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Innovation race




SCG is innovating in the field of green construction by using drones to survey construction sites and improve project design. Photo SCG

Middle-income countries in Asia have undergone major economic changes and dramatic growth over the last decade. Still, many still lack the ability to generate the innovations that are essential to driving productivity, economic development and sustainability. All of these are important for future prosperity.

Several factors are hampering innovation in the region, and the impact of the prolonged outbreak of Covid-19 exacerbates the challenge, according to a new World Bank report entitled “Innovations Essential to East Asian Development.” I am.

These factors include inadequate information about new technologies, uncertainties about the profitability of innovation projects, weak business capabilities, inadequate staffing skills, and limited funding options.

Similarly, according to the report, innovation policies and institutions in many countries often do not match the actual needs of the private sector.

Victoria Kwakwa, Vice President of East Asia at the World Bank, said: And the Pacific Ocean.

Published in late February, the report examines the status of innovation in 10 middle-income countries: Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Mongolia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam.

Roongrote Rangsiyopash, President and Chief Executive Officer of Siam Cement Group, said: Included / SCG

Innovation shortfall

Asian countries, especially those in East Asia, have several prominent innovators, especially areas such as information and communication technology. However, the data shown in the report show that only China is above the line when comparing per capita global gross domestic product (GDP) rankings with spending on innovation.

Globally, the most developed countries, including China, spend 2-3% of their GDP on research and development. However, Thailand’s figure is 1%, below that level in many other developing countries in the region.

The report’s authors observe that most companies in developing countries operate far away from the “technical frontier.” As a result, the region lags behind developed countries in the breadth and intensity of new technology use.

“With the exception of some notable examples, the vast majority of companies developing East Asia are currently not innovating,” said Xavier Cirella, the lead author of the report.

“Therefore, we need a broad model of innovation, which helps large numbers of companies adopt new technologies while allowing more sophisticated companies to embark on cutting-edge projects.”

With slower productivity growth and uncertain world trade, technological advances have increased the need to move to new and better production modes in order to maintain economic performance, the report said. ..

Countries need to change policy direction to promote the spread of existing technologies, such as supporting innovation in the service sector and strengthening the innovation capacity of companies, as well as invention and manufacturing.

Andrew Mason, another lead author of the report, said:

More investment in workers’ skills, as well as new approaches to funding innovation projects, to build stronger links between national research institutes and drive the growth of innovation in the region Is required.

“Developing countries in East Asia are gradual transitioning from middle-income to high-income based on past economic success, so they need to find new and more effective ways to increase productivity growth. Yes, “the report suggests.

“Certainly, their high-income neighbors Japan, South Korea and Singapore have all used innovation as a means to improve efficiency and increase their income with great success.”

SCG Chemicals has opened Thailand’s first demonstration plant at Rayong’s petrochemical facility, preparing to provide post-consumption plastic management and renewable raw materials for upstream petrochemical plants. Photo © SCG Plc

Research push

A World Bank survey of researchers in Thailand, the Philippines, Malaysia, and Vietnam found that governments are improving their research capabilities, but the overall impact is not yet clear.

Professor Datuk Dr Asma Ismail, President of the Malaysian Academy of Sciences, said innovation needs to be instilled to increase the country’s productivity. Technology-based businesses must also be entitled to the local innovation ecosystem.

“We need to make a systematic change in Malaysia’s innovation environment. Science, technology and innovation (STI) are the way forward for productivity,” she said in an online report.

Malaysia implemented the 2021-30 National STI Policy to ensure that it will become a high-tech nation by 2030. This includes a national economic framework based on strategic initiatives to create technology-based industries.

However, the gap between public sector technology development and industry adoption needs to be narrowed. To achieve this goal, the Technology Innovation Accelerator was established, as well as two institutions that have been shown to generate social and economic impacts: Innovate UK and * Star Singapore.

Integrating innovation into education, especially higher education, will help move the plan forward, Professor Ismail said.

“Collaboration between policy makers, science and innovation scholars, and technology-based industries will help countries succeed in linking STI to socio-economic development,” she added.

Professor Ismail said Malaysia’s innovation rankings jumped from 130th out of 137 countries in 2018 to 64th in 2019, and continued action is paying off.

To ensure success, policy makers need to invest extensively in promoting innovation in areas such as energy, financial services, culture, arts and tourism. Smart technology, engineering, manufacturing. Smart cities and transportation. Water and food, agriculture and forestry, education and environment, and biodiversity. Everyone has the potential to create STI-focused businesses that help drive socio-economic development.

