Bangkok forum highlights R&D role in tackling global challenges

Monday, Aug 19, 2013 18:39

by Thuy Anh

BANGKOK (Biz Hub) – Only science can provide solutions to ‘unprecedented' current and future challenges facing the world, and all stakeholders should accordingly step up research and development (R&D) work, experts said at a forum in Bangkok last week.

The call was seconded by Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, who said her government accords top priority to research and development, considering it a crucial factor in the nation's socio-economic development.

The Thai government pays close attention to R&D issues, helping addressing difficulties and providing seed money for projects, she said, urging businesses to further promote R&D work in science and technology, especially the hi-tech sector.

The PM was presiding over the "Thailand Innovation Forum: R&D to Commercialization" held by the SCG Group in Bangkok on August 15.

"This forum showcases a corporate effort as a major part to foster the country's R&D and sustainable competitive edge, which would benefit everyone that is involved in the work of supporting (business) operations and policy formation," she said.

The SCG Group is organizing the forum as a part of its activities to celebrate its 100th anniversary. The event attracted the country's leading science and technology establishments and resources including government officials, academics, private sector experts and independent researchers.

Feeding 9 million

Douglas Muzyka, senior vice president of chemical giant DuPont, said the world was facing unprecedented challenges.

By 2050, it would have a population of nine billion, which means demand for food will increase by 70 per cent and for energy by 53 per cent, which poses a very important sustainable development challenges that only science can address, he said.

SCG president and CEO, Kan Trakulhoon, said that the forum premieres the private sector's strong intention to practically support commercial research and development as well as to encourage and inspire local enterprises to further venture into the realm of commercial R&D.

"Throughout the past 100 years, SCG has always been conducting our businesses based on sustainable development with strong focuses on innovations and high value-added products and services. R&D work has been utilized as a key driving force to increase competitiveness of the country," he said.

"We then consider it very important that every stakeholder pays attention to cultivating new innovations in our country."

He suggested a model where the government makes it a national agenda to promote R&D culture in the country, while educational and research institutions adapt their existing projects to meet the global community's expectations.

SCG projects that its high value added (HVA) products account for at least 50 percent of its total sales revenue by 2015.

Over the next five years, it expects to strengthen its R&D team to 1,600 people.

Currently, Thailand's total R&D investment stands at 0.2 percent of the country's GDP. The government has a plan to increase it to 2 percent.

Trakulhoon said he expects this to further increase to three per cent, adding the money should be used to create tangible results.

"R&D work should be commercialized, which means the findings from laboratory can be developed, produced, created and transformed to products and services that serve real needs of consumers."

Innovation, sustainability

As another activity to commemorate its 100 years, the group has opened its biggest-ever exposition in Bangkok to introduce its latest environmentally friendly technologies.

"The World of Innovations and Sustainability," which will run until the end of August highlights the consistent development of innovative products and services to improve the quality of life, while ensuring environmental sustainability, said its CEO, who expects the products will set new living trends.

Highlights of the exposition include "home innovations for a sustainable future" presented by the group's Cement and Building Materials affiliate. These innovations focus on energy saving, ventilation an other features using natural resources.

Affiliates SCG Chemicals and SCG Paper are also displaying technologies that target a cleaner and safer lifestyle.

SCG, one of the leading conglomerates in the ASEAN region, has three core businesses – building materials, chemicals and paper – with 47,000 employees. – VNS

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