SMEs in Northeast fall on 4.0 compass

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and startup firms in the Northeast are now a key engine for creating sustainable jobs and a potential driver for Thailand’s 4.0 policy.

Provinces in lower parts of the Northeast such as Ubon Ratchathani, Khon Kaen and Maha Sarakham have strong networks of SMEs and startup entrepreneurs supported by the Science Park Promotion Agency (SPA) of the Science and Technology Ministry.

Science and Technology Minister Suvit Maesincee said the SPA of Ubon Rachathani University has built up more than 100 entrepreneurs, with more than 230 jobs created.

Revenue in the Northeast circulated by the SPA in Ubon Rachathani reached 300 million baht.

“Thanks to the strong networking of affiliated universities in Ubon Ratchathani, Suranaree, Khon Kaen and Maha Sarakham, including Ratchabhat universities, the lower Northeast has one of the strongest SME and startup networks in Thailand,” said the minister.

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Since 2012, the ministry and SPA started promoting SMEs and startups by focusing on developing the region to be the strategic hub of entrepreneurs in the region.

“We have been accelerating and also incubating SMEs to grow and strengthen [their presence] on the international stage,” he said.

Mr. Suvit recently visited Ubon Ratchathani University to discuss what areas should be promoted as part of the Thailand 4.0 policy.

He said that smart farming of crickets appeared to be the most interesting sphere in that regard.

Smart cricket farming, which entails value-added products like high-protein goods, can attract interest from multinational firms, create jobs for locals and generating profits for the region, said Mr Suvit.

He said the university and SPA are providing knowledge for anyone who are interested in smart cricket farming, which is estimated to generate 2,000 to baht a month for locals.

But while the activity offers lots of benefits for agricultural startups in Ubon Ratchathani, more improvements are needed, said Mr Suvit.

Ubon Ratchathani University Science Park Office director Chawalit Thinvongpituk said that the university will expand the network to include Ubon Ratchathani Rajabhat University, Sisaket Rajabhat University and Surindra Rajabhat University to further aid entrepreneurs.

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Reference: Bangkok Post