The much anticipated visit of a Finnish minister delegation to Thailand on 20-22 August saw no less than 18 companies, small and large, from Finland in attendance. The business delegation represented ‘Smart Energy’ and various other productions and solutions within the digital economy.
Team Finland, the organiser, hosted an evening reception on 21 August, where Finland’s Ambassador to Thailand H.E. Satu Suikkari-Kleven as well as the Finnish Minister for Economic Affairs H.E. Mika Lintilä held welcome speeches.
“Thailand is one of the Asian countries that Finnish people know the best. Tourism has brought us here for years and years but increasingly also because of business connections. There is a dynamic and versatile Finnish business community here in Thailand. Together with local partners Finnish companies have boosted the economic cooperation for years. I am happy to be accompanied here this week by a great group of Finnish companies, of different size and of great excellence,” began Mika Lintilä who is the responsible minister for investments and export.
“For us Thailand is one of the connecting countries in the Southeast Asian region, an easy country to enter and to feel welcome. I see enormous growth potential in our relationship. New partnerships should be created for instance within the digital world and sustainable energy.”
“Digital transformation is one of the most significant changes in many years, and affects the whole society but also provides many opportunities. But the transformation also needs energy at times of scarcity of resources,” the minister continued.
“Data is the raw material of today. In fact we expect to benefit from the wide range of new digital services, products as well as from data management. We have followed with great interest the Thailand 4.0 plan to make this country a leader in digital economy in the Asean region. And I see this as a major opportunity for Finnish companies as well. In energy we must look for possibilities in making profit from waste and looking at the compliance life-cycle solutions in energy markets.”
The minister said that excellent steps have already been taken in partnership between Finnish and Thai companies.
“The economic situation in Finland is currently very positive with growth driven by improved domestic consumption and strong export numbers. A clear reason for the positive news lies behind the innovative attitude of the whole society. Finland is an export country and free trade is important for us to flourish in the economy. Free trade agreements are important tools for us in developing trade opportunities and creating economic growth. The resumption of FTA negotiation between the EU and Thailand can be pursued with a democratically elected civilian government. We look very much forward to this. We believe there is much potential in enhancing trade between EU and Thailand.”
At the reception the Finland ambassador also introduced all participating Finnish companies on stage, after which business networking followed.
The following day, on 22 August, the Thai-Finnish Digital Day was arranged in collaboration with Digital Economy Promotion Agency (DEPA) and Smart City Alliance.
H.E. Dr Pichet Durongkaveroj, Minister of Digital Economy and Society presented the Thailand 4.0 initiative and on-going smart city projects.
Dr Pichet mentioned the government’s new payment gateway PromtPay and that a digital ID card is under development in Thailand
On the Digital Agenda 2018 is furthermore ‘Digital manpower’ under which 1 million citizens will get digital literacy training. This also focuses in digital professionals.
“It’s a very important step where the Thai government work closely with companies, trying to ensure that what we train, and educate people in will be very useful for the future.”
Furthermore, under Digital Tech Development a Digital Park is being established on 300 acres in Sri Racha, to include an IoT Institute and Consortium within the EEC (Eastern Economic Corridor).
“To develop this park some areas should be invested by the government sector, such as IoT, but we invite the private sector to join us to develop the digital park, which is different from a science park or industrial estate. In this park we will focus on collaboration for innovation; for example we can prepare the digital park as the sandbox for digital technology.”
“We think that digital is very important. But we are aware that digital technique is also very important, which is why we should develop digital industry in Thailand. Digital training is one of the new steps of the Thai government where we will focus in the EEC area.”
“Smart city is another thing that is very important. In Thailand we think that eventually there should be a smart city in one form or the other in all 77 provinces. But in the first step, about 7 provinces is part of the pilot scheme to be smart,” said Dr Pichet.
Smart City projects are also established for Chiang Mai, Khon Kaen and Phuket. Smart Cities include Smart Transit, Smart Energy, Smart Tourism and Smart City.
Cyber security is another pillar on Thailand’s digital agenda consisting in a National Cyber Security Committee, a National Cyber Security Agency, six ‘Critical Information Infrastructures’ (Financial, Telecommunications, Transportations and Logistics, Energy and Public Utility, Public Health, and National and Government Security), as well as the ASEAN-Japan Cyber Security Capacity Building Center.
“Now we are in the process of drafting new cyber security bills. We have the National Cyber Security Commission where we will focus on digital information transfer. And Asean has nominated Thailand as the hub for ASEAN Cyber-Security.”
Then there is the Digital government pillar, including big data and the ease of doing business in the country.
“The difficulty is how we can change our mind-set, especially those of the officers. The first thing to understand is what the difference is between electronic and digital government. We have to convince them but now our government has set the agenda that every ministry should think about how to use the information society to do some analytics such as from big data.”
At the Thai-Finnish Digital Day Eija Tynkkynen from Business Finland also gave a brief introduction to Finland as a successful digital nation.
Ten companies then held short presentations of their products and services. Participating companies were: Airbus Defence and Space Oy (advanced communication and collaboration solutions), BC Platforms (genomic data management solutions for healthcare), CS Control Software Oy (control software for automation), Evolta Oy (electronic building permitting processes), Mediconsult (health information systems), Mirasys Oy/Mirasys Thailand (video management solutions), Nokia Solutions and Networks (technology for communication) and Satel Oy (independent radio networking technology).