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Agency urges enterprises to move towards innovation

It started with helping the private sector to create product innovation, and after three years of operation, the National Innovation Agency (NIA) under the Science Ministry plans to move towards the development of what it calls enterprise innovation.

Published on July 31, 2007

Agency urges enterprises to move towards innovation

The agency hopes to encourage private companies to step up from only innovation on products to enterprise innovation by pushing them to develop their own commercial brands. It expects to have around 20 companies coming up with enterprise innovation in the next two years.

During the past three years, NIA has provided Bt241 million to support 222 innovation projects, and this has created around Bt6.1 billion of investment in the country.

According to the agency's director Supachai Lorlowhakarn, providing funding support to private companies to create innovation is just the first step. Next, the agency will encourage them to look more to business and investment and push potential innovative projects into commercial use.

As offering only funding is not enough to boost innovation in business, he said the agency would provide a consultancy service to help private companies develop business models by using research and innovation as a backup for their ordinary businesses.

"We believe that innovation should go together with a good business model, so to make the development of innovations successful, we have to do both," he said.

NIA plans to expand its role from just providing funding support to overseeing investment aspects as well.

Supachai said developing enterprise innovation not only included product innovation models but also business models, investment models, operational models and profit models. Therefore it is necessary to put more focus on business and investment aspects so that each innovative project can attract investors or venture capitalists, and this will move innovation development from the product level to the enterprise level, he said.

He said the agency had set two steps to help private companies move from product innovation to enterprise innovation.

The first step is intellectual property capitalisation. Supachai said the agency would encourage companies to register patents. In some cases the agency will take care of patent registration for the innovation as the agency's property by paying companies for the rights. When the companies get stronger in terms of income, they can come back to redeem their right.

The second step is to attract more venture capitalists to invest in innovative projects. Supachai said having investors would help companies which had innovations to expand business, marketing, production and profits.

The agency plans to encourage local companies to not only continue with innovations but also keep business and entrepreneurship in mind while opening for more investment from outside, he said.

He added that all the plans were expected to push the country's innovation development to commercial applications. The plans have also been developed to serve the transformation of NIA to a new public organisation in the next several months.

To continue with innovation development, NIA has also adjusted its strategy and foresees that innovation related to biotechnology and the environment will be a key area in the next two years. Innovations in this area include, for example, the development of biomass, bio-materials including degradable plastic, bio-energy as well as green and clean technology.

Pongpen Sutharoj

The Nation

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