Krithpaka Boonfueng, Deputy Executive Director (Innovation System), National Innovation Agency, Thailand

By Yun Xuan Poon

Women in GovTech Special Report 2019.

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

I work on many public sector campaigns such as Startup Thailand, Innovation Thailand, Innovation Diplomacy, and Job for the Future. The role of National Innovation Agency (NIA) is to promote and support the national innovation system in a comprehensive manner to respond to the context of future innovation in the world that has a direct impact on Thailand.

My duty is not only to develop innovative entrepreneurs and innovation driven enterprises, but also to support the market innovation and national innovation identities via Startup Nation, Job for the Future, and Innovation Thailand campaigns.

What has been the most exciting thing that you worked on in 2019?

Under the theme “Startup Nation”, Startup Thailand 2019 is the most exciting project. We set the goal to becoming a startup nation by increasing the number of startups and corporate venture capital firms.

Startup Thailand 2019 is Southeast Asia’s biggest tech conference. It brings together the hottest Thai startups, along with entrepreneurs, speaker and investors from around the world to exchange ideas and experiences. Startup Thailand 2019 has a mission to host the Southeast Asia Startup Assembly (SEASA) in which government leaders from ASEAN nations will gather to discuss and declare the cooperation to develop the startup ecosystem in ASEAN.

What is the best thing you have experienced in your career?

I realised that the ecosystem needs time and trust to develop via NIA’s network. In three years, the startup ecosystem has been built and Bangkok’s startup ecosystem is quickly becoming a leader in Southeast Asia. Currently, there are 1,700 startups registered in the system.

If you were to share one piece of advice that you learned in 2019, what would it be?

My background is in being an intellectual property specialist. I realised that the local startups focus on developing ideas and finding investors and market, but they often forget about how to protect their ideas and innovations. I want to encourage Thai startups to be aware and acknowledge the importance of intellectual property. NIA works closely with the Department of Intellectual Property to run workshops to educate and assist startups in the area of intellectual property protection and commercialisation.

What tool or technique particularly interests you for 2020?

In 2020, I believe that Artificial intelligence (AI) will increasingly become an important component to both company strategy and government policy. AI can be applied to various types of businesses and industries, and it can be used not only in business sector, but also in the government sector worldwide. Under the Thailand 4.0 policy, which mainly focuses on using innovation to drive the country’s economy through 10 targeted industries, AI is an industry that the government would like to promote, and is necessary for national development.

What are your priorities for 2020?

My priority for 2020 is to promote regional innovation throughout Thailand. To create new value of innovation, we need to prepare and upgrade the potential for innovation for the future at the individual, organisation and country levels - through awareness building, knowledge and innovative tools. These elements would raise the level of innovation ability to compete on the global stage, reduce inequality on social innovation and inspire youth, polytechnique education, higher education, entrepreneurship, start-up and various areas of innovation.

What is one challenge you would like to take on in 2020?

NIA continues to develop innovations with Thailand's 4.0 strategy and aims to push Thailand into the "Innovation Nation". We aim to create opportunities and differences to create the high value products and services in the ecosystem.
Under the Quintuple Helix, we try to strengthen the national innovation system through linking the private sector, government, education and civil society including accelerating the development of innovative entrepreneurs to create a strong innovation system. All operations have set a goal for Thailand to be among the top 30 countries in the world with excellent innovation by 2030.

What has been your fondest memory from the past year?

My fondest memory is to attend South by Southwest, an annual conglomerate of film, interactive media, and music festivals and conferences that takes place in Austin, Texas, United States. In the entirety of its 33-year history, South by Southwest 2019 had the greatest economic impact on businesses and residents in Austin, bringing $355.9 million of revenue into the Austin economy.