NSTDA

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NSTDA
Jan 12, 2010

NSTDA

Accelerating Science, Technology, and Innovation Development in Thailand

With the ultimate goal of becoming a knowledge-based society, Thailand sees opportunity in the midst of an economic crisis where science, technology, and innovation can play a vital role in achieving an economic turn-around and sustainable growth over the long term. With an abundance of natural resources coupled with a strategic geographical location, education and research will be the tools used to transform these indigenous resources into products in high demand in the global marketplace.

“Our role is to help our nation prosper in an increasingly competitive global economy by enabling the industrial, agricultural, and services sectors to do things better and smarter through research and innovation,” said Dr. Sakarindr Bhumiratana, president of the National Science and Technology Development Agency (NSTDA), an autonomous state agency that is responsible for building Thailand’s science and technology capacity.

NSTDA’s mission is to promote and...

Accelerating Science, Technology, and Innovation Development in Thailand

With the ultimate goal of becoming a knowledge-based society, Thailand sees opportunity in the midst of an economic crisis where science, technology, and innovation can play a vital role in achieving an economic turn-around and sustainable growth over the long term. With an abundance of natural resources coupled with a strategic geographical location, education and research will be the tools used to transform these indigenous resources into products in high demand in the global marketplace.

“Our role is to help our nation prosper in an increasingly competitive global economy by enabling the industrial, agricultural, and services sectors to do things better and smarter through research and innovation,” said Dr. Sakarindr Bhumiratana, president of the National Science and Technology Development Agency (NSTDA), an autonomous state agency that is responsible for building Thailand’s science and technology capacity.

NSTDA’s mission is to promote and bring to fruition research and innovation via competitive R&D funding; effective knowledge and technology transfer; highly qualified human resources development; and building first rate S&T infrastructure.

True Value of Innovation

Good innovation must bring added value to existing products and services, while generating a positive socio-economic impact on the wealth and quality of life for the people of Thailand.

NSTDA pursues a cluster-based approach to its funding and management of R&D. The eight national clusters are food and agriculture; medicine and public health; renewable energy; software, microchips, and electronics; automotives and traffic; environment; textiles; and rural communities and the underprivileged. The selection of these clusters reflects national social and economic priorities. The clusters are supported by a range of technology platforms designed to meet the needs of Thai industry. The research output of the various clusters is closely monitored to ensure ongoing industrial relevance. “This new approach to R&D management is fostering a research culture at NSTDA where scientists work closely with a number of key stakeholders including universities, state agencies, and the private sector to develop innovative products and services that meet the ever-changing needs of industry and society,” added Dr. Bhumiratana.

Kitchen of the World

For most of the last decade, Thailand was ranked among the top 10 of food-producing countries worldwide. The country is currently the world’s largest rice exporter, contributing around 10 million tons of the annual 30 million tons of international rice trade. The country is the world’s largest rubber producer and second-largest sugar exporter, and also Asia’s top exporter of chicken meat, shrimp and several other commodities, thus feeding more than four times its own population.

NSTDA’s R&D stronghold in the areas of agriculture and food through its four National Research Centers ranges from seeds, rice, cassava, algae, post-harvest processing, greenhouse, and longer shelf life food packaging for export to agricultural produce quality assurance. Advancement in biotechnology for probiotics, neutraceutical foods, herbal medicine, and pharmacogenomics is also expected to contribute to the growth of the functional foods industry.

NSTDA’s contributions, in partnership with other governmental and academic institutions, include cracking the code of jasmine rice genes; drought, flood and salinity-resistant rice varieties; smart greenhouse; smart farming; new environmentally-friendly chemicals for processing of liquid latex; and seed improvement technology, and help to boost productivity in the agriculture sector. Some of these technologies have been transferred to the rural agricultural communities for their self-reliance. Others are prototyped products that are made affordable and/or accessible to farmers. Some have been licensed, transferred, and made ready for commercialization.

Dealing with Climate Change

As a net importer of hydrocarbons with the gap between demand and supply expected to grow in the future, for the past decade Thailand has advocated energy conservation and initiated programs to develop renewable sources of energy. Biofuels have been increasingly appraised as alternative sources of energy, opening new income opportunity for farmers.

By encouraging the development and investment in biofuels, research on this front is being pursued at NSTDA—from the plantation to production and to quality assurance. NSTDA carefully chooses to investigate oil palm and jatropha as the second generation energy feed stocks. The breeding technology gives higher yield to these crops and makes them more adaptable to different soil surfaces.

Solar energy research is another area promoted by NSTDA. R&D focus is placed on thin-film technology of amorphous silicon, microcrystalline silicon, and dye-sensitized organic solar cells. Emphasis is given to the scale up from laboratory to an industrial scaled prototype. Fast progress has been made in Thailand for its switching to cleaner energy resources, and several active international research collaborations on advanced clean energy technologies are being pursued. “Thailand’s commitment to the mitigation of climate change will not only reduce the country’s carbon emissions but will also contribute to the promotion of Green Energy in the region,” remarked Dr. Bhumiratana.

Thailand’s Hub of Science, Technology and Innovation

Bridging the gap between research and the marketplace, through alliances with universities, industry, and government, NSTDA engages with the private sector through joint R&D, knowledge and technology transfer, and S&T related services in an effort to stimulate the growth of knowledge-based businesses. In “Thailand Science Park”, research tenants have access to NSTDA’s scientists and the most advanced R&D infrastructure including laboratories and equipment, pilot plants, and testing units of NSTDA’s four National Centers.

Today, Thailand Science Park houses NSTDA, BIOTEC, NECTEC, MTEC, NANOTEC, TMC and 60 private companies, whose economic impact is worth US$ 100 million, while employing a skilled workforce of over 500 (60 percent of whom are directly involved in R&D).

To meet the rapidly growing demands, NSTDA has started construction of Thailand Science Park, Phase II, which will be called Innovation Cluster II (or INC II). This new phase is expected to be fully operational by 2011. By encouraging closer interactions within the research community, Thailand Science Park will accelerate the establishment of knowledge-based enterprises, create new markets, and drive economic growth forward through cooperation between the public and private sectors.

About NSTDA

NSTDA helps Thailand prosper in the global economy by enabling the industry, agriculture, and services sectors to do things better through superior capabilities utilizing science and technology. Research contributions and capability building are accomplished by promoting and pooling our strengths together through four National Research Centers: BIOTEC, MTEC, NECTEC, and NANOTEC, and one Technology Management Center: TMC. Close collaboration with other government agencies, universities, and the private sector leads to valuable strategic partnerships and innovation alliances NSTDA and its Centers are operated by more than 2,500 scientists, researchers, and support staffs. The goal is to accelerate and streamline the transition from research to a marketable product.

NSTDA has four affiliate National Centers and one Center dedicated to Technology Management. All are focused on building Thailand’s S&T capacity where research becomes the foundation for the country’s future. Key areas of research focus for these Centers are:
BIOTEC – Genomic Technology & Cell Factory Technology
MTEC – Design and Simulation for Materials and Manufacturing & Materials Design and Production
NANOTEC – Nanocoating, Nanoencapsulation, & Functional Nanostructures
NECTEC – Sensor Technology, Knowledge Engineering Technology, & Information Security Technology
TMC – Technology Transfer & Commercialization of Discoveries and Technologies

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