A graphic outlining priorities for innovation policymakers in Thailand: advocacy for innovation, inclusive innovation, smarter data management, training for innovation policymakers

Better advocacy for why and how innovation is needed

While there is growing awareness that it is critical for Thailand to make long-term investments to create the right conditions for innovation, the general perception of innovation in the public sector is still vague.

'The public sector is familiar with investment in hard infrastructure development, but it is challenging for them to envision the intangible outcomes from an innovation perspective.'

An inclusive movement to drive innovation looking at the whole system

There is no proper ecosystem to facilitate the process of innovation in Thailand; conditions must be created to foster innovation in the long run. The Thai innovation system is one that is still quite fragmented, with many public sector institutions still showing a top-down, siloed mentality. There is a real need for government officials in Thailand to shift from being purely regulators to acting more like facilitators, encouraging the design of more demand-driven innovation policies, and engaging better (and more frequently) with policy beneficiaries from all spheres, public and private, working closely with them within the mandates of what constitutes public value. Engagement is a crucial driver of innovation and alignment of actors is key to technology development.

'Policymakers must know how to match supply and demand at the right time. It is of significance to not only know why it should be this policy, but also why it should be this policy now.'

Similarly, it will be critical for Thailand to ensure that small-scale farming is also represented in the national innovation system, as innovation has traditionally tended to be developed and concentrated in urban areas. The notion of ‘rural innovation’ is yet to fully integrate the National Economic and Social Development Plan, though there have been considerable recent efforts through the Thailand 4.0 campaign.

'The innovation system has been fragmentally developed. Most research has, for instance, been conducted with the aim of academic publication, and they have hardly made a contribution to innovation.'

Smarter data management to design more inclusive innovation policies

Data management is crucial to innovation. The public sector in Thailand needs to manage data in more comprehensive ways, ultimately allowing them to develop better policies and manage knowledge and resources more effectively. Smarter policymaking can help keep track of policy results, and how inclusive their results are, particularly as there is a real need in Thailand for policies to not only benefit large multinational companies, state-owned enterprises or family-owned conglomerates, but also small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and smaller-scale agriculture.

Training the innovation policymaker to be fit for the future

There is no such thing as a ready-made toolbox for innovation policymaking, but there are ways in which policymakers can develop the skills and capabilities needed to tackle the big challenges of the 21st century. There is a need for Thai innovation policymakers to be better trained to understand the key challenges, use the appropriate tools and collect appropriate evidence.

Key areas for innovation policymaker training in Thailand could include: building effective collaboration between the public and private sectors; aligning priorities across government agencies to avoid working in silos; allowing room for experimentation, risk taking and failure; learning from other contexts, and more generally leveraging new methods for better policy formulation and implementation (e.g. stakeholder engagement, monitoring and evaluation, foresight, etc.).

Authors

Florence Engasser

Florence Engasser

Florence Engasser

Senior Foresight Analyst

Florence is a Senior Foresight Analyst within Nesta’s Discovery Hub, which aims to create a link between Nesta’s current portfolio and our pipeline of future work.

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Benjamin Reid

Benjamin Reid

Benjamin Reid

Head of International Innovation - Development Programmes

Benjamin is head of the International Innovation team within Nesta's Policy and Research division, examining new global trends and practices in innovation, with an emphasis on emerging…

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Silvia Pau

Silvia Pau

Silvia Pau

Assistant Programme Manager, A Fairer Start mission

Silvia is an Assistant Programme Manager.

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Paulina Gonzalez-Ortega

Paulina Gonzalez-Ortega

Paulina Gonzalez-Ortega

Design Lead, International Innovation

Paulina was the Design Lead for the Global Innovation Policy Accelerator, a 14-country collaborative development programme for senior innovation policymakers.

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Nathan Kably

Nathan Kably

Nathan Kably

Senior Strategy Analyst

Nathan worked on the design and delivery of Nesta's strategy

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Anna Schlimm

Anna Schlimm

Anna Schlimm

Learning Experience Designer, Global Innovation Policy Accelerator

Anna was a Learning Experience Designer for the Global Innovation Policy Accelerator.

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