Surapong seeks ideas in Germany for commercialising R&D

The Nation, Berlin June 7, 2013  1:00 am

Germany’s approach to the commercialisation of research and development efforts would be applied to Thailand’s development, Foreign Minister Surapong Towichukchaikul said yesterday.

He was leading a delegation including representatives of many research agencies visiting Germany from Wednesday to today to explore cooperation in various fields. They toured the WISTA Science and Technology Park in Berlin-Adlershof on Wednesday to study Germany’s prowess in converting scientific innovation into commercial products.

Helge Neumann, executive manager of WISTA Management, which runs the science park, said the key to its success was having science and business work hand-in-hand through very direct connections to develop marketable products.
Scientists could become successful entrepreneurs, such as Dr Hans Schick and Dr Chistine Wedler, who jointly set up a company in 2000 to conduct research for the pharmaceutical industry.

Besides many technology-oriented companies, there are also non-university research institutes and scientific institutes in Berlin-Adlershof. The park looks like a university campus, with a good environment.

Thailand might not be able to have this kind of science park for high technology but the government has the idea of developing a similar park for food and agriculture, said Surapong, who was assigned by Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra to oversee research and development activities in Thailand.

Surapong met with Philipp Rosler, Germany’s vice chancellor and economic minister, to discuss economic cooperation, notably on water-management and other mega-projects. Thailand invited Germany to invest in these areas.

Rosler complained that German firms, mostly small and medium-sized enterprises, cannot participate in the water-management projects since they are too big, Surapong said. He told Rosler that German companies have a lot of chances to invest in Thailand’s development projects, not only mega-projects but also many smaller projects that are in the government’s pipeline.

Preparations for the next meeting of the Joint Economic Committee to be held in Germany this year were also discussed.
Surapong also talked with German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle about bilateral and regional issues.

Westerwelle expressed his interest in relations between Thailand and Cambodia over the border dispute. Surapong reassured him that relations are now normal since both countries could separate the dispute over the Preah Vihear Temple from the overall picture. The International Court of Justice’s ruling on the temple dispute would not jeopardise the whole relationship, he said.

On the Myanmar issue, Surapong told Westerwelle that the reform process there would not be reversed since the country is now getting benefits and full support from the international community.

The opening up of Myanmar would benefit not only that country but also its neighbours in Asean, notably Thailand. “I told Westerwelle that the ongoing reform would not make Myanmar a competitor to Thailand, but if Myanmar succeeds in the reforms, Thailand would also benefit from that success,” he said.

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