.

NSTDA and Maejo University recently reached an agreement to strengthen collaboration on R&D, education, and technology outreach of smart farming technologies, aiming to enhance competitiveness of Thai farming sector. Under this partnership, the two parties will promote smart farming technologies to farmers through technology testing and demonstration at the agricultural facilities of Maejo University.

On 20 February 2020, a press conference was held announcing the first autonomous vehicle driving test in Thailand. The 8-month demonstration has been carried out at SIRI VENTURES Private PropTech Sandbox located at T77 Community since the last quarter of 2019 and will complete by June 2020.

Whey protein has gained increasing popularity in Thailand over the past years. This surge is driven by rising health consciousness among consumers. Whey protein is heat sensitive. Because of its low capacity to withstand processing in higher temperature, whey protein is commercially available in the forms of powder or cold beverage, which are not convenient to consumers as the former needs further preparation and the latter only has a short shelf life of 1-2 weeks and requires refrigeration. This market gap has prompted Tawan Bott & Can Company and BIOTEC-NSTDA to co-develop ready-to-drink whey protein with a longer shelf life and can be stored at room temperature, catering to the modern lifestyle of today’s consumers.

Asphalt concrete is a composite material commonly used for constructing and maintaining roads, parking areas, airport runways, sidewalks and sport areas. Despites its high flexibility and durability especially under Thailand’s tropical climate, asphalt’s usage in Thailand is still limited to expansive area because heavy equipment and expertise are required. Although ready-mixed asphalt is now widely available in the market for patching, pothole and repair, this product still requires compaction and time for the material to settle and odor to dissipate.

NSTDA concluded an MoU with Thai Airways (THAI) and its subsidiary, Thai Smile Airways (THAI Smile), on food waste management in supporting the “Save Food, Save the World” campaign. The MoU signing ceremony was presided over by Mr. Saksayam Chidchob, Transport Minister and Mr. Varawut Silpa-archa, Natural Resources and Environment Minister, and attended by Mr. Sumeth Damrongchaitham, THAI President, Mrs. Charita Leelayudth, THAI Smile Chief Executive Officer, and Dr. Narong Sirilertworakul, NSTDA President, and Air Chief Marshal Chaiyapruk Didyasarin, THAI Chairman.

NSTDA recently launched Total Innovation Management Enterprise or TIME. TIME is a new manpower development program aiming at developing highly skilled workforce to support tech industry which is considered new engines of growth. This program is built upon the successful pilot Work-integrated Learning (WiL) program previously implemented by the Office of National Higher Education Science Research and Innovation Policy Council (NXPO), in which industry working experience was incorporated into the vocational education curriculum.