Prior to 2019, there were four agencies – the National Research Council of Thailand (NRCT), the National Innovation Agency (NIA), the Agricultural Research Development Agency (ARDA) and the Health Systems Research Institute (HSRI) – responsible for administering public research fund in Thailand. Each agency already had specific funding scope which collectively was insufficient to fulfil overarching areas required to transform Thailand into an innovation-based economy. As part of the higher education, science, research and innovation system reform, the National Higher Education, Science, Research and Innovation Policy Council (Policy Council) decided to establish three new program management units (PMUs) as independent funding bodies operating under the legal framework of the Office of National Higher Education Science Research and Innovation Policy Council (NXPO) with the goal to spin off as independent organization(s) within three years.
The three new bodies are aimed at addressing three distinct missions: manpower development, competitiveness improvement, and area-based development and grassroots economy. These three PMUs are (1) Program Management Unit for Area-based Development (PMU-A); (2) Program Management Unit for Human Resources & Institutional Development, Research and Innovation (PMU-B); and (3) Program Management Unit for Competitiveness Enhancement (PMU-C).
PMU-C is a research funding unit that manages research and innovation fund aimed at enhancing the national competitiveness by creating innovations that enable industries to develop high-value goods and services to enter the global market, facilitating collaboration between the public and private sectors in Thailand and from abroad, and encouraging joint investment from firms, ranging from SMEs to large corporates. The seven industrial sectors of focus are:
Functional ingredient and High Valued Agricultural Products and Health Foods
Health and Medicine
Bioenergy, Biochemical and Biomaterials
BCG for Creative Tourism
Circular Economy of Thailand
Future Mobility, Robotics and Automation
In addition, PMU-C also promotes industrial competitiveness through the following five enabling programs: