For years now, the term “startups” has been more than a buzzword; it’s been a cornerstone of national economic growth strategy. With legal frameworks and incentives in place, support for entrepreneurial ventures and diverse innovative startups has blossomed. Of particular note is the meteoric rise of unicorn companies like Flash Express, LINE MAN Wongnai, and the Ascend Group, garnering billions in funding.
Thailand’s landscape is a fertile ground for startups, strategically positioned to align with global investment trends. Its central regional location connects it to major markets such as ASEAN, China, and India, fostering cross-border connections.
Furthermore, the country boasts excellent infrastructure, an affordable cost of living, lifestyle appeal, and government backing – all factors propelling the emergence of new startups. Here are some captivating highlights:
Thailand’s Global Startup Ranking
The National Innovation Agency (Public Organization) (NIA) recently unveiled Thailand’s Global Startup Ecosystem Index for 2023, as determined by StartupBlink, a comprehensive startup ecosystem map and research center. Out of 100 countries and 1,000 cities assessed, Thailand ascended to 52nd place globally, a step up from the previous year.
Notably, Bangkok surged by 25 positions to secure the 74th spot among the top 1,000 cities with flourishing startup ecosystems. This rise positioned it above neighboring Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia, a formidable contender in the ASEAN region.
Additionally, Chiang Mai, Phuket, and Pattaya also made it into the top 1,000, with their remarkable performance in the transportation sector, clinching the 43rd global rank. This surge underscores Thailand’s growing startup ecosystem.
Supporting Non-Stop Growth with Industry Titans
An essential cornerstone for startups is capital, and Thailand boasts a plethora of major companies ready to serve as Corporate Venture Capital (CVC) providers. These entities focus on investing in startups with compelling technologies and innovations, augmenting the strategies and competitiveness of parent companies.
An exemplary case is SCB 10X, an avant-garde banking group adept at navigating the ever-changing innovation and technology landscape.
To spearhead the emergence of startups and propel them to unicorn status, AddVentures by SCG strives to become a leading VC in Thailand and Southeast Asia.
Their objective is to source innovation from global startups, enhancing SCG’s efficiency through innovation and new business development.
Additionally, Krungsri Finnovate, a trailblazer in supporting fintech startups and banking-related technology, seeks to foster numerous startups into becoming unicorns. The aim is to cultivate a sustainable economic ecosystem in Thailand and Southeast Asia.
The Technology and Innovation-Based Enterprise Development Fund (TED Fund) under the Ministry of Higher Education, Science, Research and Innovation (MHESI) further supports and encourages technology and innovation entrepreneurs, particularly new entrants.
It acts as a catalyst to increase research and innovation for commercial applications, thereby generating value for investment and fostering progressive economic growth.
Accelerated by Government Policy
Numerous government agencies are primed to bolster Thai startups, enabling them to thrive in both domestic and international markets. The National Innovation Agency (NIA) acts as a “Focal Conductor,” fostering a conducive innovation ecosystem through capital and knowledge promotion.
This entity bridges various public and private bodies to steer Thailand towards becoming an innovation-driven nation. Collaborations encompass agencies such as the Office of the Board of Investment (BOI), the Office of the Science Research and Innovation Board (TSRI), and the Digital Economy Promotion Agency (depa).
Emphasizing Thailand as an Investment Hub
Thailand steadfastly promotes its startup ecosystem through economic strategies and mega projects supporting innovation-driven growth and investment. These encompass the BCG Model, guiding the economy across three fronts: Bioeconomy, Circular Economy, and Green Economy.
These endeavors aim to enhance nature and environmental sustainability, spur economic growth, diminish social disparities, and bolster self-sufficiency. Industries receive focused attention, spanning innovation in existing sectors for short-to-medium term growth, as well as development in emerging industries driven by advanced technologies.
The Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) invests in infrastructure and modern industries across Chonburi, Rayong, and Chachoengsao, further supporting startup enterprises.
Thailand’s startup ecosystem continually flourishes, backed by a myriad of public and private sector players intent on enhancing infrastructure and fostering rapid growth.
With exceptional opportunities, favorable lifestyles, and geographic appeal, Thai and foreign investors alike have ample reasons to engage in the country’s dynamic startup scene.