Thailand has become one of the world’s largest food producers and exporters. The country aims to develop itself as “Kitchen to the World” and a global food innovation hub.
Toward this aim, the Government has established “Food Innopolis” to support research and development and innovation for the food industry, under the Thailand 4.0 theme. The Cabinet on 16 May 2016 assigned the Ministry of Science and Technology to serve as a core agency in operating the Food Innopolis project.
Later, on 27 May 2016, 35 organizations (9 government agencies, 13 private companies, 12 universities, and 1 association) signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on cooperation in developing Food Innopolis. The Thailand Food Innopolis is located at the Thailand Science Park in Khlong Luang district, Pathum Thani province, north of Bangkok. It is fully equipped with qualified personnel and facilities to support food producers of all scales, be it local, regional, or global.
The project forms part of the Government’s “Super Cluster” policy to develop the processing of agricultural products to give them high “value added.” It ranges from production on the farm to processing and marketing and focuses on healthy and functional food, high value-added food products, and support for food innovation. Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha said that the Government has a policy to build innovation cities that are linked with First and New S-Curve industries, beginning with Food Innopolis.
Emphasis is placed on high-value and high-profit foods, such as geriatric nutrition, patient nutrition, and halal food. In this regard, Food Innopolis will support investment by world-class food producers that have a link on the innovation chain to SMEs, as well as food-based startups. The Deputy Secretary-General of the National Science Technology and Innovation Policy Office, Akkharawit Kanjana-Opas, said that a budget of three billion baht had been set for the first five years of the project. At least 100 foreign companies would be attracted to invest in the project during the period. Mr. Akkharawit, who is head of the Food Innopolis project, said that the project would link with the Chao Phraya Abhaibhubejhr Hospital in Prachin Buri province, for the development of herbal food innovation, as well.
A One-Stop Service Center has been established at the Thailand Food Innopolis, which will be developed as the first in ASEAN. Privileges and incentives are also offered to investors in this project. According to Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak, from May 2016 to March 2017, about 10 private companies entered Food Innopolis for their business operations. It is expected that the project will bring about new investment projects, worth 1.5 billion baht a year, and generate three billion baht in income for the area.
He stressed the need for serious promotion of the Thailand Food Innopolis, which has great potential for the expansion of the Thai food industry.