Industry Support News Year 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has killed over 1 million people and caused significant damages to the economy. Despite the availability of vaccine, testing remains critical as it helps contain and mitigate the COVID-19 pandemic by identifying infected individuals to help prevent further person-to-person transmission of COVID-19.

RT-PCR has been adopted as the standard method for COVID-19 detection due to its accuracy, specificity and sensitivity. As the method requires expensive laboratory equipment and trained technicians to perform and interpret results, making the PCR platform inaccessible to the wider population, thus crippling the ability to contain the spread.

A press briefing was held on 14 December 2020 by Healthiness Company Limited to introduce Besuto12 hand cleansing gel. Besuto12 was developed by Healthiness Company Limited, in partnership with AVS Innovation Company Limited - a research company based at Thailand Science Park – and funded by NSTDA under the Fast Track for Medicine and Medical Device Fight COVID-19 Program.

The Mango Export Community Enterprise Bang Phae District, Ratchaburi Province was founded in 2012. The enterprise produces around 200 tons of mango fruits annually, on the area of 58 rai (9.28 ha), for both domestic and export markets. Russia and countries in the Middle East are among its export markets. Both ThaiGAP and GMP standards have been adopted.

The enterprise contacted the Innovation and Technology Assistance Program (ITAP) of NSTDA for a consultation to find an alternative fruit ripening agent to calcium carbide that it had been using. Calcium carbide is commonly used for artificial ripening of fruits due to economic price and market availability. However, its use is discouraged worldwide due to its side effects to human health.

NSTDA and three partners, namely FDA Thailand, Department of Medical Sciences and Faculty of Pharmacy, Mahidol University, recently launched the collaboration to establish a database of Thai medicinal plants for cosmetics and herbal products intended for external use. The database aims to support Thai herbal product industry in developing high-quality and safe cosmetics and herbal products with comprehensive scientific data and facts as well as applicable regulations.

One of the highlights at Thailand Tech Show 2020 was the Investment Pitching event in which 10 researchers presented their innovations to potential investors for business opportunities. This year, a wide-range of innovations were pitched, including seed purity test, negative pressure patient transportation chamber, air cleaner, COVID-19 test kit, software for evaluating a microorganism’s potential in producing a bioproduct, fabric paint produced from rubber latex, UVC disinfection robot, RF dry blanching technology for dried herb production, antimicrobial food packaging film and container load optimization software. 

THAILAND TECH SHOW 2020 - an annual event showcasing inventions developed and services offered by Thai academic and research institutes to potential investors, tech entrepreneurs, startups, SMEs and corporates – held an opening ceremony on 2 December 2020, marking the first time the event is organized in a fully virtual format.

Green Rock is a new construction material co-developed by MTEC and Charan Business 52 Company Limited, a subsidiary of Thai Beverage Public Company Limited (ThaiBev). It was originated from G-Rock innovation, developed by Dr. Pitak Laoratanakul of MTEC, that upcycles by-products from agricultural and industrial activities and creates lightweight pellets used for reinforcing lightweight concrete. The lightweight pellets add weight-bearing and insulation properties to and reduces the weight of regular concrete.

NSTDA President Dr. Narong Sirilertworakul announced at the press conference on 17 November 2020 that NSTDA will be hosting THAILAND TECH SHOW 2020 from 2-4 December 2020. This year’s event will be held in a fully virtual format in order to mitigate congestion of people and ensure the safety of participants amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

NSTDA and the Stock Exchange of Thailand (SET) signed an agreement to employ technology and innovation to enhance capacity of SMEs and startups in Thailand. The cooperation will focus on encouraging SMEs and startups to employ an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system which has potential to increase efficiencies, improve productivity, decreased costs and streamlined processes in an enterprise.

On 2 November 2020, an agreement was signed among three parties, including NSTDA, Thailand Science Research and Innovation (TSRI) and the National Research Council of Thailand (NRCT) to advance into the 3rd phase of partnership to support research and development to improve SMEs competitiveness. Participating in the signing ceremony were executives from the three parties, namely Dr. Thitapha Smitinont, NSTDA Executive Vice President, Assoc. Prof. Dr. Pongpan Kaewtathip, TSRI Deputy Director and Dr. Wiparat De-ong, Acting NRCT Executive Director.

It has been reported that business incubation program can increase the success rate of new businesses by 30%. Business incubators, therefore, play a pivotal role in transitioning Thailand into an innovation-driven economy. As most universities in Thailand have established business incubators, they have substantial capacity to support innovators and tech entrepreneurs throughout the country. To strengthen Thailand’s innovation ecosystem, Technology Management Center (NSTDA-TMC) has been actively implementing a project to develop capability of business incubators in Thai universities in the past three years.

On 29 September 2020, a consortium of academic institutes, public and private enterprises met with Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha and members of the Cabinet at the Government House to present the progress of City Transit E-buses Project.

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.”

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:

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.