Thailand announces 20 bln baht fund to boost start-up ecosystem

The economy has been in doldrums since the army took power in 2014, with weak exports and sluggish domestic demand.

Thailand's government said on Monday it is launching a 20-billion-baht ($570 million) venture fund for Thai startups in a bid to move away from traditional development strategies and prop up a sagging economy.

Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Minister Uttama Savanayana said the fund is intended to finance as many as 2,500 start-up firms and help them accelerate innovation and expand into other Asean countries, the Bangkok Post reported.

"We aim to increase the number of start-ups in Thailand to 10,000 by 2018," the minister said. He added that 2016 will be the golden year for start-ups in the country.

Science and Technology Minister Pichet Durongkaveroj said the government will start zones across the country to promote new economic activities and sustain economic growth.

Meanwhile, Software Park Thailand, which comes under the National Science and Technology Development Agency, has said it will provide financial support to 50 local tech start-ups, with 800,000 baht each, the newspaper reported.

Small and medium-size businesses (SMEs), represent around 40 percent of Thailand's economy.

The economy has been in doldrums since army took power in May 2014, with continued weakness in exports compounded by sluggish domestic demand.

Asian Development Bank (ADB) said in March weak growth prospects in China and slow recovery in major industrial economies signalled a half a percentage point reduction in Thailand's economic growth this year.

ADB said its projection for Thailand's growth stood at 3 percent 2016, lower than 3.5 percent whcih was projected as earlier.