Thailand adopts policy design lab concept from Finland

Future Innovative Thailand Institute (FIT) has been established earlier this year under Khuang Aphaiwong Foundation with the aim to study problems and challenges that Thailand faces and encourage participation from all sectors to design strategies for the country’s development for a sustainable economy and equality in the society.

Led by Dr. Surin Pitsuwan, Asean secretary-general and the chairman of FIT, “Policy Design Lab” workshop was held on 18-22 March 2013. The launch of the Policy Design Lab took place at Sukosol Hotels on Si Ayuthaya Road on 18 March in presence of Democrat leader Abhisit Vejjajiva, Khun Apirak Kosayodhin and academics from various sectors including Mr. Marco Steinberg from Finnish Innovation Fund, an independent public foundation working to promote the economic prosperity and future success for Finland.

At the opening event, Dr. Surin stressed that all sectors are parts of Thailand’s development for positive changes that the project aims for in 2020. The director of Strategic Design at Finnish Innovation Fund, Marco Steinberg, then talked about Finland’s social problem solving process through “Helsinki Design Lab” and gave examples using case studies in Finland.

Policy Design Lab model has been applied by many countries in Europe such as Finland (Helsinki Design Lab), Denmark (Mindlab) and England (SIX: Social Innovation Exchange, Nesta).

The policy design lab was set as a platform for participants from all sectors to share ideas and discuss the country’s challenges in order to develop a national framework and strategies for FIT’s Thailand Blueprint 2020 project.  According to The Nation, Abhisit said in February that the party will base its future policies on this blueprint.

During the five-day seminar, the policy design lab workshop focused on three major subjects including Learning and Education, Sustainable Economy and Responsive Governance. Participants were from both Thailand and abroad.

Participants at Thailand Blueprint 2020 project public seminar
Participants at Thailand Blueprint 2020 project public seminar on 22 March 2013

On 22 March, the public seminar on Thailand Blueprint 2020 was held at Bangkok Arts and Culture Center. The two panels of discussions at the event included “ASEAN 2020: Our good common future” and “Social Innovation and Public Policy: the missing link?”.

Guest speakers at the first panel of discussion: “ASEAN 2020: Our good common future” included Dr. Surin Pitsuwan; Simon Tay from Singapore, Chairman of the Singapore Institute of International Affairs; Dr. Mely Cabellero Anthony from the Philippines, Former Director of External Relations, ASEAN Secretariat;  Bryan Boyer, USA, Finnish Innovation Fund; Dr. Tang Siew Mun, Malaysia, Director- Institute of Strategic and International Studies; Dr. Termsak Chalermpalanupap, Thailand, Former Director of Political and Security Cooperation, ASEAN Secretariat. The moderator of the two discussions was Dr. Somkiat Ornvimol.

During the first panel of discussion, guest speakers discussed their countries’ challenges, strengths, visions for 2020 with ASEAN opening up, and views on Thailand’s capacity and predicament.

Mr. Bryan Boyer from Finnish Innovation Fund presented how the concept works in Finland with illustrations from case studies.

Democrat leader Abhisit Vejjajiva and Mr. Marco Steinberg, Director of Strategic Design at Finnish Innovation Fund, were guest speakers at the second panel discussion “Social Innovation and Public Policy: the missing link?”

Abhisit believes that the country’s main missing links include lack of trust, lack of connection between different parts of society, and deliberation. He aims to increase the country’s GDP.

The policy design lab workshop on 18-22 March was the first of many to come.  FIT encourages all sectors to get involved with design thinking for social innovation and systemic change in society.

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