World Economic Forum (WEF) announced in 2017 the economic competitiveness of the countries around the world and Thailand was placed on 32nd on the list filled up by a total of 137 contingents and the nation was ranked the third place among ASEAN community. The government’s attempt to turn Thailand into an innovative startup nation should be the reason that makes Thailand gain this good ranking. Innovation and technology have been incorporated into Thailand’s National and Economic Development Plan under Thailand 4.0 scheme, while innovative startups are reckonned as means for the nation competitiveness and the creating of added value to Thai products.
Prof. Dr. Supachai Pathumnakul, a KKU Vice President for Research and Technology Transfer, said KKU is one of the nine Thai universities that have all areas of research work which are beneficial for the creation of both social betterment and economic yield. The application of these research outcomes benefits Isaan region and Thailand as a whole.
“To really establish a startup business, the students need to be assured that starting up is achievable and that they are capable of owning one. KKU has provided good ecosystem to propagate the students’ strength on startup business. The students have been engaged in business planning and marketing research in form of competition and contests. The university has been subsidized by The Ministry of Sciences and Technology to support the startup activities and engage more students into the ring, making them feel that they are the ones who can do startup.”
KKU’s Science Park provide a mentoring to the KKU students, workers and teachers’ projects to train them for entrepreneurship and encourage to attend a national competition, Startup Thailand League. During the recent past, KKU has successfully backed for successful and the up and coming startups such as; Qual Insect and Justmine Plateform.
Mr. Watchapol Intapricha, an ex-civil engineering students and founder of Justmine Platform, said the Justmine Platform was an offspring of his interest in investing on Bitcoin. He found that the profit he made from Bitcoin was relatively small despite the fact that there was a way to reap more lucrative benefits. Accordingly, he developed an application to serve his need and that was how Justmine was created. The application is made simple for use, all the users have to do is to download the free application at Justmine.io. The surcharge of the winning investors accounts for 3 percent of the profits. After three months of operation, the application has about 300 users.
“I did not know how this would be possible until I attended a startup training offered by the Science Park. I was trained about different business models and encouraged to display my project at different exhibitions. And my project really took its shape after I had applied for and been approved a grant. What I have learnt from the training was that it is not always necessary to think of money first when starting up business. We need to solve other problems about ourselves, correct our product weak points then it can bring us money.”
Mr. Watcharapol Khamkhomkhet, a KKU microbiology student and founder of a startup business entitled, “Qual Insect”, said that he had wanted to make a quality cricket farm. Therefore, “qual” in his startup name is abbreviated from “quality”, reflecting his ambition to make this insect farm higher in quality and production capacity. In the past, too hot weather was a main drawback for commercial cricket farming. The new system helps ensure larger volume of cricket production via a temperature control system. This startup business was supported academically and monetarily by KKU Science Park.
“Actually, to really starting up some business is not really scary. What we need to have is determination and one needs to learn that negative thinking, reckoning things as impossible, is a potential holding back that must first be deleted. I was interested in doing a startup about insects while I was rather blank about it. Then I consulted my professor and found out that the university has all the facilities that I would need to learn about insect farming. Then everything was left entirely up to me whether I would take it turn my back to it. My thought at that time was as a student, it was a time to learn new thing. Even though I failed, I still had more time to correct myself after the university.”
Science Park in conjunction with other private and public sectors is a mentor for the cultivating of new entrepreneurs by providing them supports on innovation and business planning which should help cater for a betterment of the country social and economic strengths.
News Script : Jiraporn Pratoomchai
Photos: KKU’s Science Park