In Vietnam, the government and business community are fully aware of the importance of innovation and have embarked on a number of strategic research initiatives that will lead to positive results, said Nguyen Duk, head of the Prime Minister’s advisory group.・ Kien says.

One of the challenges facing the country is to balance labor-intensive production with the demands of the green economy. Lack of high skills and technology has limited Vietnam’s opportunity to accelerate its push to reach the goals of the green economy.

We need to transform the structure of economic development, starting with comprehensive educational reforms to develop the skills needed in modern society. This is time consuming and requires a huge amount of resources. Kien said infrastructure and capital markets also need to be developed to support businesses.

He added that the policy recommendations provided in the World Bank report are valid and that Vietnam must consider which areas need to be prioritized. Ultimately, we aim to become a high-tech nation in the next decade, similar to the goals set by Malaysia.

Paco Sandehas, managing partner of Nara Venture Capital in the Philippines, said data and comparisons from the World Bank report would give development agencies ammunition to make policy makers and business leaders act alike. He said there is an urgent need for further training in business and technology, entrepreneurship and innovation at all levels, not only in educational institutions, but also in businesses and national institutions.

Roongrote Rangsiyopash, President and CEO of SCG, Thailand’s largest industrial conglomerate, agreed that the Thai government should read this report.

The findings clearly reflect the fact that policies related to integrating innovation in all aspects of the economy are still inadequate in many countries, including Thailand, he told Asia Focus. ..

Thailand has a 20-year national strategic plan from 2018 to 37, a policy of Thailand 4.0, and a national development plan for science, technology and innovation from 2012 to 21. Has made little progress.

Policy implementation has not yet been clearly focused, especially in the health and wellness and tourism sectors, which are considered to be the country’s true strengths. “Implementing policy is just the beginning. It is important and should be the focus to drive innovation policy into action,” Roongrote said.

In fact, he said, there are quite a few large companies in the country that prioritize product innovation. However, service innovation is still off the radar. Like other major countries, tourism in Thailand needs to adopt innovations that help add value to the country’s strengths, in line with the recommendations of the report, he said.

As one of the few Thai companies operating for over a century, SCG recently announced its mission to accelerate technology growth by applying innovation and big data to create new business opportunities. The company aims to invest THB 7-8 billion in 2021 to develop manufacturing and customer service innovations to meet the changing consumer demand highlighted by the Covid crisis.

Following the circular economy roadmap, the conglomerate also emphasizes open innovation and external collaboration for long-term growth. The company is working with the Chinese Academy of Sciences to establish and sustainably establish an SCG-CAS innovation hub focused on artificial intelligence, smart cities, high-value chemicals, renewable energy and environmentally friendly practices throughout the value chain. We support the promotion of various developments.

SCG-Oxford Chemistry Center of Excellence and SCG Institute for Advanced Materials have also been established in Begbroke Science Park, England. Meanwhile, the investment in the Norner Group will help SCG bring new polymer innovations and technologies from Europe and develop its core business.

Add Ventures, SCG’s corporate venture capital unit, is also accelerating investment in potential start-ups in Southeast Asia, China and India to explore new business opportunities. The purpose is to strengthen SCG as an innovative and resilient organization.

AddVentures continues to expand its investment portfolio with a focus on industry, enterprise and business-to-business (B2B) opportunities. SCG has a network of clients and partners who can work together to create new business opportunities, looking for new business models and other ways to expand in Southeast Asia.

“Government as a policymaker is likely to accelerate innovation and exchange cooperation to strengthen the commercialization and competitiveness of the country and the Asian region in the long run, so it will implement solutions and local businesses and We can provide a platform that enables businesses, “Roongrote said.

Main issues

Developing East Asian countries are called upon to innovate their way to the next level, but face the following hurdles in the process:

-Climate change is becoming more difficult

-Covid-19 has a negative impact on employment, human capital and investment as well as health, has a long-term impact on growth and slows progress in poverty reduction.

-Increasing uncertainty about export sustainability based on labor-intensive manufacturing

-Reduced productivity growth has been a problem since the global financial crisis more than 10 years ago

-Developing countries are in urgent need of new approaches to promote innovative and environmentally friendly products and services that can effectively generate income, such as in innovation-oriented South Korea and Singapore.

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