“SPACE-F” to expedite FoodTech startups

National Innovation Agency (NIA) in collaboration with Thai Union Group Plc. and Faculty of Science of Mahidol University creating “SPACE-F”, the FoodTech Incubator and Accelerator Program to strengthen the 500 billion baht food innovation industry.

Pun-arj Chairatana, the director of National Innovation Agency (Public Organization) said SPACE-F is the world’s first program in FoodTech Incubator and Accelerator Program aiming to create deep tech startups in food industry for the country. The food industry has generated over 500 billion baht of revenue to the country, but there is not any startups working in this sector with high precision innovation. Founders of the SPACE-F comprise of NIA as the central body connecting innovation system of the country, private sector who is a food exporter with marketing know-how, and education sector with research and development.

The SPACE-F focuses on nine sectors including health & wellness, alternative proteins, smart manufacturing, packaging solutions, novel food & ingredients, biomaterials & chemicals, restaurant tech, food safety & quality as well as smart food services.

NIA expects that SPACE-F would help increasing no less than 60 FoodTech startups in Thailand within 3 years, reinforcing the image of being a “world kitchen”, as well as maintaining the capacity of the food industry.

Vichian Suksoi, NIA deputy director said it is now recruiting the program manager and the program is expected to start in May by which the Acceleration Program is open for startups who already have products in local and overseas. It is expected that 12 startup teams will be selected in three months, while the Incubation Program is open for Thai universities only. Those startups who join the program will receive seed and Series A fund, at no more than US$ 10 million per each.

Thiraphong Chansiri, Chief Executive Officer of Thai Union Group (TU), said innovation is significant tools to differentiate the business and increase gross profit from existing 14-15% to be 25%. The participation in this program enables the company to access interesting startups and it will do in form of investment or technology license for export and diversification, apart from sea food. TU has prepared some 50 million for three-year support of the SPACE-F alongside the R&D budget of 400-600 million baht a year. 

Sittiwat Lertsiri, the Dean of the Faculty of Science, Mahidol University said that “all Tech-based startups were the innovations that originated from researches and this concept was becoming familiar to young entrepreneurs. Since the ecosystem from advanced science and technology educational institutions was indispensable to order to support innovation from research, the Faculty of Science of Mahidol University became the co-founder of SPACE-F to support innovation for FoodTech startup, and to develop graduates who were interested in becoming entrepreneurs in the future. The Faculty of Science hoped that the cooperation of all three parties would increase the success rate of these startups, and it would affect the economy at country and global levels.”

SPACE-F is located in central Bangkok and it is also in Yothi Medical Innovation District, under the facility of over 1,000 square meters at the Faculty of Science of Mahidol University.