Dr Krithpaka Boonfueng, Deputy Executive Director, National Innovation Agency, Thailand

By Yun Xuan Poon

Women in GovTech Special Report 2021.

Dr Krithpaka Boonfueng is also Board Member of Government Housing Bank, Thailand.

How do you use technology/policy to improve citizens’ lives? Tell us about your role or organisation.

I am responsible for supporting and facilitating innovation and entrepreneurship development and capability in Thailand. Our strategic mission aims to support and develop Thailand’s innovation system, in terms of promoting economic restructuring and competitive enhancement. From the day one to present, National Innovation Agency (NIA) has been recognised as a leading innovative agency that is responsible for being a global startup hub, and finally became a gateway for the startup ecosystem, which is in line with the Thailand 4.0 policy operated by The Royal Thai Government.

As announced by the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO), Thailand is ranked number 43 in the Global Innovation Index 2020. Thailand’s pathway of innovation development is a good illustration for national innovation development. Moreover, Thailand has established a strong IP legal framework that will provide a healthy ground for innovation to flourish.

As Board Member of Government Housing Bank (GHB), we have a vision to be the best Housing Bank by implementing digital technologies to enhance the performance and services to customers. I also lead the digital transformation policy for driving GHB to be a digital banking and innovative organisation.

What was the most impactful project you worked on this year?

Being an innovation community, the strengthening of the startup ecosystem is the priority. The nature of startup businesses is complex and diverse. I believed that each country could not stand alone to manage the evolution of startup ecosystems by itself. That is why, bilateral or multilateral partnership platforms are arising to nurture and accelerate the successes of working together. Through this initiative, we create a pan regional collaboration to allow market access to Thailand and enhance the startup Thailand ecosystem.

What is one unexpected learning from 2021?

Before the Covid-19 pandemic, I spent most of my time working and travelling for business trips both domestic and international. During the Covid-19 lockdown, I was absolutely working from home for almost 3 months without going out. I live with my parents and it is common in many Thai families for several generations to live together. At first, it was tough for me to stay at home with several digital meetings per day. Without going out for business meetings and dinner, I lost almost 10 kilograms and made my body feel good. Later, I realised that my family is my life, and my health is the most important; everything else comes second. Finally, I learned how to find balance in life.

What’s your favourite memory from the past year?

Thailand INNO BIZ Champion is the answer. We have been working on this project with my team for almost two years and travelling around Thailand to find the best top five of innovation based enterprises in each region. We set up the most innovative and business accelerator program. At the end, 20 firms have to pitch and present their improvement in front of the judges. Recognised as the first edutainment and reality show, everything was recorded and will be run on the national TV program. The first episode is already on air on 23 November, 2021. Once I watched the first episode all the good memories came to my mind. I believe this Reality will inspire many enterprises to change their business with innovation.

What’s a tool or technique you’re excited to explore in 2022?

Metaverse is one of the disruptive technologies for the future of digital businesses to merge between the digital and physical lives in every aspect of your life. I believe a virtual world not only will create many opportunities for business but also will change the way of social engagement.

What are your priorities for 2022?

Related to digital technology, ARI Innovation District Project focuses on the development of in-depth technologies in the field of ARI Tech, including Artificial Intelligence (AI), Development of Robotics, Tech Virtual reality technology (Immersive) and Internet connection or data transmission (IoTs). It is another innovation district driven by the private sector that recognises the importance of “innovation”, which is a good trend. It operates under the vision "Ari 2025, step into a smart city that can meet the lifestyle of the new era".

Who are the mentors and heroes that inspire you?

My parents are the first and the best mentors and heroes. I am so lucky to be their daughter. My mother taught me to live my life with discipline and how to do business and I learned how to be strong and survive in the real world from my father.

What gets you up in the morning?

The opportunity to learn something new is what gets me up in the morning. Life is full of surprises and challenges. Today is not yesterday and I do not know what will happen but I will live, learn and enjoy every moment of my life.