On 24 August 2020, NSTDA executives welcomed Prof. Dr. Anek Laothamatas, Minister of Higher Education, Science, Research and Innovation (MHESI) and his team at the construction site of the Eastern Economic Corridor of Innovation (EECi) in Wangchan District, Rayong Province to inspect the progress. EECi is the Government’s flagship project, aiming to be a new innovation hub offering a complete ecosystem for innovation and a new economic estate specializing in research, innovation, and related testing and evaluation, and NSTDA has been assigned to spearhead its development.
Since the groundbreaking ceremony presided over by Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-O-Cha in 27 February 2019, the construction has progressed on schedule and is currently 40% complete. Phase 1 of EECi, consisting of Headquarters building and key infrastructures supporting advanced research such as Biorefinery Pilot Plant, High Throughput Plant Phenomics Facility and Sustainable Manufacturing Center, is expected to be complete and operate by the end of 2021. The project has over 70 local and international alliances, representing academic & research institutes and public & private enterprises. In addition to supporting industrial sector, EECi also facilitates the utilization of research and innovation in the agricultural & academic sectors, as well as local communities around the EEC.
Aspiring to be a world-class innovation hub, EECi will direct resources and talents to perform translational research and technology localization. A range of translational research infrastructures and public and private national quality infrastructures including regulatory sandboxes will be established on site to support scaling up of locally developed technologies and facilitate foreign technology adaptation to local applications.
While the EECi construction is in progress, NSTDA has been working with partners to introduce modern agriculture technologies to growers and farmers in the nearby communities in order to improve productivity and reduce labor intensive task. Examples of technologies are smart greenhouse, biocontrol, smart plant watering system, weather stations and Aqua IoT. Agri-related technologies have been transferred to growers in 29 communities. Training of community leaders and young smart farmers was also provided to 29 participants. To promote technology adoption through demonstration and hands-on practice, NSTDA, in collaboration with enterprises and academic institutes, established 3 learning centers. The learning centers have facilitated the installation of “Handy Sense”, a smart farm system for precision agriculture, in 34 orchards/vegetable farms and “Aqua IoT” in 15 shrimp and fish farms.
In addition to the EECi contruction site, Minister Anek also paid a visit to Vidyasirimedhi Institute of Science and Technology (VISTEC), Kamnoetvidya Science Academy (KVIS) and Bua Kaew Durian Orchard. Bua Kaew Orchard was among the first few orchards in the EEC area that tested Smart Plant Watering Control and Weather Monitoring System developed by NSTDA research team.