NSTDA held a groundbreaking ceremony of Eastern Economic Corridor of Innovation (EECi) at Wangchan Valley in Rayong Province on 27 February 2019. The auspicious occasion was participated by General Prayut Chan-O-Cha, Prime Minister and members of the cabinet, setting off the construction of what would be a new innovation hub of Southeast Asia.
NSTDA has been entrusted by Ministry of Science and Technology with an important task to lead the development of EECi, and to work in collaboration with concerned ministries such as Energy, Transportation, Interior and Education, as well as stakeholders to create a dynamic innovation ecosystem to support the vision of Thailand 4.0 which aims to transform the nation to an innovation-driven economy. EECi will focus on 6 technologies, namely 1) modern agriculture and biotechnology, 2) biofuels and biochemicals, 3) high capacity battery and modern transportation, 4) automation, robotics and smart electronics, 5) aerospace and aviation and 6) medical devices. All six areas will all be integrated to strengthen Thailand’s long-term bioeconomy. These will be placed into 4 innovative platforms: BIOPOLIS (biotechnology), ARIPOLIS (automation, robotics, and intelligent electronics), FOOD INNOPOLIS (technologies and innovation serving food industry) and SPACE INNOPOLIS (aerospace and aviation).
“Within 3 to 5 years, this 500-hectare area in Wangchan Valley will be developed into a world-class innovation hub, consisting of academic institutes, research centers, pilot plant facilities, demonstration plants, testing labs and residential area completed with facilities such as hospital, hotel, community market. In addition, a regulatory sandbox will be established as a testing ground for new technologies under the supervision and recommendations of regulators. Private companies will receive maximum incentives and privileges,” said Dr. Narong Sirilertworakul, NSTDA President.
Construction of the 1st phase, to be completed in 2021 with the budget of 1.1 billion baht, will include an EECi headquarters building, pilot plants and smart greenhouse for BIOPOLIS and major infrastructures for ARIPOLIS and SPACE INNOPOLIS. In addition, a 3.4 billion baht investment will be made towards the establishment of a biorefinery pilot plant from 2020-2022, to support value creation of agricultural products and bioresources.
A number of enterprises from various sectors have expressed strong interest to move into EECi, ranging from bioeconomy, to modern agriculture, robotics, energy storage and UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle). Attractive privileges for industry include long-term land lease to establish research centers, renting lab space in the public research facilities, access to premium infrastructures such as scientific equipment, testing facilities, pilot plants, co-working space, experimental & demonstration area, exemption of corporate income tax of 13 years, a flat 17% personal income tax for high-level experts, work permit for foreign experts, access to regulatory sandbox, scientists and experts in public research organizations.
The government is committed to put in a 33.17 billion baht investment to EECi and this investment is expected to attract over 110 billion baht investment from industry within the next two decades and generate over 271 billion baht in impact.