Officials Urge Progress On Law To Boost Science, Innovation In Thailand15/09/2008 by Sinfah Tunsarawuth for Intellectual Property Watch Leave a CommentShare this Story:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Google+ (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)IP-Watch is a non-profit independent news service, and depends on subscriptions. To access all of our content, please subscribe now. You may also offer additional support with your subscription, or donate.By Sinfah Tunsarawuth for Intellectual Property Watch BANGKOK – Recently enacted legislation establishing a national plan on science, technology and innovation is expected to boost Thailand’s competitiveness in science and technology, according to government officials. But it needs a renewed commitment and a budget, they told a conference here.“We shall see more scientific research and innovation in the country now that we have this new law and a national plan,” Chaivat Toskulkao, deputy permanent secretary of Ministry of Science and Technology, told Intellectual Property Watch on the sidelines of a government-sponsored exhibition and convention in Bangkok known as Thailand Research Expo 2008.However, the National Science, Technology and Innovation Act, A.D. 2008, which came into force on 14 February, failed to commit the government on budget allocation for scientific research, government officials said on the first day of the 12-16 September convention.Sakarindr Bhumiratana, president of National Science and Technology Development Agency (NSTDA), told a panel on the new law that during the drafting process, it was proposed that the government earmark 3 percent of its annual budget for research and development. But he said the budgeting procedures did not allow any government agency to commit any portion of the government’s budget.He said currently Thailand spends about 0.25-0.27 percent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) on research and development, compared to about 3 percent in Singapore. He said the target was to have the government spend about 1 percent of the GDP.On the private sector side, Sakarindr said about two million companies are registered in Thailand, but less than 1,000 of them are involved in any kind of research.Papers presented at the panel discussion showed that in 2008 Thailand’s competitiveness in scientific infrastructure ranks behind Malaysia and well behind Singapore.Chaivat said the new law requires the government to set up a national board on science, technology and innovation policy chaired by the prime minister, with the science and technology minister as the vice chair. This board is required under the law to draw up national policy and plan on science, technology and innovation for approval by the cabinet.“This top-level board with the prime minister as the chairperson will help driving for any decision making on the matter,” Chaivat said at his presentation at the convention.He said the national plan has not been drawn up yet as the board still awaits the appointment of its secretary general, who needs to be approved by the cabinet. The secretary general is the key person in the functioning of this new board and in a new office set up as the board’s secretariat, he said.The new law specifically requires that development of science, technology and innovation in the country must include training of more scientists, supporting scientists to file for intellectual property protection domestically and overseas, applying government’s fiscal and procurement measures in expanding markets for goods or services produced out of Thai technology and innovation, and promoting major investment projects as the base for technological development.Producing more scientists and researchers was discussed at great length at the panel. Panelists said currently the government provides no incentive for either the public or private sector in doing research that will lead to creating innovation.Sakarindr of NSTDA said for instance the shrimp industry, one of the country’s largest industries, generated an income of about 100 billion baht (US$2.9 billion) a year but less than 100 million baht ($2.9 million), or 0.1 percent, was spent on research for the industry.Sakarindr, whose agency is a key scientific research institute, said researchers with a doctorate degree at his agency receive a starting monthly salary of 34,300 baht (about $1,000), which is much lower than the amount earned by a physician or an engineer.Panelists said in agreement that Thai high-school students did not choose to study science in universities, and the best performers typically want to be a medical doctor or engineer rather than a research scientist.Sakarindr said there should be a system where the government recruited high-achievement students or professionals and “paid” them to study to become a scientist.Under the new law, a new “high-level” science and technology institute would be created under the office of the national board to coordinate between domestic research and education institutes with those overseas in research and development and promote the education of more scientists in the country. Sinfah Tunsarawuth may be reached at email@example.com.Share this Story:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Google+ (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Related"Officials Urge Progress On Law To Boost Science, Innovation In Thailand" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.