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SPACE-F creates new startups To push Thailand’s food industry and attract global investors

23 มีนาคม 2567 1,496

SPACE-F creates new startups To push Thailand’s food industry and attract global investors


The Ministry of Higher Education, Science, Research and Innovation (MHESI) by the National Innovation Agency (Public Organization) (NIA) announced it has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to collaborate with Thai Union Group Public Company Limited, Mahidol University, and a new partner Nestlé (Thai) Ltd., the leading food and beverage company through the SPACE-F program, Thailand’s first global food tech startup incubator and accelerator. The MoU signing ceremony recently took place with the theme “Collaboration for the Future of Food,” which portrays the aspiration of all collaborating members to drive the future of Thai food industry. It is a collective effort to develop an ecosystem to enhance the growth and competitiveness of food tech startups and support the development of food innovations that meet evolving consumers’ needs. Ms. Supamas Isarabhakdi, the Minister of Higher Education, Science, Research, and Innovation, presided over the signing ceremony.

Ms. Supamas Isarabhakdi, Minister of Higher Education, Science, Research and Innovation (MHESI), said “One of MHESI flagship goals is to increase innovation capabilities, focusing on leveraging knowledge, science, research, and innovation to enhance our nation's competitiveness through initiatives such as the BCG Economic Model. We aim to transform Thailand to a value-based economy, and a key aspect of this transformation lies in elevating our innovation capabilities. The food industry is indeed the backbone of Thai economy, since Thailand, ranked as the world's 12th largest food exporter, is poised to surpass 1.5 trillion baht in export value by the year 2023. There are over 136,000 businesses and creating more than 973,000 jobs. The SPACE-F program stands as a cornerstone initiative of our ministry, focusing on fostering and developing the potential of FoodTech startups to grow and innovate, thus reshaping the food industry to be more robust and sustainable both nationally and globally, and to drive Thailand to become "Innovation Nation" and move up top 30th Global Innovation Index by 2030.”

Dr. Krithpaka Boonfueng, Executive Director of National Innovation Agency (Public Organization) said, “NIA mission is to enhance the country's innovation system and the food industry is one of the significant target industries that NIA aims to drive. According to the Global Startup Ecosystem Index by startupblink, the Thai startup ecosystem has made substantial strides, currently ranking 52nd globally, 11th in Asia-Pacific, and 4th in ASEAN. Bangkok has witnessed remarkable progress, ascending 25 places to reach the 74th spot globally and securing the 3rd position in ASEAN as one of the top cities for the startup ecosystem.”

“The SPACE-F program has been encouraging innovation-driven entrepreneurship, with a focus on pioneering trends of the future such as health and wellness, alternative proteins, smart manufacturing, sustainable packaging solutions, and smart food services. The SPACE-F program is an excellent platform to help startups transform their creative ideas into successful products or business globally. Significantly this year, Nestlé, the leading food, and beverage company from private sector, joins the SPACE-F program to bring its expertise to the program and offer opportunities for both global and local startups to collectively shape the future of the food innovation.”

Mr. Victor Seah, Chairman and CEO of Nestlé Indochina, said, “At Nestlé, our Purpose is to unlock the power of food to enhance quality of life for everyone, today and for generations to come. We are delighted to join the SPACE-F program to drive innovations that will help us achieve our company’s purpose. We also believe that collaborating with diverse sectors on the SPACE-F program is key to driving Thailand’s food industry to deliver the future of food that is both “Good for You” and “Good for the Planet,” aligned with the company’s strategic focus. We will work together with our program partners and entrepreneurs to innovate more products that are both tastier and healthier, and address sustainability challenges faced by the food industry and the nation.”

With a network of 25 research and development centers globally and 10 product development centers, Nestlé makes a substantial investment of around 1.7 billion Swiss francs (or 70,000 million Thai Baht) annually to support continuous research and development in products that meet the needs of people at all life stages. Space-F program startups will complement Nestlé’s existing strengths and help us accelerate our contribution to consumers and the food industry. 

Mr. Thiraphong Chansiri, President and CEO of Thai Union Group PCL., said "In this era of rapid transformation, the future of food is being rewritten by the innovative minds and relentless pursuits of entrepreneurs worldwide. At Thai Union, we understand that the journey of innovation is fraught with challenges, yet it's these very challenges that propel the industry forward. Through initiatives like SPACE-F, we aim to harness the potential of food technology, addressing the pressing needs of our time while paving the way for sustainable growth. Our mission is clear – to build a robust ecosystem where innovation thrives, technology leads, and sustainability is a priority. The collaboration with Nestlé is not just a partnership; it's a testament to our shared vision of nurturing food entrepreneurs and revolutionizing the food industry through innovation and technology. Together, we are committed to setting new standards, driving meaningful change, and creating a future where the food industry is as resilient as it is revolutionary."

Prof. Banchong Mahaisavariya, M.D., President of Mahidol University, said, “Mahidol University, with our corporate strategies of global research and innovation, together with academic and entrepreneurial education, has produced significant high-quality research, innovations and global talents graduates with entrepreneurship. As we are one of the nation’s leading research universities, it is promising for research facilities and equipment, together with experts in varieties of areas including science, food science, nutrition, engineering and related technologies, that would be readily available to support and facilitate our future generation of food entrepreneurs/startups in the SPACE-F program towards developing Thailand to become an Asian hub for future food industry.”

SPACE-F program has been running since 2019. The program has already supported a portfolio of 60 local and global startups that have successfully raised over USD 63 million.  The SPACE-F Batch 5 application is open from February 10 to March 31, 2024 into its Food Tech Startup Incubator & Accelerator programs to encourage innovation, drive the growth of food technology, and cultivate business models that offer the potential for exponential growth. This effort will position Thailand as a pivotal food technology hub for the region and beyond.