On January 25, 2023, the Program Management Unit for Competitiveness (PMUC), led by Assoc. Prof. Wannarat Santiamornthat, Ph.D., chairperson of the Digital Platform Subcommittee, PMUC, organized a “Workshop to create a roadmap for innovative research and development for digital technology for the future to strengthen the competitiveness of the country”. Invited to the event were researchers from research universities and the private sector to participate in brainstorming of roadmap design, as well as determining research and development topics that are consistent with the roadmap. The goal was to prepare a plan to support research and innovation funding for Digital Technology for the Future. The event took place at Pullman Hotel, King Power (Rang Nam), Bangkok on January 25, 2023, with Assoc. Prof. Pongpan Kaewtathip, Ph.D., deputy director of TSRI, giving the opening speech with interest from university researchers and many from the private sector attending the event.
Assoc. Prof. Dr. Siree mentioned about the mission of PMUC, saying that “PMUC received a policy from the NXPO and TSRI to support research funding with the main goal to enhance the country’s economy in line with the national science, research and innovation plan (CCP) 2023-2027, specifically strategy 1 on national economic development based on value creation and creative economy to enhance the country’s ability to compete by using science, research and innovation. To that end, the PMUC will focus on providing research funding to promote collaboration between researchers from the public sector and entrepreneurs in the private sector both domestically and internationally in developing entrepreneurs to have the ability to compete internationally, ultimately helping Thailand to move out of the middle-income trap.”
On the other hand, Asst. Prof. Dr. Wannarat mentioned about, “the CCP work plan, and the direction of the digital technology development in the new world ” that the government plans to apply digital technology, including artificial intelligence, smart electronics, as well as robotics and automation to enhance productivity, service and self-reliance with the aim of enabling Thailand to develop digital technology with international potential and meet the needs of target industries especially industries like medical, agricultural, food, electric vehicles and autonomous vehicles. The applications also extend to the use of technology in government services and elevating the education sector in Thailand by leveraging research results, knowledge, technology and innovation.
For the opportunity to compete in the domestic digital market, the growth forecast of the digital industry in 2022-2024 is divided into 4 categories: 1) Software 2) Hardware and Smart Devices 3) Digital Services 4) Big Data, which is expected to grow 11.9%, 7.2%, 23.5% and 13.8% respectively in 2024.
In this regard, Assoc. Prof. Natdanai Harnkarasutjarit, Ph.D., head of High-value Food Program Coordination Office participated in the lecture titled “Direction of the development of future food research”, pointing out that the hot trends in the high-value food industry now consist of 1) healthy food groups such as milk/vitamin drinks, 2) alternative foods such as plant-based food, using more natural substances instead of artificial substances, 3) food produced with environmentally friendly processes such as labeling that shows the carbon footprint of packaging, biodegradable packaging, including reduced energy consumption in food production. And the use of industrial byproducts to produce food packaging, which has already been in practice in other countries, and 4) Lab-grown Meat. He also suggested that digital technology be used in the food industry, such as the use of AI as a tool to help assess and predict the quality of food, in detection of contaminants, prediction of recipes and smell and flavor enhancing ingredients, reduction of carbon and calories in food production and food design for hospital patients, etc.
In addition, PMUC has invited external experts from the private sector such as Mr. Changnoi, Kunchorn Na Ayuthaya and Mr. Songklod Bangyikhan, co-Founders of Cloud and Ground Co., Ltd., Dr. Panachit Kittipanya-ngam, CEO and co-founder of ZTRUS, to join the discussion on the topic “Vision of future creative industry” and “Introduction of tools and preparation guidelines for technology/IP landscape” as well as the the creative economy related issues were discussed. There were also suggestions on ways to use digital technology to help in the country’s creative economy, such as developing AI to learn the taste preference of individual tourists, and to help predict/recommend tourist attractions, accommodation, and restaurants in Thailand that are similar and more compatible with the lifestyles of each traveler. This should help to encourage people to want to go out and spend time outside in the post-COVID-19 era, and to promote more tourism in the country.
For afternoon activities, it was an opportunity for participants to brainstorm ideas, allowing the private sector to share experiences, problems and pain points with researchers, who specialize in digital technology, serving as a guideline for formulating research questions, as well as allowing researchers to develop research to meet the needs of the private sector exactly. The insights gained from this workshop will be summarized and formulated into a R&D funding plan that is consistent with the roadmap.