Digital Ventures

Back to blog

How Thailand 4.0 Can Compete with the Global Economy in the Deep Tech Era: Perspectives from Orapong Thien-Ngern, CEO of Digital Ventures

DIGITAL VENTURES April 17, 2018 9:07 AM


Thailand is moving forward with the Thailand 4.0 policy. This is part of the plan that will drive the country and prepare for the fast-changing competition in the world’s economy. As we observe further, we discover that there are several aspects wherein Thailand requires improvement in order to speed up and acquire digital competitiveness. This is especially true in terms of Deep Tech development which are among the accelerators for competition in the past several years.

Taking the country’s Deep Tech to match the world’s pace is a significant factor behind U.REKA, launch by Digital Ventures in early April this year. Here are interesting data which Digital Venture’s CEO, Orapong Thien-Ngern shared at the recent press conference.


Thailand 4.0 and global digital economy development

Despite initiatives of the Thailand 4.0 policy, Thailand’s overall competitiveness is quite worrisome in terms of catching up with the global change due to the leaping development in the past 2-3 years. It is estimated that the development of the digital economy around the world with cause greater effects when compared to the industrial revolution. For instance, Forbes reported that the value of the digital economy in China is increasing and surpassing that of the traditional economy. It amounts to 30% of the country’s GDP only with its basic technologies. Moreover, education and development in Deep Tech will play a greater role in the near future as well as enhance development by technology to double its capabilities. It is believed that technology will disrupt other industries and further expand its portion in the economic system.


The digital competition is measured by 3 aspects, “knowledge, technology, and future readiness”. So, where does Thailand stand?


Let’s take a look at Thailand’s digital competitiveness. Orapong shared information from IMD’s World Digital Competitiveness. The data was collected from over 60 countries around the world, including Thailand.

Referring to IMD’s evaluation for digital competitiveness, there are 3 main and 3 minor factors as follow.

  1. Knowledge consists of:
  • Talent
  • Investment in training and education
  • Scientific concentration
  1. Technology Environment consists of:
  • Supportive regulatory framework
  • Capital
  • Technological framework
  1. Future Readiness consists of:
  • Adaptive attitudes
  • Business agility
  • IT integration


IMD reports that Thailand’s digital competitiveness ranks 41 from 63 countries. The numbers show that Thailand should be concerned with training and education investment in the digital field, this ranks at 47. As for adaptive attitudes, Thailand stands at 51, while ranking 53 for IT integration.

On the other hand, Thailand is considered to be competitive when it comes to capital and businesses related to the digital economy. For example, Thailand ranks 21 in capital and 32 for business agility.



Moreover, Thailand is very competitive in terms of infrastructures relating to the digital economy. The country ranks 10 for the bank and financial services and ranks 6 for the highest number of mobile phone users.

Orapong points out that Singapore, a country with its digital competitiveness ranking as the world’s number 1 has education as their core strength. Their attitude towards adaptation looks further into globalization and government services such as e-Government and Cyber Security.



Deep Tech, the key that will help drive Thailand’s Digital Competitiveness.

As seen above, if we are unable to keep up, it is possible that we may unavoidably be faced with a deteriorating economy. Deep Tech development by Thais is a factor that may help Thailand keep up with the change.


Thailand Overall Performance by IMD


This is why U.REKA was initiated. It is a collaboration with the academic sector in Thailand that aims to create an ecosystem for startups who will mainly focus on developing Deep Tech products and services.

From the perspective of competition in the Digital Transformation era, not only can Deep Tech facilitate the development but also it can increase competitiveness in every aspect. For instance, the banking sector has begun incorporating Deep Tech in its process. This has created a sales platform for retail customers that is both more convenient and helps lessen costs. As a result, banks can aim to upgrade its services which in turn makes the competition beneficial for consumers.


Connecting knowledge to the ecosystem, Deep Tech will begin from the “education” level.

The best type of Deep Tech development not only has to be beneficial but also has to be labeled as a good startup business. It should own a useful product for consumers that helps developers exist in the business. Also, nurturing a wholesome ecosystem is crucial. This includes stemming from research to create business models, developing human resources that can perform the tasks as well as other business mechanisms. A very good example is Stanford University who has fulfilled the ecosystem with knowledge and made Silicon Valley what it is today.



Today, Thailand’s has knowledge dispersed in different universities. If we are able to benefit from the intelligence and create ideas for startup’s success, this can bring about change in a wider aspect. More knowledge can branch out and will increase research that will become a foundation for ideas. Finally, it can influence human resources development from direct access to the academic system.



“We must build a wholesome Deep Tech ecosystem from its origin, which is research, all the way to the end, which is a business that can really be successful in the real sector.” – Orapong Thien-Ngern, CEO of Digital Ventures


Deep Tech that Thailand can use to enhance its digital competitiveness consists of 6 sectors namely Artificial Intelligence, Blockchain, Cloud & Security, Big Data/Internet of Things (IoT), Augmented Reality & Virtual Reality and Quantum Computing

U.REKA is ready to support startups who are developing Deep Tech is these 6 sectors. This is done with assistance from engineering faculties in 7 universities along with Digital Ventures, Microsoft and Knowledge Exchange. U.REKA aims to nurture Deep Tech startups from the beginning to the end as well as provide a chance to receive funding of up to 10 million THB. The project is open to university students, researchers, and professors. Join now at from not until May 15.

Although change always has its effects, it can also be an opportunity for development if we learn how to tackle it as soon as we can. In our next blog, we will update more ideas from the panel of deans and professors from the Faculty of Engineering of 7 universities at U.REKA.