TO encourage the software industry in Thailand, the creation of a software market, financial support, and intellectual property protection are important issues that related government organisations should get involved in.
The National Electronics and Computer Technology Centre (Nectec), which initiated the Software Park project and is now the park operator, has cooperated with related organisations including the Commerce Ministry, Industry Ministry and the Department of Export Promotion (DEP) to help build software opportunities for local software developers, attempting to make software products for sale internationally.
Rom Hiranpruk, the director of the Software Park project, said even though the creation of a software market is not a direct responsibility of Nectec, it became involved in helping local software developers, through the Software Park project, to have the opportunity to sell their products in foreign markets.
Cooperation, for example, is the encouragement of local software developers to demonstrate their software products at Comdex, the biggest IT exhibition held in the United States. This will help local software developers to open their market internationally.
At the software park itself, there will be an information centre to help local software developers get the latest information on the software industry, technology trends, as well as marketing information. The centre will also act as a bridge between software developers and their customers.
Not only is the creation of a software market important, financial support to keep local software businesses running is also a significant factor. Rom said Nectec is trying to help financial institutions understand the need to provide soft loans for software entrepreneurs.
He said that since software is intellectual property, it does not have physical assets to use as collateral for financial institutions which may give loans, so it’s difficult for software developers to get funds to continue their work.
“The lack of funding is major problem for the local software industry. In other countries where software industries are flourishing, there are venture capitalists who take the risk of software investment and this helps keep software businesses in those countries running,” Rom said.
In Thailand, he added, there is no venture capital for software investment, so Nectec is trying to attract foreign venture capital to invest in software businesses here. At this stage there are Taiwanese venture capital groups who are interested in local software investment.
Nectec has also convinced several local financial institutions, such as Thai Farmers Bank, Siam Commercial Bank, Bangkok Bank, Bank of Ayudhaya and IFCT, to provide soft loans for software developers. All have agreed and accepted the concept.
Nectec also plans to cooperate with the police and the Intellectual Property Department for software copyright protection. The director said the software industry will grow if there is less use of pirated software.
“IP protection will help the local software industry as well as expand the market for local products,” he said.
The government, he added, will have to be a model in the use of legal software products. They have to consider determining budgets for software purchases instead of getting it free.
“The use of pirated software makes the country lose the opportunity to create its own software industry while the government also loses tax income from software vendors,” Rom said.